law enforcement

Keeping peace: Courthouse security duties may be divided

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In order to keep the peace, it appears the duties of securing the Wood County Courthouse Complex may soon be divided. Though the plans have not been finalized, it looks like the current court constables will continue to provide security in the courtrooms, jury rooms, adult probation and domestic relations. However, Wood County Sheriff’s deputies will take over the atrium entry, the county office building, the rest of the courthouse and the grounds. “I have always suspected it was my duty to do that,” Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said about his office providing security. The issue came up last month when Chief Constable Tom Chidester retired after 20 years of his department securing the courthouse complex. The current security program was devised cooperatively by the commissioners, judges, sheriff and other county elected officials in the mid 1990s, when the county was trying to meet the 12 requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court. The court security officers perform several functions like scanning people and packages entering the court complex, standing guard during trials and providing general security functions. But upon Chidester’s departure, Wasylyshyn questioned whether his office should take over the court security role. The county commissioners and judges favored continued use of the court security officers. But Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said the issue is not whether or not the current court security system is serving the county well. “The question isn’t whether it’s working,” he said. “The question is whether we are following the law.” Wasylyshyn said Dobson was strong in his statement that it is the sheriff’s responsibility to keep…

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BGSU administrator suspended after erotic material, some with children, found on work computer

A Bowling Green State University professor and assistant dean has been immediately suspended after erotic material, some involving children, was found on his university computer. In a statement issued this afternoon, BGSU said it has suspended Alan Atalah “effective immediately” for misuse of state property and violation of university policy. According to the report from the Ohio Office of the  Inspector General, Atalah, of the College of Technology, came to its attention in March, 2015, after erotic stories, including some involving children, was discovered on a USB drive sent to the Ohio Department of Transportation. The flash drive contained information on culvert boring process research that Atalah was conducting. ODOT was not satisfied with the work and asked to have all material related to it returned. Personnel at the ODOT State Office of Planning and Research discovered the document when reviewing the material on the disk. ODOT referred the matter to the Inspector General’s office. The inspector general interviewed Atalah, who admitted to sometime looking at and copying erotic stories. He said he did not know how the file got onto the flash drive sent to ODOT and denied being the author of the document. Evidence of such material was found both on his laptop and on his work computer, in violation of BGSU’s internet use policy. In a follow up letter to the investigators, Atalah said  when he finally read the document he was “sick to his stomach” because of the nature of the material, and concluded by stating that he would do whatever he could “to assure you that I am not the kind of person who would…


Sheriff says jail booking area needs expansion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A few years ago, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn had to make a choice – add more beds to the county jail or add more space to the jail booking area. The jail expansion was priced at about $3 million and the booking area reconfiguration was priced at about $5 million. And since the county was already spending money by paying other counties to house Wood County’s overflow inmates, the 75-bed jail expansion project won out. When Wasylyshyn took over as sheriff, the county was spending about $500,000 a year on housing prisoners elsewhere. “Let’s stop the flow of Wood County money,” the sheriff remembered thinking. The decision paid off, with Wood County jail being able to house all of the local inmates plus bringing in an extra $130,000 last year for housing prisoners from other counties. But now, Wasylyshyn would like to revisit the booking area project. He had requested $5,000 from the county commissioners to have an architectural firm look at reconfiguring the booking area to add more holding cells and move the medical area closer to booking. The commissioners rejected that request, saying new Commissioner Ted Bowlus should be able to review the request. So on Thursday, the sheriff was back before the commissioners, asking again for the $5,000 to get new drawings for an expanded booking and medical area. The sheriff also hopes to get a cost estimate for the project, predicting it will be higher than the $5 million estimate a few years ago. The commissioners listened to Wasylyshyn’s proposal, but made no decision. The sheriff and…