State police chiefs spotlight BGSU department’s outreach to community

From OHIO ASSOCIATION FOR CHIEFS OF POLICE Connecting with the community on a deeper level with community policing programs is a difficult challenge for many local law enforcement agencies, but the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Police Department faces an especially unique challenge – their constituency is always changing. Chief Monica Moll was recently interviewed while over 19,800 students were just beginning classes for the 2016-2017 school year. As Chief Moll pointed out, “it is a continuous effort to reconnect with the students.” Of the over 6,300 students living on campus, almost half of them are new to the BGSU community and they bring their own perceptions of police with them — good or bad. How does the BGSU Police Department seek to connect with students? Through continuous outreach efforts that focus on those groups that may be most likely to have experienced discrimination or have a distrust of police officers. BGSU has embraced and been very successful in their outreach efforts through the program “Not in Our Town.” “Not in Our Town” is a national program launched in 1995 with the mission “to guide, support and inspire people and communities to work together to stop hate and build safe, inclusive environments for all.” Four years ago Bowling Green was struggling with how to confront acts of racism and hatred on campus and in the community. City and university leaders joined together and adopted the “Notin Our Town” program. However, the initiative is not merely a one-size fits all template – each community develops its own program recognizing that real change and success will only take root on a local level. The effort took off in Bowling Green. More than 12 community organizations and over 50,000 individual pledges were behind the effort. In June 2016, Bowling Green was recognized by Not in Our Town with a National Award for enhancing the quality of life in the community and on campus. Chief Monica Moll is quick to point out that the “Not in Our Town” initiative is a “joint effort requiring collaboration between the community, the University, the City of Bowling Green’s Police Division, and the BGSU Police Department”. To support the movement on campus, the BGSU Police Department is active in sponsoring community forums, connecting with minority communities, participating in “Coffee with a Cop” events, and hosting forums on campus called “Real Talk with Real Cops.”  (See story http://bgindependentmedia.org/real-talk-with-real-cops-for-bg-community/) They…

“Women of Wood County would be safer with Babel-Smith as Sheriff” -Janet Parks

In response to questions relative to Donald Trump’s 2005 comments about assaulting women by kissing them without their permission and grabbing their p…..s, current Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn stated that those comments had “not changed his feelings” about the candidate, thus suggesting that Trump still has his support (BG Independent News, Oct. 9, 2016). Wasylyshyn characterized Trump’s remarks as something Trump had said “20 (sic) years ago” and implied that they were not relevant today. I strongly disagree. Sexual assault is always relevant and should be especially so to a law enforcement officer. Entrusting women’s safety to someone who is willing to publicly “blow off” Trump’s vile comments would be unconscionable. Ruth Babel-Smith, a candidate for Sheriff, has stated to me that she takes Trump’s comments very seriously. She understands that sexual violence is a problem in our culture. She believes that it is the role of law enforcement to protect women against sexual assault and to prosecute those who commit it. I believe that the women of Wood County would be safer with Babel-Smith in the office of Sheriff and that the perpetrators of sexual assault would be more likely to be brought to justice. I will cast my vote for her, and I encourage others who are concerned about sexual violence to follow suit. Janet Parks Bowling Green

BG police investigating criminal damaging reports

On October 5, 2016, at approximately 11:08 AM the Bowling Green Police Division received a report of the front window of 882 Sandridge Rd being shot out with a BB gun overnight. On October 10, 2016, at approximately 1:13 PM the Bowling Green Police Division received a report of several vehicles being damaged at 540 S. Maple St. by a BB gun. The damage occurred between 2 PM on October 8, 2016 and 8 AM on October 10, 2016. On October 11, 2016, at approximately 8:23 AM the Bowling Green Police Division received the report of a loaded .357 caliber pistol as described by two complaining witnesses as being located in the bushes at 1034 Fairview. Upon arrival it appeared to the responding officer to be a real handgun; however upon closer inspection it was discovered that it was a Crossman BB gun. Anyone having any information related to these incidents is encouraged to contact the Bowling Green Police Division at (419) 352-1131, or Wood County CrimeStoppers at 1-800-54-CRIME.  

‘Real Talk with Real Cops’ for BG community

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick remembers well the two times he came close to shooting suspects. One was a BGSU student with an airsoft gun. The other, a man wielding a samurai sword. In both cases, the situations were resolved without any shots being fired. According to Hetrick, most police officers don’t take lethal force lightly. “Ninety-nine percent of the time we are doing very routine things,” he said. “It’s scary “when a call comes in about someone with a gun. Two officers on the city police department have had to shoot to kill. “It’s devastating to them,” the chief said. But around the country, the last few weeks again saw black men being killed by police. And while the Bowling Green city and university police chiefs are very open about answering community questions, a special evening is being set up to allow for a community conversation with police. The event, called “It’s Just Us: Real Talk with Real Cops,” will be sponsored by Not In Our Town BG on Oct. 14, at 6 p.m., in the BGSU Student Union theater, Room 206. “The community, the whole county is starved for this kind of conversation,” said Rev. Gary Saunders, of NIOT. The event will be an opportunity to talk with city and campus police about their policies and procedures. After the shooting deaths in Tulsa and Charlotte, the local Not In Our Town organization released a statement. “Not In Our Town BG stands with all who grieve following the deaths in Tulsa and Charlotte last week.  We also witness to the deep feelings of anger, frustration and fear that these events have generated among people of color and others here in Bowling Green and on campuses and in communities around the country.” The statement continued, “The tragedies of last week underscore the value of the cooperation and the partnership of the two police departments with NIOT-BG since our origin.  But they also show that we in Bowling Green must continue with the hard work required to reject prejudice and violence in our town, and to become a community in which all people are not just included but are respected and safe.” In an effort to keep communication open between the community and local law enforcement, Not In Our Town has helped sponsor the Coffee with Cops events. The forum on Oct….

Jail inmate in hospital after beating in visitation area

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An inmate at the Wood County jail is in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo after being beaten by another inmate last week in the visitation area of the jail. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Sunday afternoon that the two inmates were in the visitation area when one punched the other in the back of the head. “We got the victim medical attention immediately and are pressing felony charges against the inmate who beat him,” Wasylyshyn said. Operations Captain Terry James said this morning that Jesse Perez, 36, Toledo, and Franklin Socha, 26, Berea, were having a disagreement Thursday in the visitation area of the jail, when Perez allegedly punched Socha in the back of the head. James said Perez, who was in the jail for domestic violence, punched Socha “several” times. Socha, who was in the jail for felonious assault, was visiting with his mother at the time. Socha was taken to Wood County Hospital, then transferred to St. Vincent in Toledo. The hospital would not release his condition this morning. No jail staff was in the visitation area when the fight occurred, James said. That is not unusual, according to James, who said two deputies were monitoring the area from the room next door. “They saw it and called for backup,” James said. The staff was in the visitation room “very quickly,” James said after watching video of the incident. “I was pleased with how fast we were in there.” Felony assault charges against Perez will be presented to the grand jury on Wednesday. Almost all inmates at the Wood County Justice Center are permitted visitation. “All inmates, unless they are in discipline, are entitled to visitation,” Wasylyshyn said. The sheriff is hoping to change to video communication in the future, so the inmates stay in their jail areas, and their visitors communicate with them similar to Skype.  

NIOT plans ‘Real Talk with Real Cops’ at BGSU

(As submitted by Not In Our Town BG) Not In Our Town BG stands with all who grieve following the deaths in Tulsa and Charlotte last week.  We also witness to the deep feelings of anger, frustration and fear that these events have generated among people of color and others here in Bowling Green and on campuses and in communities around the country. One of our NIOT cornerstones remains our commitment both to truth-telling and to improving the relations of our BG and BGSU police with the Bowling Green community at large.  We continue to support “coffee with cops” events, and we highlight the coming community/police conversation called “It’s Just Us:  Real Talk with Real Cops.”  This will take place Friday Oct. 14 in the theater (room 206) of BGSU’s Bowen Thompson Student Union at 6 p.m.  There is no overstating the importance of open and honest communication with and by our officers, particularly involving those who have reason to be fearful due to current and past events. The tragedies of last week underscore the value of the cooperation and the partnership of the two police departments with NIOT-BG since our origin.  But they also show that we in Bowling Green must continue with the hard work required to reject prejudice and violence in our town, and to become a community in which all people are not just included but are respected and safe.  

Policing expert: Releasing shooting videos is problematic

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In the wake of fatal police shootings in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, citizens are again demanding that police release the videos of the incidents. In Charlotte, where demonstrations have been violent at times, protestors have chanted “release the tapes” of the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. (Police Saturday decided make available two videos from police cameras.) Phil Stinson, Bowling Green State University professor in criminal justice and leading expert on policing, said he understands those calls. “I can fully understand from a point of public policy why these videos need to get out for transparency.” However, “if I was a prosecutor I would not want these videos out before trial, certainly not before the investigation was completed,” he said.  “It really does hamper the investigations when the videos get out quickly.” Not releasing the videos “suggests that they’re not necessarily hiding something, but they are pursuing the investigation.” What troubles Stinson is the some of the videos “show law enforcement officers acting in ways not consistent with their training.” Often, he said, “the narrative provided by the officers on the scene and those involved in the shooting are inconsistent with the video evidence. Either they’re lying or their recollections are flawed, which is not surprising given people are not very good at remembering things.” Stinson said it’s probably a combination of those two factors, false reports and mistaken perceptions. “An officer may believe there was an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or deadly force, but they could have been mistaken.” Whether the shooting is justified comes down to whether that fear “is objectively reasonable,” whether an officer acting according to their training would perceive that threat. Stinson would like to see the use of independent prosecutors for these cases. Anyone from the state attorney general’s officer down to the local prosecutor has some level of conflict of interest because of their dealings with police officers. “It just takes away the public concern of bias and lack of impartiality,” Stinson said. “These are ugly cases and I don’t think they are going to stop,” he said. He’s been studying police shootings for 12 years, and the numbers are consistent, about 1,000 people are shot and killed by on-duty police officers every year. “It’s business as usual.” Over that period 77 have been prosecuted for either manslaughter or murder. That includes the…

BG shop owner catches shoplifter with help from strangers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This crook didn’t stand a chance. He picked the wrong shop owner to steal from – a marathon runner. He picked the wrong location – next to the police station. And he ran the wrong direction – almost getting hit by the city prosecutor’s car before being nabbed by two strangers. Amy Craft Ahrens has chased down shoplifters before – four times, actually. But on Tuesday, the For Keeps shop owner got a little extra help from bystanders. In the end, two good Samaritans tackled the suspected thief, and Craft Ahrens returned to her shop with the stolen purple Vera Bradley bag. Police were quickly on the scene, since the For Keeps shop shares an alley with the police station. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick was sitting in his office with Major Justin White when they heard shouting in the alley. They looked out the window. “We saw Amy running, chasing after someone,” Hetrick said. He couldn’t tell exactly what she was yelling, but “you could tell it was loud and angry.” It all started around noon, when Craft Ahrens was on the phone with a vendor in her shop at 144 S. Main St. She saw a man come in the front door of the store. He walked along the aisle with Vera Bradley items, then headed to the back door. As he walked out the door, “I could see something purple in his hand.” She recognized it as a $108 Vera Bradley bag. “I said, ‘I’ve got to go chase a shoplifter’ and threw the phone down,” Craft Ahrens said. If she would have been thinking clearly, Craft Ahrens said she would have just approached the man quietly. “But I yelled ‘stop,’ and immediately he started running.” “I was yelling, ‘Stop thief,’ like right out of a movie. Who does that?” The man – Randy Arndt – ran out into traffic on Wooster Street, and was almost hit by a car driven by City Prosecutor Matt Reger, who then pulled over in the alley to help. A couple was walking on Wooster Street, and heard Craft Ahrens yelling. The pedestrian, Chris Burden, basically “hip-checked him and knocked him to the ground,” Hetrick said. Meanwhile, another car on Wooster Street pulled into the alley, and a passenger, Collin Dille, got out and helped when Arndt tried to get up and…

Sheriff pleads case for more jail holding cells

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not uncommon for Wood County inmates to be doubled up in the booking holding cells, or even placed in an office where the furniture has been replaced with a cot. Though far from ideal, the current booking area of the Wood County jail just does not have room for all the traffic, especially all the special needs created by drug use or mental health conditions. “It’s a ticking time bomb,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Tuesday morning to the county commissioners. “It’s not a safe way to do it, but we don’t have any options.” But the sheriff hopes that will change. Wasylyshyn made his pitch to the commissioners again for expansion of the jail’s booking and medical areas. He made the same request about five years ago, but at that time the commissioners approved the part of the expansion allowing more beds at the facility, but not the booking area. At that point, the booking expansion was estimated at around $5 million. When the Wood County jail was built in 1989, it was intended to have a larger inmate booking area. But efforts to trim costs resulted in the booking area being smaller than planned. Wasylyshyn said the expansion can no longer be put on hold. The current booking area has five cells, intended to hold one person each. The request is that the area be expanded to six individual cells for men, five individual cells for women, two group cells for men, and one group cell for women. The group holding cells could accommodate 10 each. Since the jail first opened in 1990, the needs have changed. Now the facility is booking more people with drug addictions and people feeling suicidal. So the holding cells are being used for these people, who must be kept under watch. One person who was deemed suicidal, but did not qualify for care at a psychotic facility, was kept in a holding cell for six months, where he could be checked on every 10 minutes. “Everyone knows we have a problem with drugs everywhere,” said Ronda Gibson, jail administrator. “It makes us not have holding cells for what is actually intended,” she said. Gibson estimated on any given day there are four to five active detox cases that have to be watched at all times. “The female population everywhere has gone up…

Monica Moll leaves BGSU to become top cop at Ohio State

Monica Moll, the director of public safety at Bowling Green State University,will leave her post at the end of October to take the position of director of public safety at Ohio State University. Moll has been at BGSU for six years. Capt. Mike Campbell will serve as interim chief during the search process. In her notice to campus of Moll’s departure, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Sheri Stoll wrote: “In Monica’s six years with BGSU, she has made a deep and lasting impact. Under her leadership, the BGSU Police Department has gained recognition as an outstanding law enforcement organization. Chief Moll, along with her team, has worked to increase the department’s functional capabilities by greatly improving training and professional development. She has created a more rigorous selection process for hiring new officers, formed a public safety advisory committee to better engage with the campus community, and worked tirelessly to enhance campus relationships between her officers, our students and the community.” A farewell reception is planned for Monday, Oct. 24, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. the Community Room (202B) at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Parking kiosk system use in Lot 2 to begin Monday, Sept. 12

The parking kiosk system in City Parking Lot 2 has been fully installed. Beginning on Monday,  Sept. 12, visitors of Lot 2 will be required to begin to pay for 2-hour or 10-hour parking at one of the 3 kiosks within this parking lot. Previously enforced parking rules will continue including the prohibition to backing into or pulling through parking spaces. As a reminder, visitors will be required to enter their license plate number at the kiosk so the vehicle can be associated with the payment.

Police & firefighters to be thanked with barbecue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sometimes a good barbecued dinner says “thank you” like nothing else can. So next Sunday – the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks – local police, fire and sheriff employees will be thanked for their service to the community with a free barbecued chicken dinner in Bowling Green City Park. The dinner is being offered by Modern Woodmen as part of its Everyday Hero initiative. “This year marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Modern Woodmen’s Be an Everyday Hero project remembers and honors those lost … and recognizes the brave first responders, military members and others who continue to serve our community every day,” said D.J. Deiter, managing partner with Modern Woodmen. A couple hundred police, fire and sheriff employees and their families are expected to attend the barbecue in the Veterans Building at the park. “I thought it was important to invite their families as well,” Deiter said. This is the first time the local first responders will be honored this way. Deiter said now is an important time for the community to show its appreciation for law enforcement and firefighters. “With all the negativity that’s going on against the police, we wanted to do something special for them,” he said. The dinner will give first responder families time to sit down to eat and socialize together. As of last week, nearly 200 were signed up for the barbecue. “Every department has been very gracious,” Deiter said. “I’m not a military person myself,” though several of his family members have been in the service, Deiter said. “I’ve always had a great deal of respect for what they do. We should do whatever we can to say thanks and show we appreciate them.” This will be the second time in a few weeks that Modern Woodmen has recognized local law enforcement. Bowling Green Police Officer Robin Short was recently given the Hometown Hero Award for working with children in the community. Short was honored at a Bowling Green High School football game, and given stacks of letters from her young fans and their parents. She is a DARE officer in Bowling Green City Schools, teaches Safety Town for kids, and coaches a variety of youth sports for the city parks and recreation department. “I was very surprised,” she said of being honored as a Hometown Hero. “I’m very honored. It’s heartwarming…

Arresting images portray intersection of policing & art

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ben Schonberger’s art installation, “Beautiful Pig,” at River House Arts in Toledo couldn’t come at a more fraught moment coming as it does in a time when our reactions are color coded. The heart-felt cry of Black Lives Matter giving rise to the reaction of Blue Lives Matter. Schonberger collaborated with retired Detroit detective Marty Gaynor to create a portrait of the cop and his community and the relationship between the cop and the artist. “I think it’s an incredibly fragile moment,” Schonberger said. “I don’t think it’s ever been more relevant.” He sees the exhibit as an opening to an “alternate” conversation about policing and community, one “that doesn’t begin with a charged reaction.” In every incident, “everybody has an alternative story,” he said. This isn’t work, he said, that someone will see in the gallery and buy to hang in their home. “The best part about this work isn’t the art, it’s to be able to have an alternative conversation about people and process. If you can have a conversation about humans and feeling, identity, empathy, survival and history, if you can understand someone’s brain for a minute, that’s when contemporary art is so powerful.” Fittingly this is the first collaboration between the gallery’s owner Paula Baldoni and the nascent group Contemporary Art Toledo. Brain Carpenter, the founder, said the group is interested in exactly these kind of shows that are more about generating debate than displaying objects. The River House walls are lined with the pictures of suspects, and cryptic symbols, documentation of Gaynor’s 31 years on the streets of Detroit. They touch as well as his identity as a Jewish man, a rarity in law enforcement. They touch on the ethnic divide of urban policing – most of the suspects are African-American. The material at first seems unmediated, but looking closely, Schonberger’s shaping hand is evident. He didn’t just take the material and slap it up on the walls. He took it, asked questions, revisited the scenes. The bare walls of the gallery in the historic Secor building add an additional layer of authenticity. City life goes on outside the ceiling to floor windows; the neon Star of David inside the gallery is visible to those passing by. Schonberger had the idea for the project when he moved to Detroit in 2011. Initially it would be a series of works,…

Murder prompts calls for violent offender registry

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The murder of a 20-year-old University of Toledo student last week has spurred a call from Northwest Ohio citizens for a violent offender registry in the state. So State Senators Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, have begun working on a system that could better inform and warn the public about violent offenders in their midst. Citizens in the region asked legislators to consider such a registry following the murder of Sierah Joughin in Fulton County.  James Worley, the man charged with Joughin’s murder, was convicted of abduction in 1990 and served three years in prison. Gardner said he and Hite, who both represent portions of Fulton County, are responding to people outraged and horrified by the murder and the similarities to the previous abduction. “We are considering concerns and anxieties of citizens,” Gardner said. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 10,000 people had signed the petition asking for the registry. “This person obviously is a sick, disturbed individual,” he said of Worley. “The question is, are there any other unsolved murders around the state.” A violent offenders registry would at least make citizens aware of such offenders residing in their neighborhoods, Gardner said. To determine the best way to set up such a system, Gardner said he has spoken with four sheriffs, the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and county prosecutors. “We’re doing our homework,” he said. “We are thinking about the most practical, best way to do this.” The system would probably work similarly to Ohio’s existing sex offender registry law. Several other states have violent offender registries, including neighboring Indiana. The senators will gain information from Indiana and other states as they begin working on an effective public registry process for Ohio. In Indiana, anyone classified as a sex or violent offender must register for 10 years. Those classified as sexually violent predators must register for life. According to Gardner and Hite, Ohio lawmakers have taken significant steps to address the issue of violent crime by strengthening penalties for repeat violent offenders and conducting a comprehensive review of that state’s criminal justice laws. Last year, the General Assembly approved Senate Bill 97, known as the Violent Career Criminal Act, which classifies any adult convicted of at least two violent felonies in the past eight years as a “Violent Career Criminal.” Violent offenders under this…

Review of BGPD shows very low use of force, few citizen complaints

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News There were enough chairs set up in the Simpson building Tuesday to seat every citizen who had filed a complaint against the Bowling Green Police Dvision in the past three years. And there would be room for more. None of them showed up when a visiting accreditation team from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.  set up shop to receive citizens’ comments. City Councilman Bruce Jeffers was there. He said the police force is “positively engaged with the community.” In a time when there are so many reports of clashes between police and citizens with violence “going in both directions,” he is “amazed” how the BG officers “deal with large number of partying students … without losing control or using excessive force.” Planning Director Heather Sayler was there as a resident to praise the department, especially the D.A.R.E. program. Fire Chief Tom Sanderson was there to lend his support to Chief Tony Hetrick and the officers. He and his crews see first-hand BG police officers’ ability to de-escalate tense situations, which allows EMS crews and firefighters to feel safe doing their jobs. That camaraderie between the fire and police divisions is not always the case, said Robert Johnson, a retired Illinois State Patrol lieutenant colonel. Also on the CALEA team was Capt. Brad Fraser, from Shelby, North Carolina. Lt. Daniel Mancuso serves as the BGPD’s accreditation manager. That wasn’t the only surprising thing they found in reviewing the BG police’s performance from 2013 through 2015. Over that period, Johnson said, Bowling Green officers never used their firearms, nor did they use their batons. He called that “pretty surprising… given the climate the police operate in.” “This is far better than I expect to see,” Johnson said. “I’m more used to seeing force used more frequently and use of greater force.” In that three-year period, BG police made 8,000 arrests, and used force in 71 of those. Not a single lawsuit related to use of force was filed against the department. In the same period, the police issued 26,000 traffic citations and warnings. They made 89,000 calls for service. And they received 54 citizen complaints. The accreditation process is voluntary. CALEA is the only national and international agency. Johnson said 5-10 percent of law enforcement agencies opt to seek CALEA accreditation. Among those is the Bowling Green State University department. Bowling Green was…