law enforcement

New physics, digital forensics programs approved by BGSU Faculty Senate

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University Faculty Senate Tuesday approved two new academic programs. Both the Bachelor of Arts in physics and then new computer science specialization in digital forensics passed with minimal “no” votes. John Laird, who chairs the Department of Physics and Astronomy, explained that some students now enroll as bachelor of science physics majors, but lack the calculus needed to start their physics courses. That delays their completion of their degree requirements because they first need to get that grounding in calculus. The new bachelor of arts program would give those students another avenue. The existing  bachelor of science route, he said, is geared for students who are planning to go on to graduate school. But many physics majors are being hired with bachelor’s degrees, Laird said. This new major would serve their needs. Later he explained that physics majors are in demand in a range of fields. They tend to be good problem solvers and have strong backgrounds in math and use of technology. Steven Green, an assistant professor in computer science, also cited a demand for students trained in digital forensics. This is a subset of cyber security, which has a much broader focus. DigItal forensics, he said, is concerned with working in law enforcement to gather evidence after a crime is committed. Those in the field access information from devices and make sure the chain of evidence is maintained.  A digital forensics lab has just been renovated, and the department already has two faculty members who specialize in the field. The programs now must be approved by the university trustees, and then the state. In his remarks to the senate, President Rodney Rogers spoke of what promises to be a major expansion of BGSU’s curriculum, the merger with Mercy College. The university and Mercy Health have signed a letter of intent for the operations of the nursing college to be transferred to BGSU, and BGSU trustees gave the administration the authority to pursue the deal this Friday. Rogers said Mercy College complements BGSU. It gives university undergraduate and graduate nursing programs as well as programs other health specialties. Mercy College also works extensively with post-traditional students, while BGSU remains an institution with mostly traditionally aged students. Mercy will provide the university with an array of programs aimed at helping meet the “critical need for nurses and other health professionals.” Rogers said the university is doing its due diligence on the merger with a sense of urgency. This, he said, means that he’s unable to answer the many questions that have been posed by faculty and others. Such a transfer, he said, has never happened in Ohio, though there have been some similar actions nationally including the merger of a Catholic-affiliated nursing college with a public university. The process is expected to as long as four years, which is when the university’s current arrangement with the University of Toledo ends.

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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 begins. Treatment does work and people recover.” Evidence of that is seen with the county’s new Addiction Response Collaboration program through Dobson’s office. Since its inception about four months ago, the program has worked with 35 opiate addicts in Wood County. Of those, seven people have been sober for three months, and three have been sober for four months. That is a good retention rate, according to ARC’s Belinda Brooks. “I don’t think there’s an EMS or law enforcement in the county that hasn’t seen something” of the opiate epidemic, Brooks said. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said his deputies had another save from an overdose this past weekend. He also said it’s not uncommon for the county jail’s holding cells to be doubled up with people detoxing. “I never would have thought I would be carrying narcan in my pocket,” he said, showing the small nasal injector. Wasylyshyn acknowledged that some people are critical of first responders making multiple rescues of the same addicts. “Why do you want to save them,” they ask. Simply because all of them are someone’s son, sister, mother, grandson, the sheriff said. “Gee, maybe you should only save them so many times,” some people…

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 concerns heightened after 17 students and teachers were killed by the Parkland shooter. “Anxiety is through the roof,” Hetrick said in the days following the Florida school shooting. Immediately after the Parkland school shooting, Bowling Green Police Division increased its foot patrols near local schools and drive-throughs of school parking lots. “We have stepped that up,” Hetrick said during the recent school safety forum held by the school district at the county library. Though the police division does not have enough officers to station them at the schools, Hetrick said the response time averages one to two minutes. The officers are well-equipped, train for active shooter responses, and are familiar with all the school buildings, Hetrick said. Prior to the Columbine school shooting, many police departments waited outside schools during active shooting incidents. Bowling Green police have a policy of “solo engagement,” meaning the first officer on the scene goes in immediately, by himself if necessary. “This is on our minds all the time – what we train for and what we’re equipped for,” Hetrick said. Every officer is equipped with an AR-15 rifle, assault vests and medical kids. “You enter, you find the threat, you neutralize the threat,” the…

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. It’s great for Toledo,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.” Toledo will also pay for medical costs or other expenses that arise with its inmates, according to the agreement. The jail housing agreement has been in place since Dec. 31, with Toledo paying for each month’s beds in advance, the sheriff said. The contract extends over six months and is subject to change if either party seeks revisions. So if Wood County needs the extra bed space, the agreement can be revised, Wasylyshyn said. That, however, is unlikely since as of Wednesday the Wood County Justice Center was housing 173 prisoners in its 240-bed facility. The Wood County jail also accepts inmates from Maumee, Sylvania, Hancock County and Ottawa County on an as-needed basis. Last year, that brought in an additional $150,000, the sheriff said.

BG man linked to crimes by stolen panties and DNA on pizza crust

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hundreds of bras and panties, DNA from a pizza crust and intricate handwritten notes have allegedly helped link a Bowling Green man to at least seven burglaries committed in the city over the last five years. Bradley Feasel, 33, of 236 S. Grove St., was indicted last week on 11 counts of burglary and one count of breaking and entering. Police believe there will likely be more charges as they continue to go through the evidence found at Feasel’s home. “It’s pretty alarming,” said Bowling Green Police Major Justin White. Police reportedly found a folder of handwritten notes at Feasel’s home, listing dates with names of females. Under the names were notes indicating the items that were taken and the method of entry into the residences. In one note under “Manville House,” it reportedly reads “all rooms masturbated.” At a home on Byall Avenue, a bullet point mentioned “red panties.” In some cases, women were sleeping at the homes when Feasel allegedly entered. On a few incidents when Feasel was seen by the residents, he was barefooted. Many of the victims reported to police that they believed their homes had been entered multiple times. Many were college students, who shared clothing with their roommates, so the disappearance of underwear was not initially noticed. Police said they also found a Google pin map, with handwritten notes on it. One notation reported said “65 enters.” After gaining search warrants for all of Feasel’s electronic devices, police found that Feasel had allegedly made Google searches for several of his victims. He also reportedly searched for them on Facebook, Pinterest, Linked In and MySpace. It also appears from the police reports that Feasel frequented a downtown bar where one of the victims was employed and other victims told police they often visited. This is not the first time for Feasel to face charges of illegally entering homes and taking women’s underwear. He served six months in 2004 after being found with several women’s bras and panties that he had stolen from a Bowling Green apartment. This time around, the search of Feasel’s residence in 2017 reportedly turned up “several containers” full of women’s bras, panties and clothing stored in the loft area of the garage. In addition to bras and panties (seemingly preferring Victoria Secret items), Feasel allegedly took hair extensions, vibrators, headphones, photos, and one woman’s copy of the book, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Many of those items have been identified by women – some who reported the crime before, and others who didn’t even realize items had been stolen. Police were able to locate some of the women by using Feasel’s notes, his mapping, and sometimes by student names on sorority clothing that was stolen, they said. “Once we realized his mode of operandi and after getting evidence from the search warrant, we were able to go back and connect cases,” White said. In one case, Feasel was linked to a crime scene by the DNA he reportedly left behind when he finished up a partially eaten pizza in a box in the refrigerator. He ate all but the crusts, which BCI tested and reportedly found Feasel’s DNA. “He had such a cavalier approach,” White said, noting the number of times Feasel apparently entered…

Safe Communities wants happy & safe ending for New Year’s celebrations

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The numbers on impaired driving are nothing to celebrate. This year, 31 percent of the fatal crashes in Wood County involved impaired driving, said Sandra Wiechman, the Safe Communities coordinator for Wood County at a press briefing Thursday. Sgt. Shawn Fosgate, assistant post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Bowling Green Post, said that the percentages of accidents, 30 percent, and arrest related to OVI, 10 percent, remain constant. With more incidents that means “the numbers are going up.” That’s a trend that Wiechman, Fosgate, BG Police Chief Tony Hetrick, and the other partners in Wood County Safe Communities Coalition work year round to reverse. For the fifth time Safe Communities will start the year by sponsoring Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride. Those who feel unable to drive on New Year’s Eve can call 419-823-7765 from 11 p.m. Dec. 31 through 4 a.m. Jan. 1 and get a ride through the initiative. The program has supplied more than 600 rides in its first four years. Wiechman said three vans – two provided by the Thayer Family Dealerships and one by the Committee on Aging – are available to get people home from parties and bars safely. “If you plan to drink, don’t drive, and if you plan to drive, don’t drink,” said Edgar Avila, president and CEO of AAA Northwest Ohio. Planning ahead is important, Wiechman said, “so you don’t decide when you’re impaired. … It only takes one time for a tragedy to happen.” The Swallow Your Pride program is just one option for a safe ride home. There’s Super Cab and ride sharing services, such as Uber or Lyft, where available. There’s also the friend who serves as a designated driver. “There’s no reason to drive impaired driving in Wood County or Bowling Green,” Wiechman said. Wiechman said that being impaired because of alcohol or drugs are not the only problems. She urged people not only to give their keys to someone else if they were drinking, but give their phone to someone else if they’re driving. Wearing a seat belt is the best way to reduce the chance of a fatality in an accident, she added. Impaired driving is a major problem, she said. Two out of three people will be involved in an OVI accident in their lifetimes. Someone dies because of impaired driving every 15 minutes. The price tag for OVI is $132 billion annually.