law enforcement

Wood County ‘park rangers’ changed to ‘park police’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The shouted command, “Stop, park ranger,” just doesn’t carry the same authority as “Stop, police.” For that reason and others, the Wood County Park District’s rangers asked the park board Tuesday to change their title from rangers to police officers. The park board voted unanimously to do so. In the past, the county park rangers had law enforcement and maintenance roles. That has changed, and the rangers now perform strictly law enforcement duties. The park rangers are certified Ohio Peace Officers, and the name change would clarify their authority. “In making this change, we are hoping to clarify exactly what we do as certified peace officers working in the park district, and to help our employees, visitors and neighbors feel more secure while being in or near our properties,” the rangers’ proposal stated. “As rangers, we constantly encounter people who have no idea what a park ranger is or that we are law enforcement officers,” the proposal continued. “We have had people question our need for carrying a gun, if we have the same authority as law enforcement, and challenge us when we try to enforce park rules and laws.” The rangers also said when working with multiple agencies and dispatchers, it takes time to explain their authority. When rangers formally make a criminal charge in court, they sometimes have to remind court employees that they are certified peace officers. “We believe that because of the public’s inability to distinguish exactly what we are or what we do, eventually an incident may escalate the need for force and thus escalate the liability of the park district,” their proposal stated. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said Delaware County’s park system has changed the title of its rangers to police. “It clears up any vagueness to what their responsibility is,” Munger said. Ranger Mark Reef agreed. “This is so the public can identify that we have law enforcement authority.” Toledo Metroparks still refers to its officers as rangers, according to Scott Carpenter, head of public relations for…

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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…


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….


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…


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…


911 system will take text messages by late next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next year at this time, Wood County residents should be able to text messages to “911” to get help during an emergency. Wood County and others partnering in the local 911 system are investing about $1 million to upgrade the current emergency system. Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said the existing 911 system is at the “end of its life,” so the upgrades are necessary. But along with the expensive upgrade comes a valuable addition, the sheriff said. Once completed, the new system will allow people in need of emergency assistance to text a message to 911. “I’m really excited about it,” Wasylyshyn said. “It will allow someone who doesn’t want to be heard to text us.” That could include someone hiding from an intruder or someone who wants to alert law enforcement without others knowing. The texting option will also allow someone to communicate with dispatchers from a very noisy location, he said. “This could be used by someone who is a victim of domestic violence, and texting from a closet,” the sheriff said. “I’m really excited about what this will allow for victims.” Photographs can also be texted to 911, where they can then be forwarded by dispatchers to law enforcement and EMS crews who will be responding to the scene. The new system will also allow dispatchers in the communication center to send back texts to the person who sent the emergency 911 message. Wood County will be the second county in Ohio to have the technology in place to allow for 911 texting. Delaware County is expected to have its upgrades in place early next year. Wood County’s upgrades will be made throughout 2018, with the texting technology to be completed by the end of next year. “We’ll be the first in this area to get this,” Wasylyshyn said. “I think it’s a great step forward.” The Wood County Commissioners approved an appropriation last week for the 911 upgrade at the sheriff’s office. The upgrade contract is spread over five years, costing just over $1…


Old prescriptions adding to opiate crisis – 5 sites accepting drop-offs year-round

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across the U.S., many household medicine cabinets have old pill bottles tucked away … just in case they are needed later. That tendency to save prescriptions is adding to the opiate crisis in the nation, according to local law enforcement, public health and education leaders. An estimated 75 percent of opiate addictions start with prescription drugs. “One piece of our heroin problem is in our medicine cabinets,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Wednesday during a press conference at his office. Once people no longer need their prescribed medications, many have the habit of hanging onto them. “I’m just going to hold onto this till I need it someday.” But too often, those drugs are found and used by someone other than the original patient. So local officials in Wood County have established safe drug disposal boxes in five locations that are available year-round and round-the-clock to people wanting to dispose of old drugs. National Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 28, but the Wood County Educational Service Center, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Wood County Health District, and some law enforcement chiefs throughout the county want to offer disposal sites 365 days a year. “We cannot make significant gains in combating the drug epidemic by simply taking back our unneeded prescriptions one or two times a year,” Kyle Clark, director of prevention education at the Wood County Educational Service Center, said. “Our community needs to take action now.” The Drug Enforcement Administration approved permanent drug take-back boxes in Wood County are located at: Bowling Green Police Division, 175 W. Wooster St. Perrysburg Police Department, 300 Walnut St. Perrysburg Township Police Department, 26611 Lime City Road. North Baltimore Police Department, 203 N. Main St. Wood County Sheriff’s Office, 1960 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. The drugs are collected from the boxes by the DEA, which incinerates them. “If people would be diligent in cleaning out their medicine cabinets, they can take advantage of these boxes we have around the county,” Wasylyshyn said. “This will go a long…