In a Memorandum titled "Open Carry Protocol" issued on February 18, 2010, Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller issued an opinion directed to all police departments in Greene County, explaining the legality of openly carrying firearms without a permit, and the refusal to provide identification when police officers demand. This Memo was issued as a result of my own recent interaction with several Beavercreek Police Officers which approached me, harassed me and attempted to intimidate me into idenfifying myself to them inspite of the ilegality of doing so.
The memo states:
"The Beavercreek Police Department recently requested guidance as to how to proceed when a police officer is confronted with an individual who is openly carrying a firearm. "
The Prosecutor advises police departments in Greene County of the following two important points:
1. It is not illegal to openly carry a firearm in the state of Ohio.
2. Officers may approach individuals openly carrying firearms but may not force the individuals to provide identification unless they are in violation of other laws.
It is critical to highlight point 3 of the Memo:
"If identification is provided, the officer may run information through the LEADS database to determine if there is any reason why the person cannot posess a firearm..."
The importance of this point is critical for citizens who are aware of the tendency of police officers to go on so-called "fishing trips" in order to discover what laws an individual may be in violation of, when no violation of law is immediately apparent.
So while it is commendable that the Greene County Prosecutor took the steps to give correct and sound advice to local police departments, the best actions one can take when confronted by police officers would be to refuse giving identification to the officer, thus refusing to participate or assist officers with fishing for incriminating information that could only harm rather than help a peaceful citizen.
I certainly hope that the Beavercreek Police Department and other departments in Greene County will respect the rights of citizens to carry firearms and be able to defend themselves appropriately.
You can read the entire memo and atached documentation here.