Update: Sandusky County employee suspended after assault

Sheriff's office releases documents.
Jessica Cuffman
Apr 26, 2013

A Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office employee is on paid administrative leave after allegedly assaulting a co-worker.

Update: The sheriff's office released the documents earlier today. Click here to read them. Warning: Some of the language in the documents might be offensive to some.  

The male employee, accused of assaulting a female employee, was placed on leave last week pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Chief Deputy Bruce Hirt said.

Hirt refused to identify the employee or release any further information about the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Register has submitted public records requests to Sheriff Kyle Overmyer for more information on the incident. In an email response, Overmyer said he had sent the request to Maj. Tom Fligor, jail administrator, for fulfillment.

State law requires law enforcement agencies to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation. The law generally requires incident reports be made available upon request as a public record, and does not allow these reports to be withheld from release for the reasons Hirt stated.

Neither Hirt nor Overmyer offered any explanation for why the sheriff’s office is keeping the report secret, or a reason the requirement in state law is being ignored.

Comments

Matt Westerhold

The article specifically cites incident reports: "The law generally requires incident reports be made available upon request as a public record, and does not allow these reports to be withheld from release for the reasons Hirt stated."

As far as researching the ORC, you can start here. You have to read each section and each section that relates to it carefully to follow the connections. You should consult legal counsel as appropriate. You might also get a copy of attorney Dave Marburger's book, "Access with Attitude, An Advocate's Guide to Freedom of Information in Ohio." Check this book out here.

John Harville

MATT MATT MATT. You're talking to a bunch of amateur 'legal savants' who don't know how many different ORC and OAC sections apply to virtually every issue. (How many even know what the OAC is?).
It's good of you to inform others who don't know everything.
It's general knowledge that initial reports/actions MUST be made available - in ANY case - and that no further information MUST be forthcoming while an investigation is active.
Even Kyle knew he had to release it.

nobodyfromnowhere

John, the SR made a direct statement that, "State law requires law enforcement agencies to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation." I have never heard of such a law and do not think one exists. Asking Mr. Westerhold to provide the relevant law doesn't make me a "legal savant" but a critical reader simply asking for supporting reference. That he, nor you for that matter, has thus far not provided this, if it exists, supporting reference to a statement made in the SR article makes me believe that the statement is not true. If that is the situation then I have to wonder why the SR would print an untrue/unsupported statement? Is it simple incompetence, or worse yet an intentional bias? And also what other untrue/unsupported statements have they printed in other stories in the paper?

It's just more ...

Matt, you need to stop using your cat "Fluffy" (or whatever it's name is) as the Register's "legal counsel". The book you cite, by the way, is an excellent book - I suggest you actually read it sometime, especially Chapter 6 dealing with law enforcement investigatory records. If you read and understand it, maybe the Register could state the law correctly more often.

nobodyfromnowhere

Mr. Westerhold the article stated "State law requires law enforcement agencies to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation." Please provide the chapter, section and subsection of the Ohio Revised Code or Ohio Administrative Code that requires this. I am not aware of this requirement in state law and in fact it seems counter intuitive. (Gee mam'm we would love to start the investigation of kidnapping of your 4 year old son, but prior to starting the investigation I have to file an incident report first. So you just sit tight and I will be right back as soon as I file the paperwork.) Sorry that doesn't happen in the real world, most often the investigation is started immediately before any paperwork is generated.

Matt Westerhold

As far as researching the ORC, you can start here. You have to read each section and each section that relates to it carefully to follow the connections. You should consult legal counsel as appropriate. You might also get a copy of attorney Dave Marburger's book, "Access with Attitude, An Advocate's Guide to Freedom of Information in Ohio." Check this book out here.

nobodyfromnowhere

Mr. Westerhold the link you provided is to section ORC Section 149.43 which had to do with the release of public records. No where does it even mention police "incident reports" nor is there any mention of a requirement that an incident report be filed prior to an investigate being initiated. Yes I have read that section several times. Again please provide the chapter, section, and subsection of the law that "requires a law enforcement agency to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation." If it exists I would like to know because I have never seen or heard of such a law.

It's just more ...

Matt, you need to stop using your cat "Fluffy" (or whatever it's name is) as the Register's "legal counsel". The book you cite, by the way, is an excellent book - I suggest you actually read it sometime, especially Chapter 6 dealing with law enforcement investigatory records. If you read and understand it, maybe the Register could state the law correctly more often.

John Harville

nobody. Never had much experience in law enforcement or reporting, huh? In the pseudo-kidnaping case you used as an example, the authorities have the responsibility to file the simple report... that a child is reported missing. How do you think we get Amber Alerts? It's not a lengthy process to make the initial report. Often the dispatcher logs it in from the initial call. State law DOES require it be logged. Names of Juveniles may be redacted.
usually the public sees 'news'... like a rescue helicopter circling an accident scene... it is a media service to report what actually happened. The dispatcher logs the incident. The reporter calls the dispatcher for information.

nobodyfromnowhere

Over 17 years in Law Enforcement, how many do you have? What you are describing as the "initial report", is a dispatch log entry, not an incident report. An incident report is completed by the responding officer and is more detailed. The information obtained for Amber Alerts is the result of investigation by officers. Amber Alerts are considered time sensitive and are often issued prior to the completion of an incident report and while officers are still on the scene gathering evidence and information. Also please provide the chapter, section, and subsection of the Ohio Revised Code or Ohio Administrative Code that requires the initial call be logged. Also if you are referring to the time limits and required entry into LEADS/NCIC of missing juveniles that has nothing to do with logging the initial call.

Hopefully you will do better than Mr. Westerhold who wasted my time with reading a section of law that did not even mention police "incident" reports let alone his supposed requirement that they be filed before an investigation begins.

nobodyfromnowhere

Still waiting...

Krissy3

Who cares? A male officer assaulted a female. You didn't think that would be in the news? Aren't police supposed to uphold the law?

It's just more ...

You'll be waiting a while, as Matt sometimes has problems answering the questions actually posed to him. But Heaven forbid if a public servant doesn't answer HIS questions right away - they'll find their picture on the front page with an article trashing them

yogi bear

I quoted and pointed incorrect information in the article about state law requiring a police report before an investigation is started. This is off topic? My account will probably be deleted now!!

Matt Westerhold

Perhaps not off-topic, but simply inaccurate.

The Sandusky County Sheriff's Office today complied with requirements in the Ohio Revised Code and released the initial incident report and the employee paid-leave notice the Register requested and stated they were required to release under the state's public records law.

The investigation is ongoing and documents developed since the initial incident report are not public record until the investigation is complete.

The Register's statements about incident reports being a public record and not subject to arbitrary withholding by officials are accurate and have been vetted through legal counsel. 

It's just more ...

Do you even read the article and posts before you respond? I'll say it more succinctly this time so maybe you will understand: What "State law requires law enforcement agencies to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation"? (an exact quote from the article). The posts by myself and Yogi said nothing of incident reports that have already been filed. Run that by your so-called "legal counsel."

yogi bear

Again I quote Ms. Cuffman:"State law requires law enforcement agencies to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation." This is the only thing I have pointed out as incorrect as there is no such state law requiring this. Mr. Westerhold I am well versed in the law and challenge you and/or your legal counsel to provide me the section number of the Ohio Revised Code covering what Ms. Cuffman is referring to in the above quote.

huronguy

People must be held accountable for their actions and if having your name in the paper stops people from doing dumb things then so be it!

fiddledee

Someone call the Waaaaaaaambulance! The SR didn't get what they requested when they requested it. You'd think that they would figure this thing out about how they seem to have no hesitation whatsoever in destroying someone's career, THEN getting the facts to print. They can't understand why departments aren't more cooperative when asked. Gee, after someone smacks me a gazillion times in the face, I get a little hesitant the next time I see them. It's not rocket science SR....you are getting the "good will" you are spreading. Herbie Hancock hit the nail on the head. Well said HH!

Matt Westerhold

Thanks fiddledee. You're kind of missing the point that public records rules are not subject to the whims of public officials, but you spelled waaaaaaaaambulance correctly. 

fiddledee

Matt, you missed the point that the SR's attitude and general lack of good will has, I believe, produced a hostile environment when it comes to these types of requests. Agencies do, indeed, have to make a reasonable effort to provide info from these requests. Their cooperation with the SR's requests and hesitancy, at times, to do so should be an indicator to you, as MANY others have pointed out. Agencies do NOT exists to give the SR information when it requests it. They exist to serve the public and these seeming "endless" requests constantly put a strain on employees and the important work they have to do. I wonder how much these requests have cost the taxpayers over the years? Seriously doubt if the SR will do a story and analysis on that. Maybe the SR could simply provide the county at its expense information personnel to all the agencies they request info from so these agencies could continue to take care of the people who elected them.

milemarkerzero

I'm sure these department heads are fully aware of the Sunshine Law. Also agree that honey attracts the most flies. Not alot of honey comes out of the SR when dealing with the police.

John Harville

ZERO There's a whole lot more than the Sunshine Law at work here.
And the 'honey' thing works both ways - like when Law Enforcement seeks media assistance in getting information out.
So Law Enforcement is 'flies'? Talk about disrespect.
The Sunshine Law is non-existent in the naming of 'saving paper'. Clyde-Green Springs Board of Education (and others) now have notepads and get all their 'paperwork' on-line, enabling them to have discussions and 'meetings' outside the public view.

Richard Bebb

Why does it seem like we go over this every other week? When the investigation is complete they will release the report. If there is an ongoing investigation they don't have to tell you jack, no matter how many times you run an article complaining that they do.

Matt Westerhold

The Sandusky County Sheriff's Office today complied with requirements in the Ohio Revised Code and released the initial incident report and the employee paid-leave notice the Register requested and stated they were required to release under the state's public records law.

The investigation is ongoing and documents developed since the initial incident report are not public record until the investigation is complete.

The Register's statements about incident reports being a public record and not subject to arbitrary withholding by officials are accurate and have been vetted through legal counsel.

Kilroy

Well Matt it looks like they are able to comply with one law in Sandusky County. Now they just need to do something about the rest, that they seem so intent on not obeying.

Krissy3

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Everyone files a police report when an "incident" happens. It is public record. The report written by police is called an investigative report. I'm looking at one right now!

four

Why does Mr. Westerhold have a agenda against law enforcement?

luvblues2

That will not fly, four. Give up the ghost. You lose.

Ithink

Why does law enforcement staff keep doing newsworthy stuff?

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