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Kelleys Island police 'hostile' and 'aggressive'

Matt Westerhold • Aug 1, 2012 at 4:20 AM

Below is a copy of a letter the Register received on Tuesday forwarded to us by state Rep. Dennis Murray Jr.

I'm not surprised by the description this woman provides concerning her unfortunate encounter with a Kelleys Island police officer, given KI police chief Ron Ehrbar's past responses to concerns raised by other vistors to the island. The police officer was "hostile and aggressive," according to the letter-writer, and "the infraction and his description of it are both fabrications."

The Register will seek to report on this incident further and ask for all public records related to it and to the island ticketing system that allows for a $245 fine for a minor traffic infraction.

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July 30, 2012

Mayor Kyle Paine

Police Chief Ron Ehrbar

Village of Kelley’s Island

PO Box 469

Kelley’s Island, Ohio  43438

Dear Mayor Paine and Chief Ehrbar:

As I am sure you are both aware, I was stopped and cited by Officer Shawn Craig on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at approximately 11 am in the state park. Officer Craig indicated I had run a stop sign, his words were “plowed through the stop sign and almost hit” his cruiser.  The infraction and his description of it are both fabrications.

I have been visiting Kelley’s Island for many years.  This trip I was accompanied by my sister (she is a 61 year-old public school teacher) and my brother-in-law (a 59 year-old Episcopalian priest).  I am a 58 year-old long-time state employee (a legislative aide).  Officer Craig was hostile and aggressive.  I am not sure what prompted his behavior; I did not argue with the citation nor did anyone else in the car even speak to him.  

I was shocked to learn that the price of the ticket was $245; the same fine for driving with an open container.  According to the website of Jeff Raynard, an attorney, the average traffic fine in Ohio is $90 to $130.  I was even more surprised to learn that my only recourse was to appear in your mayor’s court which is today, at 2 pm. Securing overnight accommodations and taking another day off work would incur  far more expense than the $245 fine; a fact which your village is quite aware of.  Your obvious intention is to trap the tourists, slap them with an exorbitant fine and make the appeal process next to impossible.

The purpose of this trip with my family was to explore purchasing vacation property on the island. Obviously we have changed our mind.  My sister and her husband couldn’t leave the island quickly enough.  I will not be returning.

I have paid the fine.  And though I am intelligent enough to realize withholding my vacation dollars and even the potential purchase of real estate isn’t going to make a significant dent in the Kelley’s Island economy, I plan to fully exercise my First Amendment right.  The attached sheet shows the people, agencies and businesses with whom I have shared my very disheartening experience with your law enforcement agency.

Cheryl L. George

Columbus

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