Hilliard Northwest News

City plans to bring open-carry laws in line with state


Hilliard is poised to amend city codes that prohibit openly carrying firearms in public parks.

An amendment was introduced March 10 by the public safety and legal affairs committee and was referred with a positive recommendation to City Council.

It is scheduled to receive a first reading at 7 p.m. Monday, March 24, at the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way.

Law Director Tracy Bradford, citing Ohio Supreme Court case law, suggested City Council adopt the ordinance to align with current state law.

"Ohio Revised Code takes precedence here," said Bradford, adding the Ohio Supreme Court had made a ruling in 2008 that only federal or state regulations can limit the rights of Ohio residents to carry firearms.

"Home-rule" powers of municipalities do not apply in this instance, Bradford said.

The ordinance prohibiting firearms in Hilliard parks was adopted in 1980, Bradford said.

Deputy Chief Bobby Fisher said he is not aware of any instance where a resident challenged police in Hilliard, but cited instances in other Ohio cities where residents are carrying guns in parks and other places where it is most likely to cause people to call police.

Fisher said police will respond to determine if anyone is carrying a gun in a threatening manner but Hilliard officers are aware that individuals can openly carry guns in public places.

"I think it is something we'll see (in Hilliard) at some point, so (the prohibition) needs to be off the books," Fisher said.

In other business at the March 10 committee meeting, council members forwarded legislation authorizing the purchase of six police cruisers and digital police radios.

Both ordinances are expected to have a March 24 first reading by City Council.

The first ordinance approves the expenditure of an amount not to exceed $165,000 for the purchase of six cruisers from Lebanon Ford. The cost does not include equipping the vehicles.

Each year the city purchases about six vehicles, completing a full replacement of the division's fleet every four years.

The second ordinance approves an expenditure of an amount not to exceed $393,000 for the purchase of digital radios and equipment necessary to maintain membership in the Central Ohio Interoperable Radio System, or COIRS.

After contracting last year with the Dublin Division of Police to provide police and fire dispatching, Hilliard joined COIRS, partnering with the Dublin and Worthington police departments and Delaware County in the operation and maintenance of a regional radio system.

Hilliard and Norwich Township shared the cost of a $1.8 million digital tower to be built in Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park. The next step is to upgrade the department's analog in-car and hand-held radios to digital radios, expected to be completed by the end of the year.