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 the metroparks. “We like them being called rangers,” Carpenter said, adding that the officers do more than protect people, by also looking out for nature. Carpenter also noted that all national parks are patrolled by park rangers, not park police. Wood County Park District Chief Ranger Todd Nofzinger said the name change will not change the rangers’ roles. “It doesn’t change what we do. It doesn’t change our daily duties,” Nofzinger said. Board member Sandy Wiechman had a few logistical…

Not In Our Town hears of community policing updates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In response to national issues of improper community policing, Ohio developed standards for its police departments. The first two standards were to be met by March 31, 2017. Both Bowing Green and Bowling Green State University police divisions met those standards of training on use of force, and on complying with proper recruiting, hiring and screening processes. “Standards are a good thing,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said during a recent Not In Our Town meeting when the policing standards were discussed. “There are a lot of small agencies that don’t even have policies,” and some large agencies that don’t follow the policies they have, the chief said. Of the police departments in Ohio, nearly 80 percent are in the process of meeting the state standards. There are a total of 14 policies set by the state – with three to be met each year from here on. The three to be achieved this year involve community engagement, dispatch training and body cameras. Both the city and campus police engage the community during “Coffee with Cops” events. Hetrick said police department are not mandated to have body cameras. Bowling Green’s division recently updated its in-car cameras, but doesn’t have the funding for body cameras, he added. “It’s something I’m open to. I think they are a good thing,” the chief said. But in addition to the camera expenses, there are also costs for data storage and privacy policies that some police departments are struggling to define. Hetrick said the in-car cameras have proved valuable in refuting false claims from suspects and in helping with disciplinary action against officers. To provide body cameras for patrol officers, Hetrick estimated it would cost about $1,000 each – so about $18,000 for just the hardware. Then there would be another $20,000 to $30,000 needed for data storage, the chief said. If the funds were available, the chief said he would like the police division to be equipped with the body cameras. Both Hetrick and BGSU Police Chief Mike Campbell were asked if their officers had received training in “implicit bias.” “Implicit bias was covered in community policing,” Campbell said. The training requirements have increased from just a couple hours, to 14 hours currently, and to be increased to 40 hours by 2020. “It’s definitely on everybody’s mind,” Campbell said of the training to reduce implicit bias. Also at the Not In Our Town meeting, member Julie Broadwell spoke about the services offered by the Cocoon for victims of domestic and…

BGSU turns to Campbell to lead public safety

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Bowling Green State University has turned to an insider to fill the position of police chief and director of public safety. In a letter to BGSU faculty, staff and students, Vice President for Finance and Administration Sheri Stoll announced that Michael Campbell, who has been serving as the interim chief since last October, has been named as permanent chief. The university conducted a nationwide search, eventually selecting three finalists. In addition to Campbell, the search committee interviewed candidates from Northeast Ohio and Ann Arbor. Campbell took over as interim chief when Monica Moll left BGSU to become director of public safety at Ohio State University. It was Moll who hired Campbell as a patrol captain in April, 2011. According to Stoll’s message: “In his time at BGSU, his leadership has been critical in creating important training and professional development programs and opportunities for his officers.” He serves on a number of campus and town-gown committees, including Not in Our Town. Campbell takes over as the campus is being roiled by complaints about how sexual assaults are being handled by the university. Campbell participated in press briefings and interviews about the issue, explaining the department’s procedures. He said on the day of a protest that drew 200 people that he is always looking at ways to improve how the department does things. During another interview, he said, that his officers will do what they can to assist victims, including accompanying them to the Bowling Green City Police of the assault occurred off campus. Sexual assault cases, whether or not they are prosecuted, are also investigated by the university’s Title IX office. After graduating from Adrian College with a degree in criminal justice, Campbell started his career in law enforcement at the University of Toledo. He has a Master of Science in criminal justice from BGSU.

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….

‘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. 14 is intended to give the community a further chance to talk about local and national issues. Hetrick explained this past week that Bowling Green’s…

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 to see how the community feels.” Short has had a chance to read several of the heartfelt letters and check out the colorful sketches of…

Life of a cop turned into art in “Beautiful Pig”

From RIVER HOUSE ARTS The life of a Detroit police officer is the focus of “Ben Schonberger: Beautiful Pig,” an exhibit that opens with a reception Friday, Aug. 12, from 8 to 10 p.m. at the River House Arts and Contemporary Art Toledo, 425 Jefferson, Toledo. The reception immediately follows the artist’s 7 p.m. talk in the GlasSalon of the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion. Centered on a trove of photographs and ephemera collected by a former Detroit police officer during the latter part of the 20th Century, purposefully assembled and augmented by the artist, Beautiful Pig offers a provocative, timely, and unflinching look at cultural identity, self-perception, and the realities of racial disparity in law enforcement. The project began when Schonberger, while working in Detroit, acquired a box of photographs from Marty Gaynor, a retired police officer. Gaynor had documented the entirety of his career through thousands of images, including countless Polaroids of individuals he had arrested. Intrigued by the scope of the collection and the man responsible for amassing it, Schonberger embarked on a years-long collaborative process with Gaynor. The result is in an intensely personal yet culturally and historically revealing archive. Beautiful Pig appeared in 2013 as a self-published book to overwhelming critical acclaim. It was shortlisted by both the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Award in 2013 and the Anamorphosis Prize in 2015. Today the book can be found in the New York Public Library, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MoMA, the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, The Arts Library at Yale University, and nearly a dozen other cultural institutions. While portions of the collection have appeared in group exhibitions, the upcoming show at River House Arts will be first time Beautiful Pig has been presented in its entirety. Portions of the collection have appeared in group exhibitions, however the upcoming show at River House Arts will be first time it has been presented in its entirety. Gallery hours are by appointment by calling 419-441-4025. Online: info@river-house-arts.com.