We’re all familiar with the Ohio BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) but, what is the secret police group called the OIU?
The OIU stands for OHIO INVESTIGATIVE UNIT.
The BCI works under the Attorney General’s Office. The OIU is a branch of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. OIU agents are fully-sworn, plainclothes peace officers responsible for enforcing Ohio’s alcohol, tobacco, and food stamp fraud laws.
According to their self-description: Agents investigate suspected illegal activity in liquor permit premises (bars, restaurants, carry-outs, etc.).
Investigations may be related to locations operating without a permit or to drug, gambling, counterfeiting, or property crimes. Agents also investigate the illegal manufacture of alcohol, as well as businesses and individuals involved in food stamp fraud.
Related activities may include compliance checks to ensure liquor permit premises are not selling alcohol or tobacco products to underage individuals or trace-back investigations to determine whether alcohol was illegally sold or provided to underage or already intoxicated persons involved in an alcohol-related crash or incident.
Because of their secretive operations, the offender never really knows who they are until it’s far too late. By the time the OIU reveals their identity, it’s when they are sharing their findings in court.
These days, the OIU is getting more publicity because they are additionally tasked with investigating claims of businesses breaking the ever-changing laws regarding social distancing, bar regulations, liquor delivery, and blatant violations of Ohio Department of Health (ODH) orders.
On July 18th, one of their busts included these words in the narrative of the investigation: “No social distancing measures of any type were in place and patrons, dancers, and other staff were engaging in repeated, direct contact.”
The same day in another part of Ohio, they were at a taco place. That establishment received a citation for “improper conduct – disorderly activity“. This was a result of an OIU agent observing “approximately 10 employees not wearing masks”.
Here are some additional quotes from reports, we’ve received just this weekend from all over Ohio.
“Numerous people were moving about freely consuming alcohol, hugging each other, and crowded shoulder to shoulder in some places”- July 17th
“Patrons were engaged in several activities, including arcade games and bocce ball, without practicing social distancing”- July 17th
“These violations include patrons standing and dancing, while many others congregated in a small area” – July 19th (today).
These “rules of engagement” seem to change and it’s difficult for many to understand or instantly comply. That’s why it is important to maintain a good relationship with your local health department. SCDN spoke with the Portsmouth City Health Department because we were seeing visits logged but no inspections being reported. Actually, we thought there may be a glitch in the system. We were told, very professionally and in a timely fashion, that those logged visits were for educational purposes and not inspections.
So, the laws have teeth. Believe it or not. Agree or not. Just like the speed limit, if the sign says 55 and you go 70, you can certainly do that but don’t be surprised when it ends up costing you some fines (or worse).
The OIU is divided into six districts. For citizens, it is encouraged that complaints be issued to the Central District in Columbus. From there, they will assign the complaint to the correct field office. You can call (614) 644-2415 or email ADOIUCent@dps.ohio.gov