County police take children on shopping trips

Submitted by WOOD COUNTY FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE The Wood County Fraternal Order of Police held its annual Cops and Kids Shopping Event on Saturday December 3 2016.  This is an event where police officers are paired up with a child from the area and provided a $100.00 gift card to spend on clothing and toys.  This is more than just about shopping, it is about building relationships between the kids and police officers. This year Meijer in Rossford again hosted  Cops and Kids here in Wood County.  This past Saturday, approximately 72 local law enforcement officers were able to take 127 kids shopping.  The majority of the financial support comes from the community, local businesses and local organizations.  The FOP certainly could not achieve this without the support of the community.  This event is a great opportunity for law enforcement and the community to work together to make local children’s holiday season a little brighter.  The kids that are invited to participate are referred by the local schools as well as from the officers.  On a daily basis, police officers are responding to calls here in Wood County.  As a result, they are in homes where they can see firsthand that a particular family could benefit from a helping hand.   The officers are paired up with a child from their jurisdiction and given a cart, a gift card and sent on their way to shop and more importantly, build that positive relationship.  They must first buy a coat.   The remaining money can be spent on toys.  A lot of times, the kids want to buy their brother or sister a gift as well.  The positive impact this has on the local kids and community is not really measurable.  And again, our local police officers could not pull it off without the financial support of the community.  The Wood County FOP Cops an Kids Program not only hosts this shopping event in December, but other programs through out the year.  In the Spring, the FOP host a movie night.  Officers invite area kids to come to the movie theater and watch a movie and share some popcorn.  In May of each year, the FOP invites 4th and 5th graders with perfect attendance to a day of fishing at Bass Pro.  The FOP continues to work with the community to come up with different programs were officers get to spend time with area kids in positive events.  Our goal is to have the kids see the officers past their uniforms, and realize they are there to help.   

Former BGSU chief talks about OSU attack response

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Monica Moll, formerly the police chief at BGSU, was on the job about a month at Ohio State University when her new campus came under attack. On Monday, a man plowed his car into a group of people and then pulled out a knife and charged at victims. Eleven people were hospitalized after the attack. Within a couple minutes, the attacker, student Abdul Razak Ali Artan, had been shot and killed by OSU Police Officer Alan Horujko. The incident was resolved in about the best possible manner, said Moll, now the director of public safety at OSU. “We had an officer in the right place at the right time,” she said on Thursday. Horujko had been responding to a report of a possible gas leak in the area of the attack. The officer credited his training for his quick response. “It all went according to planning,” Moll said. The university’s active shooter training and campus alert system are being credited for helping the community maintain order while the scene was secured. The campus is one of the largest in the U.S., with nearly 60,000 registered students. Law enforcement from the region responded, with officers arriving from Columbus police and fire departments, Ohio State Patrol, ATF, FBI, Homeland Security, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and other nearby campuses. OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said his officers train annually to handle active shooters, on defensive tactics and firearms. “The good news is, they have a well-oiled machine down here,” Moll said. The dispatch center was bombarded with reports and questions as the incident unfolded. “They were flooded with calls,” she said. “The dispatchers did an excellent job.” Stone said students and staff have been urged to report problems. “We encouraged people to call us,” he said. That vigilance is even more heightened on campus now. “If you see something, say something.” It wasn’t just the emergency responders whose training kicked in, but also students and faculty who had been trained for a violent incident. The campus offers a training video called “Surviving an Active Shooter.” The training is not mandated for students, faculty or staff, but the video has logged more than 350,000 views. “It really applies to any emergency,” Moll said. A campus alert sent out moments after the attack warned those on campus to “Run, Hide, Fight.” The training had prepared students to flee from the danger if they could, hide in place if they could not run, and fight if necessary. Cell phone photos sent out from…

Student charged for filing false assault report with campus police

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Bowling Green State University police have charged a second student with falsely claiming he was assaulted on campus several weeks ago. Nicholas Davis, 22, had told police on Nov. 15  that he had been assaulted behind the Student Recreation Center, called anti-gay slurs, and had his cell phone stolen. After the initial report, he said his phone had not been stolen and that he found it on the scene. Further investigation by police determined the assault had not occurred. Acting Police Chief Mike Campbell said Davis has been charged and released. He will have a hearing at Bowling Green Municipal Court. Campbell said that his officers spend many times and hours investigating reports and if those reports are false that takes time away from other police operations. Still, he said, a distinction needs to be made between a report that is legitimately a mistake and one that is deliberately false. Campbell said he would never discourage anyone from reporting an incident. “We want them to report those things.” Campbell said that there has been a heightened sense of apprehension on campus since the election, though there has not been an increase in incidents. “It’s just a matter of providing needed support” and helping people in the community and campus understand that BGSU “is a safe and inclusive environment.” Campbell said that Davis had told others that he wanted to bring attention to the problems faced by members of the LBGT community. Bowling Green city police filed charges two weeks ago, against another student who claimed she had been assaulted on Crim Street on Election Night. They determined the report was false. Eleesha Long was charged with falsification and obstructing official business.      

Sheriff asked to take messages to Trump team

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A roomful of students and faculty asked Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn Wednesday evening to deliver some messages to President-elect Donald Trump. Public policy should not be based on hatred and fear. Immigrants are not the problem. And African Americans are tired of mourning their dead then being asked by law enforcement to move on. Wasylyshyn, who is acting as a law enforcement liaison with the Trump administration, was asked to meet students and others who had concerns about the direction of the new administration. He was joined on a panel by faculty who presented brief lessons on the values of immigrants, the history of violence against African Americans, and the higher arrest rates for African Americans. Wasylyshyn, who was just re-elected to his fourth term as sheriff, said he suspected he was selected by the National Sheriffs Association to serve as liaison because of Ohio’s swing state status. He is also the incoming president of the Buckeye Sheriffs Association. He set the stage by explaining his philosophy for his office. “I truly look at us as public servants. I serve the public.” The key concerns shared so far during conference calls about the presidential transition effort have been mental health and opiate issues. Local jails have taken over where mental institutions left off, the sheriff said. “We have become the mental hospitals,” often when people stop taking their medications, he said. “We’re a revolving door. We’re saying a jail is not the right place.” The same is occurring with heroin and other opiates, with jails becoming detox centers. “We’re not designed for that.” Wasylyshyn wants to get those messages to the Trump team. But members of the BGSU audience wanted to send some different messages as well. They asked why law enforcement is more likely to give a white suspect the benefit of the doubt about mental health issues, but if the suspect is of color, law enforcement is more likely to jump to the conclusion that he is a thug or terrorist. Wasylyshyn said the actions of the suspect – not the color – determine the response. But not all see it that way. Nicole Jackson, a history professor, said her students desperately want to hear that “things get better” after the Civil Rights Movement. But the reality is not so rosy, she said, listing off name after name of black boys and men killed by law enforcement. “I’m watching images of people who look like me and my family members being killed,” Jackson said….

Sheriff’s sergeant dies after apparently shooting self in side

Sgt. Alvin Adams of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office died Saturday morning after an apparent accidental discharge of his personal weapon, according to Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn. Adams, 56, worked as a jail sergeant at the Wood County Justice Center and had been part of the force for 15 years, Wasylyshyn said Saturday evening. The sheriff said Adams was alone outside his home on River Road in Grand Rapids, when it appears he accidentally shot himself in the side, just above the hip. Adams was able to walk into his house where he told his girlfriend to call for help. He was pronounced dead at Wood County Hospital. Adams was off duty at the time of the shooting. “He will be greatly missed,” Wasylyshyn said.  “Al was very well liked, a very easy going man, well-liked by everyone in the office.” “Our hearts go out to him and his grown children and grandchildren,” Wasylyshyn said. The Wood County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Wood County Coroner’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation-Crime Scene Unit, is investigating the incident.

BG police get community relations certification

  Submitted by BOWLING GREEN POLICE DIVISION The Bowling Green Police Department (Wood County) has adopted and implemented state standards established by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board as part of the state’s efforts to strengthen community and police relations. The agency joins nearly 120 other agencies who have become certified by meeting standards for the use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring. The standards are the first of their kind in Ohio and were developed by the Collaborative in August 2015. The state has partnered with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help certify Ohio’s nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies on a process to ensure that they are in compliance with Ohio’s new standards. Certifications will continue throughout 2016. The first list of all Ohio compliant agencies will be published in March 2017. For more information on the Ohio Collaborative, the certification process for law enforcement and the complete list of agencies who have been certified, please visit: http://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/ohiocollaborative/

BG businesses warned of billing scam

The Bowling Green Police has been made aware of a billing scam involving several phone calls to a local business in which the caller stated they were with Toledo Edison. The caller claimed that the business risked a shut down of service if payment was not immediately received. The business was not a Toledo Edison customer and recognized the calls as a scam . The numbers and names associated with the scam are as follows: 1-800-872-2202 1-800-677-4032, extension 202 The City of Bowling Green Utilities Department does not rely exclusively on phone calls to warn of past due accounts and utilizes a more formal process of notification. If your business receives a similar call do not provide them with any information. If you have a question about your business account call the Bowling Green Utilities Office at 419-354-6258.

BG police say student assault report is bogus

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The BGSU student who reported being assaulted and called racial slurs last week has been charged with falsification and obstructing official business. The student, Eleesha Long, 24, had reported that she was assaulted by three white males, Nov. 9, on a sidewalk in the first block of Crim Street, near campus. But an investigation by Bowling Green Police Division has resulted in Long being charged with filing a bogus report. “Her statements changed several times,” Police Lt. Dan Mancuso said Thursday afternoon. The details Long gave detectives varied on the location and the time of the incident. During one interview, she said it occurred in the morning as she was picking up political signs, and later she said it occurred at night as she was coming home from a bar, Mancuso said. “There were completely different statements as to what had happened,” he said. Police used text messages on Long’s cell phone plus information from cell phone towers in their investigation. “She was not where she said she was,” Mancuso said. Long was contacted by BG Independent News, but declined to answer any questions about the charges. Mancuso said false reports cause the police division to spend time needlessly on a crime that didn’t occur. “It wastes a lot of the investigators’ time, when they could be following up on actual complaints.” The assault accusation also created an uproar in the Bowling Green community, since Long reported that rocks were thrown at her by three males, who surrounded her, called her the “N” word and said they were “making America great again.” She said one of the males struck her in the face. “It also causes problems in the community,” Mancuso said. “It causes fear in the community.” Long’s accusation also put BGSU in the spotlight, with students accusing university officials of not releasing alerts about the assault. During a town hall meeting held earlier this week, university officials explained they notified students of the alleged assault as soon as they were able to talk with Long about the incident. Long initially reported the incident on Facebook, and filed a police report only after BGSU officials spoke with her. When asked by police why she posted the incident on Facebook, but did not contact police, Long said she did not think anyone else had witnessed the attack and it would have been her word against their word, according to the police report. The officer in the initial interview observed red bruising on the right side of her…

Wasylyshyn a law enforcement liaison with Trump team

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn is helping the president-elect’s team plan policies for the Donald Trump presidency. Wasylyshyn, who was sworn in Tuesday evening as president of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, has been acting as a liaison between the National Sheriff’s Association and the Trump team. The sheriff hopes to have input on issues involving jails, surplus military equipment, and presidential responses to shootings by law enforcement officers. “I’ve always been very outspoken and not afraid to ask the difficult questions,” Wasylyshyn said this morning. “I’m very honored and humbled that I’ve been asked to be involved. It’s great for Wood County.” The sheriff, who recently won a fourth term, has been told to be prepared to go to Washington, D.C., on short notice. One of the initial items the sheriff’s association is being consulted on is the appointment of officials by the Trump team. “The Trump transition team has contacted us and they want input on appointments,” such as federal prosecutors, the attorney general, Homeland Security and U.S. marshals, he said. Wasylyshyn wants to make the Trump team aware of problems at jails, which is one of the “hottest issues” for law enforcement. According to the sheriff, 85 percent of all jails in the nation are run by sheriffs, and they are being overwhelmed by drug and mental health problems. “We need a serious discussion,” he said. “Jails are becoming detox facilities for people coming off heroin and other opioids. That is a drain on us.” Wasylyshyn also hopes to have input on decisions on mental health issues. “So many of the shootings” in the country involve people with mental health problems, he said. “We need to get help for these people before they go over the edge.” The sheriff wants to help convince the Trump administration to reverse the decision by President Barack Obama to limit the use of surplus military equipment by local law enforcement. That decision was made after police departments responded to protests across the nation in more of a military fashion than a community policing strategy. But Wasylyshyn said that military equipment is sometimes necessary for local law enforcement. He referred to the armored vehicle the Wood County Sheriff’s Office secured from the military, that has been used when dealing with armed suspects or as a barricade to protect the public. “When we’re sending a special response team in, I want them going in the safest vehicle,” he said. Wasylyshyn is also hoping to see a different philosophy toward police-involved…

Human trafficking is a global problem right next door

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When law enforcement breaks down the door in a human trafficking raid, they are not greeted as superheroes with capes by the victims. The teenager forced into domestic servitude, living in a basement, regularly raped, will tell them: “My life is perfect.” That’s also what Russian teachers forced to become strippers would say. And what Honduran and Guatemalan men who worked in a meat packing plant near Buffalo, New York, for seven days a week, 16 hours a day, said, even after asked about stab wounds. What they said was their detention was costing them money, $3.50 a week. “We have victims that aren’t happy to see us,” said Amy Allen, a forensic investigator for Homeland Security Investigation division.  “The first reaction is shock and denial.” Getting the truth out — that the stab wounds are inflicted when they fell asleep, that when they do sleep it’s packed jigsaw like 16 in a room the size of a bathroom – takes a special kind of questioning, one that assumes from beginning that they are victims. Allen has heard over and over. “My life is perfect.” She knows the reasons behind the statement. She knows the experiences that lead up to it. She knows the fear and deprivation that leads to such acceptance. She knows what it takes to ease those fears and get to the truth so maybe they have a chance for a better life. Allen was the first presenter in a symposium on Global Trafficking held Tuesday at Bowling Green State University. The symposium was hosted by the School of Cultural and Critical Studies. In her career Allen has traveled around the world.  Still even she was surprised that trafficking was so pervasive so close to home. That could be as close as the local nail salon or the home next door. Allen said that when she joined Homeland Security eight years ago “I just didn’t have a grasp of the reality that’s right in our backyard.” She recalled a case of a girl in Farmington Hills, Michigan. A neighbor was concerned and called child protection services to no avail. Truancy, which was the original concern, was handled by the police. That was news to the veteran detective, just a few days from retiring, who took the concerned neighbor’s call. The neighbor had talked to the girl who said she was “adopted” by the family and wanted to go to school but had to wait until she spoke English better. Strange since she expressed all this in…

BG Police investigating breaking and entering

Bowling Green Police Division is investigating a breaking and entering at Gearhart Plumbing Heating & Cooling that occurred during the afternoon hours of Oct. 30.  The suspects appear to be white males driving a white Dodge Caravan with Michigan registration.  The Dodge Caravan appears to have a full size spare tire on the passenger rear and also has visible damage to the bottom portion of the rear lift gate as well as the passenger side rear portion of the vehicle. Anyone who recognizes the vehicle or has any further information is urged to contact Det. Brian Houser at 419-352-1131 or Wood County Crime Stoppers at 419-352-0077.

Creepy reports take some fun out of clowning around

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   These are tough times for clowns. Reports of creepy clowns stalking schoolyards or streets have given well-meaning clowns a bad name. The crazy-haired, red-nosed, big-shoed clowns already suffer from an estimated 12 percent of U.S. population having an irrational fear of the costumed pranksters. There are so many with this clown consternation that the fear has its own name – coulrophobia. Then came the recent rash of creepy clown reports. Bowling Green Police Division saw a “flurry” of clown reports a couple weeks ago, Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. The only report that panned out was a couple kids who stole clown masks from a Halloween costume store in the city. But the recent scares have some legitimate clowns concerned. So that led to Doug Kaufman, otherwise known as “Curly Top,” to contact the city police and let them know that he dresses as a clown for “gigs” – with the intent to delight, not demonize. “Professional clowns aren’t the ones engaged in this activity,” Hetrick said. “People who do the clown thing take a long time to put on makeup,” and don’t just pull on a mask. Kaufman plans to alert the police anytime he has a gig, just in case they get calls about a clown around town. “I want to make sure I don’t instigate anything by accident,” Kaufman said. Kaufman is actually a graduate of “clown school,” where he learned such skills as how to apply and remove the heavy makeup, and create a repertoire of balloon animals such as long dogs, tall giraffes and tiny mice. His specialty is writing children’s names backwards on the animals so they appear correct when viewed in a mirror. “I’ve always been a little backwards,” Kaufman said in his corny clown way. He started clowning when he and his wife operated a restaurant in McClure in the 1980s. The restaurant hosted parties, and Kaufman thought offering a clown for children’s parties would be a nice perk. His wife made him a costume, topped off with a multi-colored curly wig – hence the name “Curly Top.” “It’s a little bit of a joke since I have so little hair,” Kaufman said, rubbing his nearly bald head. In the summer, he sheds the full costume for a striped shirt, shorts and mismatched shoes. A constant during all seasons is his apron full of balloons. At 6-foot 2-inches, Kaufman could scare kids already on the edge of clown phobia. “It’s a little imposing,” he said. “Because of that, I…

Sheriff wants to buy drone to aid in searches

  By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn is hoping to add an eye in the sky to help in searches in the county. The sheriff’s budget requests for 2017, presented to the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday, included a drone with thermo camera. Wasylyshyn said there were 10 times just this past summer when a drone would have been useful to the sheriff’s office. The drone would be useful in helping to search for missing children, suspects hiding in cornfields, or seniors with dementia who wander off, he said. The equipment could even help when livestock escapes, he added. The drone would cost $13,580, and a thermal nightvision monocular would cost $3,833. The infrared camera would make the drone useful in night searches. The training of staff to operate the drone is included in that amount. Wasylyshyn said the drone would pay for itself since it would be less expensive than sending groups of officers out on searches. The sheriff said he is hopeful the department can share the equipment with neighboring law enforcement in need of help with searches. The biggest ticket item on the sheriff’s budget request was the expansion of the booking and medical areas of the county jail. The expansion has been on the list for a couple years, and was ranked top on his list for next year. The estimated cost is $4.8 million. Also on the list were seven new Ford Explorers for $189,000. The sheriff’s office previously used Chevy Impalas, but those are no longer being built for law enforcement use and the greater expense of  Chevy Tahoes could not be justified, Wasylyshyn said. Also requested were more body cameras for officers, and more cameras in the jail to eliminate any blindspots in the facility. The sheriff also asked for $10,000 for the installation of new doorway from the body scanner room to the booking area. The body scanner, which is new this year, has so far identified three incoming inmates with drugs hidden in body cavities. No new personnel were in the budget request. Following is a list of the items requested: $4,867,056 for booking area expansion. $5,500 for architecture fees for the booking expansion. $189,000 for seven new Ford Explorer Pursuit SUVs for $27,000 each, replacing high mileage Chevy patrol vehicles. $49,250 for equipment for new Ford SUVs, plus $18,025 for related contracts and services. $9,927 for three Panasonic Tough Books with Windows 7 for patrol vehicles. $7,575 for three new Pyramid Radio repeaters for patrol. $9,400 for two…

BG Schools to arm doors with ‘Boots’ to keep out intruders

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A brutal attack on Rob Couturier’s daughter led the Michigan man to invent a safety system being used in schools around the nation. That system, called the “Boot,” will soon be installed on 344 doors in Bowling Green City Schools. Couturier’s daughter, a petite college freshman, was attacked and almost raped. That was just over six years ago, and he still chokes as he talks about it. “I still remember her face,” Couturier said to the school board Tuesday evening. “She turned to look at me and couldn’t see me. Her face was beat to a pulp.” Couturier knew the perpetrator and located the man shortly after the attack. Couturier tried to break down the door, dislocating his shoulder in the process. He then kicked his way through drywall to get the attacker. He saw the man barricading the door with his boots wedged up against the door. That gave the father an idea. He created the “Boot,” a rectangular-shaped plate of quarter-inch thick industrial steel. With two steel pegs, the plate can withstand 16,000 pounds of pressure and keep doors closed to intruders. But the idea stopped there, with Couturier continuing his job as a school custodian, facilities employee and coach. A couple years later, after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Couturier’s daughter called her dad about his invention. “It would have saved every one of those children,” she said to him. “I was so mad, I was only thinking of my daughter,” and not about how his invention could help others, Couturier said. So he resigned his job, sold his summer home, and started working with law enforcement and other security experts on fine-tuning his invention. His mission became keeping kids safe in the event of an intruder. His business, called The Lockdown Co., started making the “Boots” by hand, and has since installed safety equipment in more than 100 public schools and 18 private schools. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci recently saw Couturier make a presentation on the safety equipment, and immediately asked the inventor to walk the local school buildings with him. In addition to arming each door with the “Boot,” Couturier said the rooms need to be labeled more clearly to aid law enforcement when they arrive on the scene. “The signage in your building is absolutely horrible,” he said. Couturier also recommended that the district invest in a couple ballistic shields, which would slow down an intruder trying to get access through an outside glass door. He disagreed…

Nuisance parties on the upswing on East Side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In his suit and tie, Gordon Burns looked like he wanted to be anywhere else on Thursday evening. But instead, as part of his deal with the city prosecutor, he sat in the center of neighbors he had offended. He apologized to the group – people at least twice his age – for his loud party. Burns, a BGSU student, said he wasn’t aware he was causing distress to his neighbors. “From here on out, I’ll be more aware of my neighbors,” he said to the group that listened quietly. Burns, who rents a home on South Summit Street, avoided paying a $100 nuisance party fine by working six hours of community services and agreeing to stand up in front of the East Side Neighborhood Association and confess his crime. Rose Hess, head of the East Side group, told Burns that his neighbors would hold him to his statement. “Gordon, we are your neighbors,” Hess said in a motherly tone. “We look forward to a better rest of the year.” Then she gave the student another opportunity to prove his new-found self. She suggested that Burns join others in the Common Good organization and pick up litter in the neighborhood on some Saturdays. If the police blotter is any indication, the East Side neighbors may be hearing a lot of student apologies this school year. So far this year, from mid-August to Oct. 2, there have been 16 nuisance party complaints filed on the East Side of the city. That compares to 11 and 12 for the previous two years during the same time period. One resident in the area of Clough and South Summit streets said the students seemed “unusually rowdy” this year. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick concurred. “I would agree with that. We’re out there enforcing it, trying to keep peace in the neighborhoods.” “I would encourage you to call if you have problems with your neighbors,” Hetrick told the residents. A resident of Manville said the problem there is the “roving drunks” coming home in the early morning hours, yelling and banging on her door. Hess encouraged citizens to not just report problems to the city police, but also with the BGSU Dean of Students. The university code of conduct extends into the neighborhoods, she said. Hetrick said officers patrol the East Side early on Saturdays and Sundays to make students pick up trash in their yards after parties. “We wake people up” and make them clean up their front yards, he…