EATON — On Wednesday, Dec. 4, Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson found himself receiving the brunt of online criticism based on information regarding the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association’s support of SB 221.
Senate Bill 221 is widely supported by gun violence prevention groups, and contains proposals from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Simpson’s statement, in its entirety, reads: “Yesterday, I testified at an Ohio Senate committee hearing related to SB 221, on behalf of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. Since the hearing, information has been misconstrued regarding the facts as to why our association has supported the bill.
“First, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am an avid supporter of the Second Amendment. I always have been and always will be. Period.
“The Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association holds this position as well. I know of NO Sheriff in Ohio that does not share this position.
“Our support for this bill centered around several components that provide additional tools to police officers on the street. One tool is the addition of the ability for officers to “pink-slip” an individual that may be a serious chronic alcoholic or seriously drug dependent, to a hospital for evaluation by a healthcare professional. This is designed and limited in scope for our most seriously ill people.
“It then becomes the responsibility of the health care professional to determine if the person is in fact a serious, chronic alcoholic or drug dependent and is in need of court-ordered treatment. If the healthcare professional decides that the individual is, the process moves to a probate court. If they decide that the person is not, the person is released.
“If the health care professional determines that the individual is in fact a serious, chronic alcoholic or drug dependent person, the process then moves to a probate court, where the individual will have due process, before a court, for any final determination. If and only if the court determines that this individual is in possession of a firearm or dangerous ordinance and is a risk of physical harm to themselves or others, a protection order from the court may be issued to take possession and hold a firearm. The firearm would be held until further order from the court that the individual has successfully completed court-ordered treatment and the firearm may be returned. There are also provisions in the bill that the firearm could be turned over to a family member, with approval by the court.
“I, nor the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, would ever support any legislation that would deny anyone of due process under the law.
“Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the court to look at the facts and make a determination. This is not a law enforcement decision.
“Finally, provisions in the bill increase penalties for the most violent criminals in the state who continue to use firearms in the commission of a crime in Ohio.
“My intent is to share this information with you so that you have a better understanding of why we support the bill. This is a tool to keep firearms out of the hands of our most seriously mentally ill, our most serious chronic alcoholics, and our most serious drug dependent people who are a risk of physical harm to themselves or others, until they can receive treatment and are no longer a risk.
“This bill is only in the legislative process. Our association will continue to monitor it as it moves to ensure that it maintains its original intent.”