law enforcement

BG snowplow driver cited for driving while intoxicated after knocking down mailbox and signs

A Bowling Green city snowplow driver has been cited for driving while intoxicated on the job after reportedly plowing down a mailbox and a couple signs on Saturday. Richard Downs, 48, Bowling Green, was cited for failure to maintain reasonable control, OVI/refusal and commercial driver’s license prohibitions while he was driving a snow plow. According to the city, Downs has resigned and is no longer employed by Bowling Green. Police were notified of the snowplow driver around 8:50 p.m., after a BGSU student called 911 to report that he was driving behind the truck as it knocked a mailbox to the ground on Klotz Road. The student continued following Downs in the snowplow onto East Napoleon Road then north onto South College Avenue. As the student was speaking with police dispatch, he reportedly saw the truck strike what he believed was another mailbox, and knock it to the ground. That turned out to be a speed limit sign. The student continued following the truck as it turned west onto East Wooster Street, where he reportedly saw the truck strike another traffic sign in front of BGSU’s Founders Hall. As the police division was trying to locate the snowplow, the dispatch called Downs and tried to get him to stop. According to the police report, Downs acted like he could not hear and hung up the phone. Soon after a police officer saw Downs in his truck on East Poe Road near the Wood County Airport. The truck did not have its plow down, and it pulled up to the city’s public works fenced area. An officer reported Downs exiting the truck and trying to put a code in the code box. Downs reportedly was acting as if the police weren’t speaking with him. The police report said Downs’ clothes were disheveled and the front zipper was down on his pants. He reportedly could not stand without swaying, and sometimes grabbed the code box to maintain his balance. The report said Downs smelled like alcohol, his speech was slurred and his eyes were glassy and bloodshot. Downs told police he was…

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Courthouse tour lays down the law for BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a bit of disorder in the courts  Monday as Bowling Green sixth graders got a close-up view of “Lady Justice.” They sat in on a court case, they offered ideas for new laws, and they met with the sheriff. And as a bonus, they learned a bit on how the county handles emergencies. The kids were awestruck by the court proceedings, and suitably impressed by the grand Wood County Courthouse. But kids being kids – they sometimes found a different focus than the intended. For example, as architect Heidi Reger pointed out the intricate stone work on the front of the 1896 courthouse, she asked the students to find the faces and animals carved into the stone. “They liked to tell a lot of stories in the stones,” she said. But during one group’s tour, Reger had some competition from above when one of the Peregrine falcons roosting in the courthouse clock tower snatched a bird for breakfast. It wasn’t long before a burst of feathers came floating down from the clock tower. Once inside the courthouse, the students got to listen to cases presented to the Sixth District Court of Appeals. The lesson there might have been that real court cases aren’t necessarily as exciting as those portrayed on television. But the students sat respectfully with little fidgeting as a case was argued about who was responsible for paying for roadwork and causeway maintenance for Johnson Island. Though the legal arguments were tedious, technical and long-winded, the students sat quietly. One court constable suggested that the sixth graders were likely intimidated by the panel of three robed judges, or by the ornate courtroom with its stained glass ceiling. After sitting through the governmental arm that rules on the law, the students heard from state legislators that make the laws. State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, talked about their routes to the statehouse. Gardner started out as a teacher, and Gavarone as an attorney and part-owner of Mr. Spots – which seemed to impress…


Route 6 project steering toward fewer fatal crashes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   U.S. 6 offers few challenges to drivers. It’s about has flat and straight as they come. But the route that stretches east-west just south of Bowling Green is the site of many fatal crashes. “It’s the number one deadly killer road in Wood County,” said Sandy Wiechman, coordinator of Wood County Safety Communities. In the past three years, there have been 18 fatalities on Route 6 in Wood, Henry and Sandusky counties. During that same period, there have been 252 injuries and 745 property damage incidents on the roadway. So the route is now the focus of “Safe 6 Initiative,” which will coordinate law enforcement agencies to target aggressive driving behaviors on Route 6. The top causes for crashes on the route have been identified as failure to yield, failure to keep assured clear distance, going left of center, unsafe speeds, and improper passing. Route 6 is the second largest federal highway in the U.S., second only to U.S. 20, Wiechman said during a gathering Tuesday of area law enforcement, Ohio Department of Transportation and AAA officials. On its route from California to Massachusetts, Route 6 travels across Ohio farmland in the west, up to Lake Erie, and then through wooded areas of Ohio’s east. “It cuts through the heartland of Ohio,” Wiechman said. The roadway is used by many area residents for their daily commutes. Traffic increases in the summer, as motorists use the route to get to Lake Erie or other vacation destinations. Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Angel Burgos, of the Bowling Green post, said Route 6 is known for being a dangerous road, high in fatalities. Burgos has had to make death notifications to families of the victims. “The driving behavior just needs to change,” he said. “Hopefully, we can make Route 6 a lot safer this summer.” The high number of crashes on the route is a “head-scratcher,” according to Staff Lt. Jerrod Savidge, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “It’s straight. It’s flat. It’s kind of a boring drive,” Savidge said. Many of the crashes are…


First responders honored for giving opiate addicts second, third and more chances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Those being honored Monday in the war against opiate abuse weren’t front and center. As usual, they were gathered far from the podium. “The first responders are all in the back of the room,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said. “Frankly that’s where they would prefer to be. They would much rather be out doing their jobs.” Those are the jobs they were being honored for on Monday – saving people from opiate overdoses. “They step into circumstances that we can’t imagine,” Dobson said. “They stand between us and danger in a very real sense on a daily basis.” EMS and law enforcement are being recognized across Ohio this week for saving people who overdose on opiates. In the Wood County Courthouse Atrium, the first responders were thanked by the second and third responders in the opiate crisis. To show appreciation in Wood County, that meant lunches will be delivered to fire and police stations throughout the week by Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “This is basically to say ‘thank you.’ We know it’s difficult work,” said Milan Karna, with the Wood County Prevention Coalition. A video was played, showing people who had been saved by first responders using narcan to revive them after overdoses. The faces thanked the first responders for not giving up on them – even if they had to respond to the same person for multiple overdoses. Tom Clemons, WCADAMHS director, used Dobson’s terminology of this war on opiates creating “refugees” in need of care. “It takes all of us working together on this,” Clemons said. On the front lines of this war are EMS, law enforcement, children’s services, and hospitals. “It is a widely recognized fact that a lot of first responders are putting themselves at risk,” with fentanyl being very dangerous to those treating overdose victims. But the use of narcan is giving opiate addicts another chance at life, Clemons said. “We’re seeing more and more people’s lives saved,” he said. “That’s where recovery…


Luck of the Irish won’t help drunk drivers

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s most popular times to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol, making this holiday also one of the most dangerous. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on the road our nation’s roads. During the 2012-2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 269 lives were lost due in drunk- driving crashes. In 2016, drunk driving killed more than 10,000 people in our country, and every single one of those deaths was preventable. To keep the roads safer, Wood County Safe Communities is reaching out with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to celebrate with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safer:  Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.  If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. If you’ve been out drinking and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of causing a crash or getting arrested for a DUI.  Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.  If someone you know is drinking, do not let him or her get behind the wheel.  If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, pull over to a safe location and call the police. Your actions could help save a life. Remember this St. Patrick’s Day: Plan Before You Party! Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.


BG police & fire train on new strategy for school shootings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last week while Bowling Green schools were closed for spring break, teams of police officers clad in protective vests and carrying AR-15 air soft training rifles trained in their hallways. By this week, all of the city’s police officers will have gone through rescue task force training. The point of the practice is to prepare police and EMS to work together to get medical help to victims of mass shootings as quickly as possible. “Time is so critical,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. On Friday afternoon, another team of police officers wrapped up their active shooter drill at Crim Elementary School. While they train annually for active shooters, this was the first time that police and firefighters/paramedics trained together. Police trained to go into the “hot zone,” to confront the shooters, and create an area in the nearby “warm zone” for EMS to take care of those injured. “Our entire role in all of this is to train the police officers to make a safe area,” so medical treatment doesn’t have to wait until the entire scene is cleared of risks, Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “Our paramedics are escorted in to treat in the building, and not wait for patients to be brought out to us,” Moorman said. “It’s getting our people into the building faster than normal.” The rescue task force responses to mass shootings do not require EMS personnel to carry firearms. “We are the firefighters’ protection for tactical emergency medical services,” explained Bowling Green Police Deputy Chief Justin White as he stood outside Crim Elementary. The rescue task force training included every police officer and firefighter. “All our officers are getting trained this week,” Hetrick said. “Every single one will go through it,” Moorman said. Each of the training sessions was held in Crim Elementary, though Hetrick said his officers are familiar with every school building in the city. The rescue task force training had been months in the making – long before the shooting in Parkland, Florida. But the timing proved perfect with…


Wood County jail to enter deal to take Toledo inmates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County jail is once again opening its doors to inmates from Toledo – but only misdemeanor offenders. The county commissioners will review the contract between the Wood County Justice Center and City of Toledo on Thursday morning. The agreement allows Toledo to “rent” 10 beds on an ongoing basis at the Wood County jail, on East Gypsy Lane Road in Bowling Green. The beds will be used for misdemeanor offenders sentenced under the Toledo municipal code. “They are the lowest level offenders,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Wednesday. That’s good for many reasons, the sheriff said. “We’re tight when it comes to secure housing, but we have plenty of beds in minimum security,” he said. The misdemeanor offenders also pose the least risk. “They aren’t all altar boys, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts,” Wasylyshyn said. But it’s nothing the jail staff isn’t accustomed to dealing with, he added. This is not the first time Wood County entered an agreement with Toledo to house inmates. In the summer of 2016, Toledo officials turned to Wood County for a solution to its inmate issues during an ongoing feud over charges to the city from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker. That arrangement lasted about six months, until Toledo and CCNO renegotiated prices for prisoner housing. This contract is similar to the last one between Toledo and Wood County, except Wasylyshyn said he made sure to clean up a transportation issue – with the new contract requiring Toledo to pay for the inmates’ taxi transports back to Toledo once they are released from jail. Toledo will pay the county jail for 10 inmate beds, regardless of whether or not all 10 are needed. If Toledo needs more than 10, the city will pay $65 per bed per day, plus the booking cost of $40. “We’re talking roughly $240,000 a year,” Wasylyshyn said. That money will be put toward the proposed expanded booking area and renovated medical area of the Wood County Justice Center, the sheriff said. “It’s great for Wood County….