Residents told to be vigilant about reporting crime
In response to complaints about vandalism, thefts and noise, Canal Winchester City Council members are asking residents to be vigilant about calling the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office to report any problems.
According to Sgt. Jared Collins, the department will step up enforcement but needs community involvement in reporting issues immediately.
The city contracts with the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office to provide police services.
Residents have complained to city officials that minors are responsible for at least some of the incidents that happen during the night.
"The sheriff's office will make every attempt to suppress the normal increase in neighborhood vandalism and thefts that coincide with warmer weather," Collins said. "The curfew for minors is 11:30 p.m. Parents need to be aware of that and make sure their children adhere to curfew ordinances."
No curfew citations have been issued over the winter months, he said, noting that curfew problems are usually seasonal. He said he does expect the number of violations to increase as the weather improves.
Mayor Michael Ebert reiterated the importance of community involvement but he also said the city is committed to curtailing these activities.
"Parents should be watching their kids and residents should be watching out for any mischievous activities," Ebert said. "If you're being mischievous, then this warning is for you: We aren't going to put up with it in Canal Winchester."
Collins also reminded council at its March 4 meeting that a new law now in effect makes it illegal for anyone age 18 or older to write, read or send text messages from behind the wheel.
The law is even more stringent for minors.
For ages 17 and younger, it is now illegal to use any hand-held electronic device for any reason while driving. That means no texting, no emailing, no calling, no talking, no surfing, no looking up directions on a GPS and no changing songs on an iPod.
A violation is considered a primary offense for minors, which means police officers can stop a teen just for using a mobile device behind the wheel. Punishment includes a $150 fine and a 60-day license suspension.
For adults 18 and older, an officer would need a primary violation, such as speeding, to cite the driver, according to Law Director Gene Hollins.
"This law will save lives and there's been banter among my staff as to who will be the first to write a ticket for it," Collins said.
Hollins said he hopes the law will help young drivers pay better attention to driving and thus increase safety.
Collins asked the community to help deputies be vigilant. He said anyone who observes suspicious activity or curfew violations in their neighborhood should call his office at 614-837-7478. In case of emergency, he said residents should call 911.
Robert Vitale of The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story.