MOUNT VERNON — During his periodic departmental update Thursday before the Knox County Commissioners, Sheriff David Shaffer answered questions related to enforcement of state Tobacco 21 legislation, which Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law with the state budget bill in July. Tobacco 21 will ban anyone under age 21 from purchasing tobacco products at stores, including highly popular electronic cigarettes and vaping devices such as Juul.
The age is being raised from 18 to 21 effective Oct. 17. Shaffer said his department knows how to handle the situation from past dealings in enforcing 21 as the age for buying alcoholic beverages. Shaffer said he once again anticipates using the compliance check process, whereby the sheriff’s office works with the state — now the Ohio Investigative Unit after working previously with state liquor control agents — to initiate randoms stings of sorts. In this case, the sheriff’s office and state work would work with young adults under the age of 21, typically students, and task them with attempts to purchase tobacco products.
If the store owner and employees are doing their jobs, they will ask young people for identification to determine proof of age, Shaffer noted. The Knox County Health Department is also involved, and those who “pass” the test, by correctly asking young people for identification, would typically receive a letter from the board of health, noting they had followed procedure and the law related to compliance checks. Those stores selling tobacco would likely be cited for illegal sales to minors, Shaffer added.
Shaffer also responded to a question about bulletproof glass and its practicality in the workplace, a topic that recently surfaced with the county Board of Elections and its director Kim Horn stating its employees would like a counter with bulletproof glass. Commissioner Thom Collier and County Administrator Jason Booth said that would be detrimental to the county’s mission, which is to engage with the public while providing services to citizens.
Shaffer said there is what he described as a type of “film” that can be applied to glass to make it resistant to gunfire. It also has other applications, such as allowing only one-way viewing. There are some offices in the county that by the nature of the members they serve would be more at risk of gun violence, he said. Those locations, such as the courthouse and jail, have the most stringent safety measures of any county sites that include metal detectors. Commissioner Bill Pursel said the lower level of the new Board of Elections site, which will be in the former Central School currently under renovation, will have film over glass to be highly resistant.
Shaffer also updated commissioners about the ongoing process of converting the sheriff’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), records management system, and jail booking system to Zuercher CAD software. The conversion is proceeding as planned, with the new Zuercher system scheduled to be in place by next spring, he said. It will include the county 911 system as part of the conversion.
Shaffer said the Zuercher CAD system has the capability of cutting down jail booking times by a half hour. Law enforcement officers from other areas, such as in Wayne County, said it has cut their booking times in half, he said. One way it does so is because calls come in straight from the field and go into the Zuercher software, he said.
Other entities that opted to become part of the conversion to Zuercher CAD include the city of Mount Vernon and village of Fredericktown, with Gambier and Centerburg already served by sheriff’s computers. The village of Danville opted not to become
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