Ohioans Could Be Arrested For Not Telling Police Their Name
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Ohioans Could Be Arrested For Not Telling Police Their Name

Associated Press | March 9, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohioans could be detained or arrested for not telling a police officer their name, address and age under an anti-terrorism bill up for a Senate committee vote Wednesday.

In addition, prosecutors and judges would be required to inform the federal government if a person convicted of a crime is also an illegal alien. And villages, cities and other municipalities would be banned from passing laws that hinder state or federal investigations into terrorism.

The bill improves the state's ability to help find terrorists and stop the flow of money to terrorist causes, said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeff Jacobson, a Dayton-area Republican.

"I do not feel in any way, shape or form it violates civil liberties or pushes the envelope too far," Jacobson said Tuesday.

The GOP-controlled Senate Judicary Committee was expected to approve the bill Wednesday.

The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties called the bill an unnecessary expansion of police powers.

Like the federal Patriot Act, the bill "effects a needless expansion of wide-ranging police powers which threatens the very rights and freedoms that we are struggling to protect," Jeffrey Gamso, ACLU legal director, told lawmakers last month.

The bill creates a new misdemeanor crime that allows police to arrest individuals for not identifying themselves if police believe they've committed a crime or witnessed one. The crime carries a punishment of up to one month in jail.

The constitutionality of such laws was upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said people who refuse to give their names to police can be arrested, even if they've done nothing wrong.

Under current law, police could arrest someone if they suspected the person had committed a crime, but they couldn't force the person to identify himself.

"This bill would for the first time say, 'You can, because the Supreme Court said you can,"' Jacobson said.

A former version of the bill required people to identify themselves to police if they were stopped at "terrorist sensitive sites." The version of the bill to be voted on Wednesday narrows that to "critical transportation" sites such as airports, train stations or ports.

Identification would be required only if police were stopping everyone at the site, along the same lines as a drunken driving checkpoint.

The new version of the bill also narrows the list of questions that applicants for certain state licenses must answer regarding any potential connections to terrorist groups.

The new version also eliminates a requirement that police officers inform federal authorities of the conviction of an illegal alien. But prosecutors and judges would still be required to report the conviction.

Police groups said they didn't track the outcome of every crime while legal advocates for immigrants said the police requirement could make immigrants think twice about reporting a crime.

The latest version of the bill contains several improvements, including a provision that makes clear that police officers can help federal agents respond to terrorist acts, said Sen. Marc Dann of Youngstown, the Senate Judicary Committee's top-ranking Democrat.

"I'm not sure that the case has been made that there's a compelling need for the bill," he said Tuesday. "But there are some individual aspects that will help law enforcement that may be enough to get me to vote for the bill."

Several communities have passed resolutions recently opposing the federal Patriot Act, according to the Ohio chapter of Council of American-Islamic Relations.

The law would permit resolutions as free speech, said Sen. Jim Jordan, judiciary committee chairman.

"But we're not going to say you can pass some law that directly contradicts what the Patriot Act is trying to accomplish," Jordan said.

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911:  The Road to Tyranny