Police Tip of the Week

Not Illegal

Maybe it’s all in the definition. Or the many years of filing charges against people and knowing what the law actually states. In Ohio, there are laws written for Police Officers to use because a person has the right to know what they are being arrested for.

The United States Federal Code has no laws that a police officer can make a physical arrest. Only Federal Agents can enforce Federal Law. But then Federal Officers cannot use the Ohio Revised Code to make a physical arrest and incarcerate on. Many of the Federal and Ohio laws have similar laws that each respective officer can use. Such as murder, a police officer or sheriff’s deputy can arrest for murder. The Federal Agent also has a similar law but it deals with depriving another person of their right to live as given in the Constitution.

So a person charged with bank robbery may get charged by the Feds instead of local police since the person may get more prison time for the same crime. But the suspect may be charged in State Court by the local police if there is a gun specification attached because he may get an extra five years for the gun spec in the State Courts.

The other day I was having a discussion with several other people and one of them stated, “Did you know it is illegal to hang your clothes out on a clothesline?” I assured her that was not the case and she insisted it is in both Tipp City and Troy. Not wanting to beat my head against a brick wall, I let it go.

Now here is where the young lady was confused. Her use of the term “Illegal” was not appropriate. That is a term that denotes a person can receive jail time for a violation of the law. Since the 1980’s both Tipp and Troy have new neighborhoods covered by “Covenants.”

A covenant is defined by Ohio as a “Pledge or promise.” Any person living in that neighborhood must sign a contract promising or pledging to follow the rules of the neighborhood covenant. Often these covenants state rules like no outdoor clotheslines, no chain link fences, all out buildings must be made of the same material as the house and so on.

These covenants are not laws which a police officer can enforce. They are zoning violations enforceable by the City Zoning Inspector and have no jail time attached. A person can be fined by a homeowners association or the Zoning Inspector or ordered to remove the offending item.

In the Downtown Historic District in Tipp City a building must be repaired with the same building materials available at the time the house was constructed. No aluminum siding is allowed if the house was made of brick or wood. This is also not enforceable by the police.

In my neighborhood having been built in the 1970’s I can have a clothesline, an aluminum shed even though my house is brick and so on. The house directly behind me, built in the 1990’s must have a brick shed, no clothesline and no chain link fence due to neighborhood covenants. Again, no Tipp City Police Officer can arrest a homeowner for putting up an aluminum shed. They can turn it over to the Zoning Inspector. Who can eventually sue the property owner in civil court if compliance is not forthcoming. Just like in small claims court or even Common Pleas Civil Court, no jail time can attach.

So rest assured, if your electricity goes out and you put clothes out to dry, a police officer will not come along to arrest you and throw you in jail with the murderers, drug addicts and sex offenders.

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