Butler County prosecutor, sheriff trade sharp words over possible EMA takeover

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones is undeterred by Prosecutor Mike Gmoser’s recommendation against his takeover of the Emergency Management Agency, saying Gmoser gave him a “template” for a new law.

Gmoser advised the county commissioners Monday they should not allow the takeover.

“H.B. 62 and the sheriff’s proposal are fatally flawed in multiple ways,” Gmoser wrote in his legal opinion. “The bill itself is unconstitutional. The bill limited any potential contract with the sheriff to four years. It eliminated proportional representation, created conflicts of interest for the sheriff and left the burden of funding entirely upon the commissioners.”

Gmoser added: “What I’m saying here to the sheriff is I need to save him from himself. His desire to have this EMA is a stretch and a danger to him, as much as to you and as much as it is to the county.”

READ MORE: Dueling statements continue EMA battle between Butler County sheriff, current board

Contacted later by the Journal-News, Jones replied.

“Many times I’ve tried to look at the prosecutor and tried to save him from himself and still do and look out for his well-being,” Jones said. “I was hoping they would get an AG’s opinion, the opinion would have been totally different. But I can’t get that done through the prosecutor. I believe this was all prejudged before this. Again, I’ve been working on this for 10 years and I’m not done.”

Jones said Gmoser gave him a “template” he can take to the legislature to make a new law that will pass constitutional muster.

Jones has tried the takeover previously but Gmoser would not allow the transfer previously because it was not legal under Ohio law.

In the state’s most recent budget bill, Sen. Bill Coley inserted a clause that would allow the transfer, but essentially just for Butler County, not the entire state.

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