Police brass worry about officer safety following St. Patty's Day incident

Sandusky police Lt. John Orzech said the past couple of weeks haven't been easy.
Emil Whitis
Apr 13, 2012

 

Sandusky police Lt. John Orzech said the past couple of weeks haven’t been easy.

He’s become increasingly worried about patrol officer safety — to the point he’s had trouble sleeping.

With the term racial profiling and the name Trayvon Martin being chanted almost daily by groups protesting the killing of a black teenager in Florida — and the media coverage of it — his department was recently accused of arresting two black men based on race.

But Orzech is confident that assessment is inaccurate.

The on-duty officers who responded to an incident involving an off-duty officer were spot on and professional when they stopped two black men walking along Columbus Avenue on Feb. 18, and their actions had nothing to do with race. 

They had everything to do with protecting the community and themselves from being shot.  

“I don’t want (SPD officers) to be second-guessing themselves when they have to make split-second decisions with limited information,” Orzech said. “In Sandusky, officers don’t have a lot of time to think about what their next course of action is going to be. They’re usually only a matter of blocks from the scene.”

He said he’s worried patrol officers, in a conscious effort to be politically correct, might hesitate in the line of duty. Second-guessing, he said, could lead to dangerous situations and the possibility of another officer being shot.

Orzech said he’s also worried about the perception some residents might have of the  police department.

“One of my concerns is officer safety, and the other is leaving a racial issue lingering out there in the community,” Orzech said. “I don’t believe that’s what happened, and (the subject is) volatile because of the Trayvon Martin incident.” 

Just after midnight, while revelers were still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day downtown, officers raced to Washington Street and Columbus Avenue. A black man allegedly pulled a gun on off-duty Sandusky police Officer Jody Showalter. 

Showalter, who resigned three days after the incident, allegedly got into several scuffles and had words with the man moments before having the gun pulled on him. A Perkins police officer, who was with Showalter, and another black man who was with the man who pulled the gun, diffused the situation.

Showalter called SPD dispatch and reported the incident, describing two suspects as black males walking south on Columbus Avenue near Adams Street. That information was relayed by a  dispatcher to officers en route. About a minute later officers spotted two black men near Columbus Avenue and Madison Street — just two blocks away and less than two minutes after the gun was pulled.

Officers stopped, pulled their weapons and ordered the two men to the ground. They handcuffed and searched both men but failed to find a gun. The officers apologized to the men, removed the handcuffs and sent them on their way, according to a police report.

The entire incident was recorded by a cruiser camera.    

Orzech said he’s reviewed the video carefully, and the officers were professional and correct in stopping the men.

“They did an excellent job,” he said. “They explained what was going on.  The two individuals understood, and they moved on from there.”

But some residents believe it was a race-based stop, and that misconception has stirred anti-police sentiment, Orzech said.

“We don’t want people to be inflamed thinking that race was an issue,” Orzech said. “It shouldn’t be a black and white issue because in this particular situation it wasn’t.”  

The officers didn’t just stop two random black men on the street, they stopped two black men who were two blocks from a crime scene less than two minutes from when it happened. There was no racial profiling there, Orzech said. 

“They handled that call just like they would any other weapons complaint.”

Comments

concernedtruth

 I am so sick and tired of people pulling "The Race Card", everytime something happens to someone of their race and rather than look at the positive outcome in this case, no one was hurt, no one was arrested falsely, no one was killed or beaten, they want to blame the same people who are keeping the streets of Sandusky safe. Get off your racist attitude and start being a positive part of society and that includes raising your children to respect law enforcement and doing what they tell you when you are pulled over or ordered to STOP. Yes, there may be some individuals who do not have the best interest at heart when stopping someone, however our law enforcement have to make as the statement above reads, "Split Second Decisions" for their own safety and the safety of those in the city. Get off the band wagon of racism and start being a positive role model for our youth as to respecting those in authority and respecting the badge. 

Browndog271

I agree,  if you have nothing to hide,  you do not have to worry.  Be a good citizen and act appropriate.

Sit n Spin

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal attacks and libelous or defamatory statements. Discussion Guidelines

DickTracey

I am not a real detective, I just play one on TV.

So I am really confused, as to why this officer, did not get these guys names and addresses or take them to the scene of the crime to be ID'd.

They fit Jody's description to a tee, and they were in the exact same place where he said they would be.

Also, I did not see the officer or any other officer "scouring the area" for the gun.

Because obviously, if someone had just pulled a gun on two off duty cops, and 30 seconds later there are sirens coming in every direction, they would ditch the gun in a bush immediately. DUH.

Tru Grit

DickTracey, I got to agree with you on that one buddy. Why didn't they look around, why didn't they take them to Ol' Joday... I am going to assume that like I did before the problem started and stopped with Joday.. He probably lied about aq gun being pulled and he probably called them black men a "N".

The cops have a tough job, a lot of them are absolutely great and some are just rotten, its sad that a whole department get looked upon as a joke because of a couple of morons who somehow got into law enforcment and even crazier they actually got a job..

 

Why does it seem that O'l Detective Orzech using excuse after excuse after excuse for everything. Does anyone have integrity and thr guts to be honest..

lugnut2511

I think he did a good clean stop. When there's other stuff going down that might be a gun involved petty warrants if any would have to take a back seat to that. I would think if they had felony warrants and it were one cop, they would of bolted. These two seemed  pretty understanding when the officer explained things. I think since this kid got shot in florida, everyone is playing the race card, which is a bnch of BS! Good stop in m eyes

FruGalSpender

people people people! settle down! what if the suspects were white in the showwalter case? would every white male be ordered to stop? some people say all black people look alike. do black people say the same about white people? what if the suspect or suspects wore a certain hat, and acted a certain way? how about if the suspect had a limp or walked a certain way? when describing a suspect, one must be very thorough. features like race, clothing worn, age such as elderly or young, height, skinny or fatty, limping, certain type of walk, shoes, pants, hat, build. what is wrong with people when they generalize a suspect? here is some education for you people. get down people, get down to the facts. what if the suspect looked like this one who got by the authorities? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu1TZVX72Aw  look at that man with the radio to his ear. look at the way he walks and his mannerisms. get a clue people.

deertracker

Say what you will but in this case the cops were in the wrong.  The on duty cops acted appropriately and so did the black guys.  This all began because a cop was drunk and grieving.  You can't just harrass any black person because a particular black person killed your friend.  The guy that did it is in jail so let the system take it from there.  This fear for officer safety is crap.  They are the ones with the gun and badge.  Black guys are not roaming the streets looking to hurt cops or vice versa.  This situation was handled exactly the way it was suppose to be except for the fact that they could have had Jody identify the guys if they were the right ones.  I think Jody made it up and his buddies backed him up.  There was no disrespect and the black guys complied so may I suggest they were raised to respect authority and the badge.   This incident ws not race based but it was racial.  He targeted black people that night. That is how race got in the mix.  Some on here have NO objectivity when it comes to race.  

 

sandusky2012

i say its racial discrimination sue then thats all i have to say

sanduskysteve

The policemen who stopped the black guys did nothing wrong and the video proves it.  The black guys were totally compliant - I'm not sure there should be an issue here is there?  The issue if there is one is with Showalter.  That can't be blamed on SPD,  he was off duty and he did the right thing as well after the fact by quitting.  End of story.

Man of the Republic

If you think this is anything but a clean stop, you're out of your mind. Yeah, if the situation was reversed and there was a white male who pulled a gun on a black cop, and the cops found two white males walking away from the scene after, then I would think they would be stopped. The cops would have been crazy not to stop them. Race doesn't have a damn thing to do with it, safety is safety.

LabMan

Man of Republic has it nailed!

Molon Labe

 This article is BS! They report half truths! Emil needs to go back to school and learn how to be a real reporter! Leave Showalter alone!

Kottage Kat

The SPD should have been worried about their safety starting  3/20/2011.     Kat

BEHAPPY

The "Race Card" is so old it is beyond the point of n-a-u-s-e-a-t-i-n-g.   Cry the race card EVERYtime about EVERYthing just to get your way.   Well, it's beyond old.    If myself or anyone that I know does not act human, you suffer the consequences, pure and simple.   Stay safe out there SPD.   Good luck and GOD bless to each and everyone of you.    Too bad for all of us that they just can't think logically.   It's just not going to happen,  I just cannot comprehend their thinking.

BEHAPPY

I just watched the video,  officer acted very professional in my eyes!    I'll tell you,  watching that video gave me the creeps.   I sure would not want to do their job.   This town has gotten so bad I do not feel safe out there after dark at all anymore and they have to walk up to people without knowing what they are going to do all night long.  Daylight is just as bad.   How frightening, how sad.

snatchblock_445

when I was about 17 or 18 a couple of my white friends did something and took off running, at the same time I was on my way home from another friend's house, and not knowing what they did, I had a police officer pull up behind me, got out and ordered me to get down on the ground AT GUN POINT!!, so don't say that the police don't stop white people for committing crimes,i'm sure when they got the call they weren't looking for a black man.for them to pull a gun on me and order me to the ground at gunpoint wasn't because I was J-walking, when someone gets  stopped by the police it's for a reason weather you did it or not. If they get a call about 3 white guys or 3 black guys that just robbed someone, and it just so happens that 3 white guys or 3 black guys are seen walking down the street near the scene of the crime, you are going to get stopped, and they might think they are getting stopped because the officer has nothing better to do....I go for walks all the time, and if i'm passed  by a police officer I notice he will go around the block and come back....I know what he's doing, I don't say anything because there is no need for me to do so, they have even stopped and asked where I was going...I tell them and go on my merry way..they are doing their job. these guys that have it in their heads that the police are profiling them because of there color have about as much common sence at kindergardener...as many times as i've been stopped by the police I should think I invented the words  racial profiling

R U Serious

   The one thing that stood out to me was the discription he gave the 911 opperator more than once and it was the same every time she asked him what they were wearing. That being said if the 2 black men walking down the street fit the discription by the hat or red and black out fit the guy was wearing they should have been stopped not because they were black.  The tape clearly gave a discription so if they fit the discription and didn't have a gun it most likely would have been tossed on a roof or sewer. No I'm not a CSI fan but it wouldn't be the first time a weapon or conntraban was tossed. You have to listen to the tape the Register released and wonder why if you can hear the discription of the 2 individules why wasn't that the first step. The cops in this town have enough to deal with....the race crap is everyones problem.

Fireside

Something smells fishy with this whole chain of events. And I ain't talking about being 3 blocks from the bay either.....

 

deertracker

Hey Snatch

You were PROFILED!  Everyone fits into a profile.  It's how crimes are solved!  You can simply resemble someone they are looking for!  No harm no foul really if you are doing the right thing!

Super Judge

The cops only as have as much power as we allowe them to have.

Lightening McQueen

 I would not be shocked if Showalter quit because he knew he was in big trouble for lying about the men brandishing a gun. It all adds up. I don't think that we can be mad at police following up on his report and giving him extra credibility, but at the same time we have to hold the SPD liable for hiring an out of control-car-wrecking-idiot who is a great big simpering wuss for not being able to get over the fact his buddy got killed. 

Lightening McQueen

 If anyone criticizes me or makes fun of my viewpoint I will post a response completely peppered with obscenities. I have the power to do that and I will. Think how foolish you will feel if I answer you with a post full of the "F-word". I can do this. I have done this before and will do it again at the drop of a hat and it will be your fault that there is profanity on this web page.

JohnDorian12

So ANY time a Police Officer stops a black person now, REGARDLESS of the circumstances, its a "race" issue????  What a joke!!! I can see if the description was 2 white males and the officers stopped two black males, but the only description given, was two black males in the area of Columbus Ave/ Adams Street, what did you want them to do???  If they had driven by them and these were in fact the ones involved, then you would be screaming that they failed to do their jobs. If they would have just got out of the cruiser to talk to them and they didnt have their guns drawn, when one of these guys could have had the gun, then it would be Officer Dunn all over again!!!  The officers were as courteous as they could be, given the alledged incident. I guess the NAACP need to be heard again, so they are partnering with this joke of a paper, to gang up on the SPD.  Problem is, any half-way intelligent person knows the Register is nothing more than a tabloid and the NAACP, well they are almost as big a joke as the SR.  They both have brought this on themselves, by bringing stuff like this up.  And am I supposed to believe that since Ofc. Showalter got a little out of hand, that he somehow DESERVED to have a gun pulled on him??? Because that is the messsage I am getting from this article.  I say, if something bad happens to one of these officers again, their family should sue the Register for inciting this rage.  SPD has had their share of incidents this past month or so, which tells me something I have always known, Police Officers are human beings, just like you and I.  These officers have wives and children just like you and I, so if I were them, I would take every precaution to go home at the end of the night too. Lets not forget that even with all the evil that is in that city now, the police have kept their composure, but according to my records, the criminal element is up 1-0 on the police (RIP Ofc. Dnn). Even after all the horror each officer had to endure in losing one of their own, there have been no incidents of Police Brutality, well I should say no PROVEN incidents of Police Brutality. 

 Bottom line is, I hope the officers dont read this stuff, because no matter what they do or how they do it, they are going to be accused of being racists.  So I hope and pray they continue to keep that city safe.

JohnDorian12

@ McQueen

What?? Showalter is having problems letting go of an incident in which his friend was murdered???  Uhm...yea that is so uncommon!! I have neices that goto that joke of a school, Adams Jr. High, who thought the world of Ofc. Showalter.  So your ignorant (YES I SAID IGNORANT) post is just another rant by someone who doesnt like cops because you or someone you know was "wrongfully accused" by those over paid civil servants right??  Oh and PLEASE dont use the "F" word on me, because I have NEVER heard that word before......lol.....you are a joke!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

wiredmama222

Ok, lightening McQueen......I hereby make fun of your viewpoint just to see you pepper the answer with the F word to see you get past the obscenity screen.   If you can it will be the FIRST time I have ever seen anyone do it.   LOL. 

But seriously, Is this article here because of the "letter" from the NAACP?  Is this the answer that they wanted to here?  Or what is this for?  Its sure is a round about way of saying that the SPD did right by the two men that night and that the SPD did nothing wrong.  That they have PROOF that it was handled properly and that they want no trouble?   Just saying. 

FruGalSpender

don't make remarks about the naacp or you will get your comment removed like mine was. you can mention naacp but you cannot say anything about hancock street or the drug and shooting problems there. the naacp libels and slanders the sandusky police department quite often. http://www.sanduskyregister.com/news/4play41212ewxml  "what does it matter when you can go to "HANCOCK" street in sandusky and buy as much crack cocaine as you want from over 30 different dealers ?."   i simply replied to didhejustsaythat76's comment about hancock. no libel or personal attacks on my part. there is a reason why the police look the other way most of the time concerning hancock and if i mention the reason, my comments will be deleted again. some people cannot handle the truth.

wiredmama222

@ frugal.....I see they didn't remove them this time.  (sometimes I think they get a little excited about what goes and what stays. )  '

What happened to lightening mcqueens load of F words? .  Darn I am disappointed. 

Kottage Kat

Lightning McQueen,  Please do not subject the rest of us to your lack of vocabulary. Those of us with above average intelligence and with a greater use of the English language are able to verbalize with out the use of profanity.

Sir, your idle threats are a "moot" point as it seems though you have failed to notice, this is a column for others to express their comments and opinions. One does not always have to agree, for myself, I will respect their right to do so within reason (of which you seem to have little).

Please purchase a dictionary, it has lots of words in in that you can use to show your displease with other folks, and maybe just maybe some intelligence and maturity on your behalf.

I will adhere to the premice that Jodie resigned as to not further the "black-eye", that has already be given the SPD. It shows maturity and integrity, although others will disagree, and I respect their right to do so.

The "bowing" of the administration of the SPD to the NAACP, is like giving in to a petulent child everytime they whine they want something. Asking Jim Lang to stand up and  support his officers is WAY to much to ask. By not doing so,is just giving them the power that they think they deserve, and needs to be "nipped in the bud" so to speak.  Why should they be special or get special favors based on race alone, and what seems to be for no other reason.

I am not a racist, enough is enough, and it is time for the people of Sandusky to take their city back, and I hope that they will want to.     Thank you           Kat

2083 FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS.

slaminstupidpeople

Wow so I take it when the police came back 10 minutes later to look at the scene they didn’t find whatever the men had thrown in the plant next to the brick building. I think it is funny how the police would look for and respond to the scene with so many officers when it involves another officer. But when I call the police because my car keeps getting broken into and we caught them on camera.  We then gave the video to the police and still haven’t heard anything from them. Crazy what this town is coming to. I think it is funny how people jump to the race thing when the men threw something into the bush and I know the police must have thought about it because they came back to look just a little too late. Crazy how they don’t tell all details in an article. After they let the men go and walk away as soon as the cop took the corner the men came back to the bush to get whatever they threw. I thought in the video the cops asked if they had anything on them but the men said no. Oh but wait because they already threw it in the bush. Funny how people jump to the race thing.