ODPS | Ohio Investigative Unit

Welcome to the ODPS Ohio Investigative Unit

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ODPS Investigative Unit History

In 1933, individual states within in the United States ratified the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment which legalized prohibition. Also, in 1933, Ohio voters repealed a Prohibition amendment in the Ohio Constitution.

With the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol now legal, the state legislature attempted to create a regulating agency to oversee the production and sale of alcoholic beverages in Ohio. The State Liquor Control Act passed on March 30, 1933, creating the Ohio Liquor Control Board. The board established regulations that governed the manufacture, sale and distribution of all legal alcoholic beverages.

The state legislature modified the board when, on December 23, 1933, the General Code of Ohio - 6064 became effective, creating the Department of Liquor Control. The department was charged with issuing permits and the manufacture, distribution and sale of malt beverages and spirituous liquors.

The Ohio Historical Society states that the legislature modified the original Liquor Control Act to raise money for various governmental programs. During the 1930s, the Great Depression gripped Ohio and the rest of the United States. The Liquor Control Act provided the Ohio legislature with access to more fund that allowed the state government to assist Ohioans suffering in this economic downturn.

As well as creating the laws for sales and permits, General Code of Ohio 6064 also created the Enforcement Division. Under the General Code, the enforcement division was charged with conducting investigations at licensed and unlicensed liquor sales locations throughout Ohio. The agents were also tasked with stopping illegal sales, distribution and manufacturing of beer and alcohol for public consumption.

On July 12, 1995, Governor George Voinovich signed Senate Bill 162 into law. The law transferred the Enforcement Division of the Ohio Department of Liquor Control to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The enforcement division officially moved to Public Safety on October 29, 1995. With the split from Department of Liquor Control, the agents maintained the enforcement of Title 43 – The Ohio Liquor Laws.

Public Safety also received the Food Stamp Fraud Enforcement Unit in 1995. The unit, which originally began under the Ohio Department of Agriculture, was transferred from the Ohio Department of Human Services. In 1999, the Enforcement Division and the Food Stamp Fraud Unit merged and the Public Safety division was renamed the Ohio Investigative Unit. In 2001, the Investigative Unit began enforcing the tobacco laws.

Through the years, the agents have investigated cases involving bootlegging, moonshine, gambling, illegal sales, underage drinking, sales to intoxicated persons, and drugs and weapons.

A part of the Investigative Unit’s history that should be remembered is the sacrifice made by Agent James Burns. On November 7, 1964, Agent Burns was shot to death in the line of duty as he attempted to arrest a suspect in an illegal liquor sales establishment in Xenia. Agent Burns’s name was officially dedicated to be placed on the wall at the National Peace Officer’s Memorial in 1991.

While the agency is no longer under the Department of Liquor Control, name changes have occurred and additional scope of authority has been added, the premise remains the same – protecting Ohioans and cracking down on those who abuse the system.

On Tuesday, December 23, 2008, Investigative Unit kicked-off a year-long recognition of the 75th Anniversary, celebrating 75 years of dedication, education and protection.

Click here for a list of enforcement offices.