Perkins police offended by candidate's 'Rambo' comment in online Q&A hosted by Register
A Perkins Township trustee candidate touched off a firestorm Thursday night when he referred to township police officers playing "Rambo in their SUVs."
"I want officers patrolling our neighborhoods with our kids, keeping our streets safe," candidate Don Bass responded during Q&A Live, aSandusky Register-sponsored Internet debate that featuredquestions from residents.
Police Sgt. Dan McLaughlin said he grew up in the township and has lived there all his life.
"In my 25 years with thedepartment I don't remember a more insulting comment from a politician or an aspiringpolitician," McLaughlin said.
"It was insulting to me, to my fellow officers and our families."
McLaughlin, who works the juvenile division in the police department, said he was particularly bothered by Bass's comments about youngsters.
"We put our lives on the line and we're there when people need us. The comment was a a kick in the teeth," he said. "Our proactive approach works. We don't have gangs and high drug traffic areas. We care about kids."
Bass said he did not intend to offend police officers, and the comment was related to what he considers excessive spending within the police department.
"The city of Sandusky would not approve one SUV. Yet, the taxpayers in Perkins have afforded seven SUVs," Bass said. "I want officers on the street -- plain and simple. I think we've funded the wrong things in the Police Department. The trustees have done this. It's not (Chief McClung's) fault."
But McClung also took offense at the Rambo comment.
"Police officers do not see Rambo as a role model," McClung said. "Rambo is a gung-ho, shoot first, ask questions later type of guy. That's not who we are.
"Mr. Bass talks about being a good communicator and a people-person. I don't know that name calling is a good way to start off relations with a person or a township department. No police officer wants to be compared to Rambo."
Perkins police Detective Sgt. Al Jenkins said he was disappointed by the Rambo comments.
"I spoke with Mr. Bass and he told me he was pleased with the police department, but this makes it seem he wants to come in with an agenda," Jenkins said. "If he's elected he should come in with a clean slate and with his eyes open.
"We're not Rambos," Jenkins said. "Mr. Bass was either not truthful with me or he was not truthful during the Q&A."
Bass also chided the police department for not having, or following, "standardized policies and procedure manuals."
But McClung said the police department's written policies and procedures were authorized by the board of trustees in 2003, and are strictly followed.
Patrolman Brent Adams said Bass has not done his homework.
"We have policies and written procedures," Adams said. "We care about the residents and we police our neighborhoods, our streets and the businesses throughout the township. He obviously doesn't understand what we do and was trying to brand our department."
Adams said police officers are pro-active in the community.
"We don't sit back and wait. We're trying to stop crime before it does happen. Being proactive means you're doing your job."
Bass could have easily reviewed the written policies and procedures that already are in place in the department, Adams said.
Attaching his Rambo comments to the police department's use of SUVs was a cheap shot, Jenkins said.
"The department has used that type of vehicle for decades," he said.
One of Bass's opponents also took issue with the Rambo-SUV comments. Candidate Jerry Baumgardner said the police department needs certain things to do its job.
"I don't think (Mr. Bass) knows enough about the police department to make that evaluation," Baumgardner said.
Candidate Jeff Ferrell, however, said many residents have complained to him about spending in the township.
"Residents have brought to my attention that the amount of SUVs is a result of excessive spending from the board of trustees," Ferrell said.
McClung said SUVs retain a greater resale value than standard cruisers and are effective law enforcement tools.