law enforcement

New sheriff’s deputy in town for courthouse security

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rob Eaton walked into a mess this morning on his first day on the job as director of security for the Wood County Courthouse Complex. “I walked in and there are alarms going off everywhere. I thought – Holy Toledo,” Eaton said this morning. The phones were down because of a system-wide problem with the phone lines, causing the alarms to blare at the courthouse. “It was baptism by fire,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said as he introduced Eaton to the county commissioners this morning. The phones were back in service by 8:20 a.m. Eaton has been with the sheriff’s office for 26 years, starting on the corrections staff, moving to road patrol, serving on the Special Response Team, and most recently in the civil division. He also served 14 years in the Army National Guard. Eaton will receive an annual salary of $65,894. He has no plans to change operations in courthouse security, set up under his predecessor Becky Ewing. “I’m looking forward to this challenge of working with everyone,” he said. Since October, the security at the courthouse complex has been divided. The sheriff’s office is in charge of the grounds, buildings and entrances. The court constables, led by Ron Dicus, are in charge of the courtrooms and adult probation. The primary challenge of the job is clear, Eaton said. “Making sure everyone is safe,” from the public to county employees, he said. At the same time, citizens must feel the courthouse complex is a public facility, Wasylyshyn said. “There’s a tough balance between making everyone feel welcome” and making sure they are save, the sheriff said. Also during his meeting with the county commissioners, Wasylyshyn reported that security staff members are now offering fingerprinting in the atrium at the request of the judges. He also mentioned that the security staff is trying to be more visible in the courthouse and county office building. The commissioners acknowledged seeing the staff throughout the complex.

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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…

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.    

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 million. Sharing in this cost are Bowling Green State University ($56,211), Ottawa County ($166,680), and Sandusky County/Clyde ($215,513). Following is some information about texting 911 from the Federal Communications Commission: Texting during an emergency could be helpful if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, or if a voice call to 911 might otherwise be dangerous or impossible. But if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911. Check with your wireless phone company. In general, you must have a text-capable wireless phone and a wireless service subscription or contract with a wireless phone company. You may also need a “wireless data…

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 way in keeping youth from getting hooked on painkillers,” Clark said. Wood County Commissioner Ted Bowlus presented a proclamation at the press conference, declaring every day as a drug take-back day in Wood County. “This proclamation symbolizes the fight” against opiate addiction, he said. Last year alone, at least 4,149 people died in Ohio from accidental opiate overdoses. Bowlus recognized the law enforcement, public health and education officials who teamed up for this effort to get old drugs out of homes. “This is a battle that we’re fighting against opiate addiction,” he said. The drug take-back boxes are intended for dry pills only, not liquids. For people looking for a safe way to dispose of liquid drugs, Dterra pouches that deactivate medications are being made…

Sheriff Wasylyshyn eyes putting more drones on duty

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As special deputy Larry Moore walked across the lawn in front of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, the hovering drone caught his every move. Even as he zig-zagged under a group of trees, the infrared camera showed the glowing image of Moore. “It could be pitch black outside and we could see him,” Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said. The new drone purchased by the sheriff’s office is an elite – and expensive – version of the small drones that buzz the skies. This is more of an “industrial drone,” that has an infrared and a regular camera, can withstand high winds, is water resistant, can fly at night, has a range of four miles, is able to fly 40 mph, can fly as high as 400 feet which offers a square mile of coverage, and has a collision avoidance system. The DJI Matrice M210 drone came with a price tag of $23,000. But a donation of $9,000 from Michael McAlear, a special deputy and friend of the sheriff, helped the department purchase the Cadillac of drones. “That made the difference, so we could get an upgrade,” Wasylyshyn said. The sheriff is now considering the possibility of purchasing multiple smaller drones that can be deployed quickly by each shift of the road patrols. “Eventually, drones will be issued with your shotgun,” he predicted. The smaller drones come with smaller price tags – about $1,000 each. They could be used in crises where time is critical, such as a river rescue. The smaller drones, that weigh no more than 1.5 pounds, can be deployed in less than a minute. They can also fly inside buildings, which would allow the sheriff’s office to get an eye on a situation without endangering staff. The small drones can spot someone hiding or someone armed inside a building. By the end of the year, Wasylyshyn hopes to have a couple of the smaller drones on duty. Any of the drones could be used to help in searches for runaways or people with dementia who have wandered from home. The sheriff’s office new drone has already been used to help find a suspect who fled from the Fostoria Police. The drone was able to spot him in a woods. “Another success story,” said Sgt. Greg Panning, who is one of four people on the department trained to operate the drone. The drone also helped corral a herd of 52 cattle that had escaped from a farm. “There were cattle running down Poe Road and some on Carter Road,” Panning said. The sheriff’s office envisions the drone being used to take overhead photos of major accident scenes, and to get information at hazardous material spills. “We could put this right on top of it,” Panning said of spills that would be…

Sheriff to try free phone to reduce wayward released inmates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Sheriff’s Office plans to change its jail release procedures in response to freed inmates walking to neighboring facilities to get rides home. Last week, a Toledo man released from the Wood County Justice Center walked across East Gypsy Lane Road to Wood Haven Health Care. Douglas Pribbe, 52, was reportedly looking for a phone so he could get transportation home. Since the nursing home is in city limits, Bowling Green Police Division was called after Pribbe was reportedly causing problems for the nursing home staff and visitors. Pribbe was advised by police to not return to Wood Haven. “They just release them,” Bowling Green Police Major Justin White said of the jail. “It doesn’t surprise me, if they don’t have a ride, they are probably trying to get someone to pick them up.” This is not the first time for a released inmate to visit another agency or business near the jail, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said. The sheriff has gotten reports of ex-prisoners going to Snook’s Dream Cars, Wright Auto, Mid County 120 EMS, Wood Lane, and other county offices on East Gypsy Lane Road. “They are no longer under our control,” once they are released from jail, Wasylyshyn said. Upon release, all inmates are given a three-minute calling card that they can use in the phone in the lobby of the justice center. “Every single one of them,” gets a card, the sheriff said. But many of them walk out without making a call, Wasylyshyn said. “I wish I knew why they aren’t using that calling card – unless they just want to get out of our facility,” he said. But when Wood Haven reported this latest incident, the sheriff decided to have a phone installed in the lobby of the justice center that can be used at no cost. “We’re going to try that to see if that minimizes the problem,” he said. “We’re hoping that reduces the number of people” who visit neighboring businesses once released. That may also decrease the number of released inmates who walk along Dunbridge Road to Meijer, White said. Bowling Green police have been called multiple times to respond to Meijer for freed inmates. “For everything from loitering around, to asking people for money or for rides,” White said. “We’ve arrested people for shoplifting, then they go to Meijer and shoplift again,” after being released.