The Representative's Corner

State Representative Sean Patrick Brennan with Parma Police Officer Nick Schuld and retired K-9 Officer Cooney.

Recently, I proposed a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives that will reimburse communities, like Parma, for police canines that have been rendered nearly unusable due to the passage of Issue 2 in November.

The legislation is a result of Parma Law Director Timothy Dobeck, Police Chief Joseph Boback, and Parma Police Department Canine Director Sgt. Bobby Jackson contacting me about their concerns that three out of five of Parma’s canines are imprinted to detect the odor of marijuana. As a result, these dogs can no longer be used to determine probable cause or reasonable suspicion in narcotics cases, which is the lion’s share of their work. Dogs cannot bark once for marijuana, twice for heroin, or three times for fentanyl. Therefore, court cases could be jeopardized by narcotic evidence seized as a result of K-9 detection.

I found that there are 298 canines in police departments throughout Ohio that have been trained to detect marijuana.  Once imprinted with the detection of marijuana, dogs cannot be untrained. Therefore, in most cases, they need to be retired. In fact, the Ohio Highway Patrol has retired seven of their canines as a result of Issue 2 passing.

Luckily, many departments, like Parma, saw this coming and stopped training dogs to detect cannabis. However, many have one or more dogs imprinted with marijuana that they rely on and are now challenged to replace these dogs due to the passage of Issue 2. It is totally justifiable to use some of the tax dollars generated by the sale of recreational cannabis to buy new dogs for these departments.

It is estimated that the bill will set aside $6 million with funds being directed from the State of Ohio’s general revenue fund, which would later be reimbursed from tax revenues generated by the sale of legal cannabis. Local police departments would be authorized to apply for grants to replace their affected canines, as well as train and equip them, which is estimated to cost between $18,000 to $20,000 apiece.

I am concerned that the safety of the affected communities is at risk and that time is of the essence. My colleague, Republican Josh Williams of Sylvania, has agreed to join me as joint-sponsor of the bill. The fact that this is a one-time allocation of funds, along with the bipartisan nature of our bill will hopefully lead to swift passage. The bill will soon be assigned to a committee for deliberation. 

It is an honor to serve as your state representative.  Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2024!  

Sean Patrick Brennan

Sean Patrick Brennan

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 2:00 PM, 01.01.2024