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Police keep arrest details secret

Register • Aug 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

In the midst of controversies surrounding complaints of false arrests and false information in police reports, the Put-in-Bay police have changed the way they track crime on the island. 

They're leaving out the details. 

About a dozen recent arrest reports filed by police simply state the charges filed against criminal suspects without detailing any information about the circumstances that led to their arrests. Some arrest reports list charges filed but fail to identify the person arrested. 

The Ohio Revised Code requires police to provide all pertinent information — with few exceptions — in arrest reports, which are public record.

The statutes are designed to prevent law enforcement agencies from making arrests without gathering evidence of a crime, or secretly arresting people without identifying them.

About a dozen recent crime incident reports filed by the PIB police don't provide information about evidence, the circumstances or causes for the arrests, or in some instances the names of the people arrested. 

On Friday, the department's public information officer told the Register the department's lawyer has recently instructed officers to alter their methods of presenting police reports to the public.

It's undetermined what information they've been told to omit, because the omitted information is not consistent.

On July 27, for example, police arrested a man at a Catawba Avenue bar and cited him with disorderly conduct intoxicated. The police report detailing the incident, which occurred at about 2:20 a.m., does not include the man's name or the acts justifying his arrest.

A similar Aug. 4 police report lists an arrested man's name, but does not include any details about his alleged crime. Police cited him with disorderly conduct intoxicated in the 1400 block of Catawba Ave at about 11:30 p.m.

An Aug. 5 report of a crime also occurring on Catawba Avenue simply states police arrested a man at a bar at about 2:10 a.m. It does not include the offender's name or criminal charges.

Many Put-in-Bay police reports containing incomplete information pertained to serious crimes, including assaults and domestic violence. Some victims required transportation off South Bass Island in medical helicopters for treatment at mainland hospitals.

Chief Lampela, village law director George Wilber and Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan did not respond to inquiries about how and when the Put-in-Bay police department was instructed to adopt the improper crime reporting methods. 

Wilber generally does not comment on public matters or respond to inquiries from the public and the media. It appears he is improperly ignoring the Register's public records request for specific public records about the instructions the police department was given prior to the implementation of the improper changes in the way police officers report crime. 

The changes come as Wilber, Lampela and PIB Mayor Margaret Scarpelli have ignored complaints from the Put-in-Bay Resort of a years-long harassment campaign from the police department, including the alleged false arrests of three employees nearly a year ago. The arrests were captured on video and appear to show the officer committing numerous civil rights violation. 

Note: This story modifies a previous version, which incorrectly referenced the Put-in-Bay police public information officer.

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