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Government/Politics

Lawmaker Says 'Obstruction Of Justice' Bill Meant To Increase Police, Public Safety

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A bill to expand the definition of "obstruction of justice" is gaining momentum in the Ohio House. While a Republican sponsor says it's intended to keep everyone safe as police officers carry out their duties, opponents have a different take.

Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) says his bill, HB22, would allow police to charge a person with obstruction of justice if they fail to comply with a "lawful order" during certain circumstances, which includes when police are making an arrest. 

"They got to keep their head on a swivel as it is so giving them that space to, whether it's holding a crime scene or apprehending a suspect, it just creates more of a safety zone for everybody that's involved," says LaRe. 

He says HB22 creates clearer language in the Ohio Revised Code on what can be defined as "obstruction of justice" and the penalty that can be attached.

Watch: House committee holds hearings on HB22

While LaRe says the bill is addressing the broad duties of law enforcement, opponents believe this is partly directed at the demonstrations in Ohio cities protesting police violence and say it can infringe on First Amendment rights. 

Watch: Opponents testify against HB22 in House committee.

A previous version of the bill included language outlawing people from "taunting" officers as they apprehend someone. That language has been removed and additional language has been added to specifically state that people can still record video of officers.

The bill is currently in committee. 

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