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

tk

Sandusky County!!! You surely must be joking. Would they do something like this? (and before I get jumped all over I am the one who is joking.)

freedom12

I just wonder why the Sandusky Register is so interested in Sandusky County instead of Erie County? Why does Mr. Westerhold have a agenda against law enforcement? When is the Register going to become a newspaper instead of the National Enquirer?

sandtown born a...

Maybe when sandusky county corrupt officials start following the laws they swore to uphold

MsQuarderbitty

Because Sandusky County doesn't have a newspaper worth wrapping fish in.

John Harville

Amen. One correction... 'doesn't have a newspaper' is sufficient.

007

gee, let's see, they have had a live sex show with officers watching, botched investigation with Jake, and now assault on a female employee. Then forbid the incident report. I think it's about time the AG comes to Fremont and start removing the corrupt trash that is supposed to be the so called law enforcement in Sandusky County!!

John Harville

You mean Overmyer County

MiddleRight

CITIZENS OF SANDUSKY COUNTY - VOTE THESE PEOPLE OUT!

John Harville

Need a Democrat party to do that...

freedom12

I just wish the Sandusky Register would stop spreading hate and destroying careers in their effort to promote a anti law enforcement pro criminal Ohio!

sandtown born a...

You must be neck deep in the crap with your comments

chopperpilot

I would keep the EVERY incident private from the Register & Reflector. The ONLY reason they want the info is so they can drag these people through the mud. I just saw on tv where a newspaper reporter is the #1 ranked worse job.... guess you get what you pay for; look at the rubbish that is being printed! Get a life staff.. and a real job!

tk

The SR doesn't drag these people through the mud. These people jump in with both feet.

concernedmom81

well said tk!!!! They made their bed so they must lie in it.

dontknowmuch

When people do stupid stuff and the end result is a police report, there's a good chance said stupid incident will wind up in the newspaper.

John Harville

chopper... exactly how many portions of the Constitution would you like to get rid of?

BTW... there are no newspaper reporters these days. There once were journalists but they are gone. Newspapers don't support their 'press secretaries'.

herbie_hancock

I am not defending anyone if they did assault a coworker, cop or not, if they did it then they deserve to get prosecuted just like anyone else. But why don't you wait until you have all the facts and THEN write one story instead of running a new story every time you get a little bit of information that's what journalism is isn't it?...getting the facts THEN reporting on them. The SR is so quick to fly off the handle whenever someone doesn't do what they ask RIGHT AWAY, they are treating their paper like a bathroom stall wall, putting up pictures and painting people in a bad light whenever they don't comply. And they wonder why no one will give out any information to them when they ask for it...you catch more flies with honey, sunshine law or not. If the sunshine law was really enforced we would hear about agencies getting sued all the time, truth is no one is afraid of getting sued for not handing over a public records EXACTLY when its requested. We ALL know by now that media has the right to request public records, because you write it at the bottom of every story.

chopperpilot

Because they want to be the FIRST to report. Apparently they get bonus points for reporting first. Whether the info was accurate or not - in example, the article posted about the wreck on Rt 2. Says Rt 2 was closed so LifeFlight could land, but then said the chic was flown from Magruder. My 9 year-old can write details better than this, and he even picked up on the error too.

007

@ chopperpilot:
I was there yesterday as the first vehicle before entering the bridge. I also have a scanner in my vehicle and watched and listened to Lifeflight for over 35 minutes trying to land on the crest of the bridge where the accident happened. He couldn't land because of the high winds. I watched him circle with landing gear down for over 35 minutes and finally they decided when the person was removed from the vehicle to transport to Magruder Hosp.

chopperpilot

@ 007:
Are you one of those people who are so obscessed with fires and wrecks that you chase and follow the fire trucks, then listen on ur scanner? I mean, who drives around with a scanner in their truck? Wierdo.

dontknowmuch

So one is called a weirdo when they explained what they heard over the scanner? Hmmmm

luvblues2

chopperpilot never listens to the radio.

007

I was on my way to Port Clinton when the accident happened you remedial dolt!!

John Harville

Herbie... "that's what journalism is, getting the facts THEN reporting it"
Not quite. Journalism is getting the facts, asking the questions, probing public records for supporting information. Example: do you wait to report there were two bombs exploded in Boston UNTIL you know who did it? Do you report what you see - people being put in ambulances, bodies under tarps - or just wait for 10,000 Tweeters to tweet all sorts of misinformation? It IS a fact, in any story, if someone is withholding information that is a matter of public record.

yogi bear

"State law requires law enforcement agencies to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation." There is no state law that requires this.

It's just more ...

You are absolutely correct Yogi. But Heaven forbid if you try to tell the Register's almighty managing editor what the law is because he thinks he is an expert.

Krissy3

You mean you don't have to file a police report for the police to launch an investigation?

It's just more ...

"Off-topic" ?!?!? Yogi just quoted the statement in the article itself where you say "State law requires law enforcement agencies to file an incident report prior to starting an investigation," and correctly pointed out that no such law exists. How in the world was that "Off-topic"?

Matt Westerhold

Thanks It's just more and others who questioned statements in this article about public records.

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. And Matt, you're not fooling anyone, besides your lemmings, regarding vetting anything through legal counsel. Any first year law student can read the statutes and case law regarding public records in Ohio and see that the Register has made numerous misstatements of law in articles on the subject.

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?

yogi bear

maybe he wanted to be a cop but failed the application process!

nobodyfromnowhere

In the article it is stated "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." Then in the next paragraph it states "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."

Which is it? Either Hirt gave a reason that the Register thinks is insufficient or he didn't give one at all. It can't be both, as you are claiming in the article. It's things like these that erode peoples confidence in the press in general and the Register in particular. If the SR can't get something this simple right what else are they not getting right?

Matt Westerhold

Thanks nobodyfromnowhere. Also cited in the article was Hirt's response there was no report available because there was an ongoing investigation. It seems obvious that was not accurate to the requirements regarding incident reports given the incident report is dated April 19.

If the Register had not asked for it, the documentation likely would never have seen the light of day. The SR staff asserted their rights as members of the public and the sheriff's office complied. Any member of the public has equal rights to do the same.

I'm not sure what your concern might be beyond that as your statements are a bit inaccurate.  Given the name you've chosen to use, it also seems a bit silly I'm offering a response to your comments. 

nobodyfromnowhere

So then what you are stating is that the reason given was that there was an on going investigation? So you are saying that Hirt did give a reason and that the SR did not agree with it. Then that makes the last paragraph where the SR states that neither Hirt or Overmyer "offered any explanation for why the sheriff's office is keeping the report secret" is false. Hirt gave a reason you just didn't agree with it, but he still gave a reason.
My concern is that in the article the SR has made 2 false statements the first about state law and filing of incident reports and the second being the last paragraph. My concern is what other information being printed in the SR is false and why?
If you don't like my questions and comments so be it. I will continue to comment on what I read and continue to question, often pointedly, what appears to be incorrect in the articles of the SR and many times these questions will probably be directed at you as the editor, but you will always have the opportunity to respond.
I find your last sentence rather condensending. It is rather telling that you find it "silly" that you are responding to my comments because of my screen name. I believe that I have been respectful and polite towards you in all my comments and questions and had expected the same from you. It appears I expected too much. As for my screen name it comes from the song "Nobody From Nowhere" by Jimmy Buffet. You can find the lyrics at metro lyrics.com. It kinda describes quite a bit of Erie County and I mean that in a good way.

herbie_hancock

+1, aaaaand no rebuttal after that one.

Kmf1984

Is it not ok that they gather more information before making everything public??

tonto

The Sheriff is the youngest sheriff in the state and it shows. He doesn't know what to due with all his buddies in the department. He got the job after that last Sheriff died. The last sheriff carried him threw his very short law enforcement career. He should of stayed in the lower ranks of the department until he was seasoned enough to take over. Look at his ranking. I mean a sgt within 2-3 yrs. cpt. 2 yrs. no one makes rank that fast, unless your the golden child under the old sheriff.

John Harville

Father 'smokey' is a veteran deputy.
Brother is a deputy.
Former brotherinlaw is deputy.
Sister is Clerk of Courts.
Mother(?) and sister(?) clerk and councilmember in Lindsey(?)

Simple Enough II

I don't think it is so much a case of nepotism so much as most folks don't go through cop schools as there are limited opportunities as compared to a degree in electrical or such. Also think about a jailer is a nursemaid for some pretty stupid people, not sure I would want to do it. Along with that most departments are small and so you get stuck with sometimes some pretty crappy co-workers along with the typical megalomaniacs, drama queens and Rod Farvas! There are some really good folks out there in LE, just seem to hear more about the DB's.

John Harville

In another city where I lived, many of the cops had been juvenile thugs quite familiar with police opertions.... lol

luvblues2

Just read the full story in today's Register and was astounded. That dept. has some serious issues.

Ithink

Why is it that everyone seems to be bashing the news reporter and yet has no qualms about what the cop did? You have it backwards, people. A reporter tell the public what information they have gathered--so it's not complete yet, so what? You people are directing your anger at the messenger, instead of the offender. No wonder America is in the shape it is--there seems to be a bunch of idiots here.

herbie_hancock

Ithink, No one said anything about how the county employee should get off. To the contrary we have said that if they broke the law then they should be punished just like everyone else. It is not the employee we have a problem with. Its the fact that the SR flies off the handle whenever he/they don't get their way (right at that exact moment, much like my 2yo). They can print whatever he/they want and hope no one knows any different, yet when we call him/them out on it he/they can't give us a straight answer. His professionalism, or lack there of, is demonstrated throughout this forum. I've had a couple folks tell me about phone calls from him and his staff requesting public information, when the official can't get the information to him quick enough or are told to hold off on giving it to him he flies off the handle and resorts to profanity, name calling and legal threats. But why would we ever hear about that side of the story? Its funny that someone can write personal attacks, insensitivity or presumption of guilt in this forum and get deleted/suspended (or not depending on who its directed towards), yet he can hint at the lack of someones intellect based solely on a screen name and...nothing happens. We form our opinions of him based on the way he conducts himself and the way our local officials tell us he conducts himself, not based on his choice of screen name. This is a small town, if you destroy your repore with your local officials NO ONE will go out of their way to help you, something the SR is learning, or NOT learning.

Ithink

So some people think Westerhold's an arrogant man--he's in the right profession. Spend a day with a NY Times reporter and see how nicely you get treated. Yes, this is a small town, but do you know how many professions employ arrogant a$$es? Most of them are in the legal system or the 'white collar' jobs...just saying my opinion. I just think this blog should get back to the original topic of the story.

herbie_hancock

In no way does the word arrogant fit the definition I just gave, neither is it acceptable in any profession to be arrogant (except maybe an army leuitenent). There are reasons no one likes reporters/media, this article and his track record are examples.

Ithink

I agree. I'm on your side about this. NOW- let's move this blog forward and talk about the actual article concerning this officer who allegedly assaulted a co-worker. Talk about arrogance....

Ithink

*tells

freedom12

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

luvblues2

When the cops quit breaking the laws they are supposed to uphold? I don't see hate or lies from the SR. I do see it from Sandusky Co., though.

I can't imagine someone complaining so much about what the paper does unless they might possibly be part of the corruption in some way.

Jmschmidt812

I don't know what it seems like to anyone else, but it seems like the " reporter " , and I use that term loosely, is anti-law enforcement. If he wasn't then why not every once in awhile do a story on how a local law enforcement agency has contributed something positive to society. I say local but you can also include Sandusky county since you seem to be so focused on the law enforcement there. How about sorting threw some police reports showing how police saved a life, or rescued a child from some sort of danger. It would be nice to see you put law enforcement in a positive light, ANY agency will do. People get a negative perspective of all law enforcement when all they read about is your continuing attack on law enforcement. And for those of you that do complain about the SCSO for what you deem as mistakes or corruption and label the entire office that way are sadly mistaken. That would be like someone reading the paper and seeing your employer was arrested or charged with drug charges and a bunch of people calling the entire workforce drug addicts.

Ithink

That would be great if LE did something positive. People don't want to read about the cop that saved a cat from a tree. And if you read through the Daily Log you could see what LE does do. SR doesn't have to print that stuff, but they do--and it tells about when police go to a house where a kid doesn't want to go to school- they show up and make the kid go. There's positivity right there.

Ithink

That would be great if LE did something positive. People don't want to read about the cop that saved a cat from a tree. And if you read through the Daily Log you could see what LE does do. SR doesn't have to print that stuff, but they do--and it tells about when police go to a house where a kid doesn't want to go to school- they show up and make the kid go. There's positivity right there.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Jmschmidt812. I'm not clear why you might need to use the word 'reporter' loosely, but here are a couple of stories published last week that loosely fit your 'positive' news description.

These stories are not absent from the newspaper; they just don't get the same level of attention from readers even though they too are displayed on the front page. 

Link Man reunited with motorized scooter 

Link Police officers rescue man and dog

It's just more ...

Some commentators use the word "reporter" loosely; some newspapers apply the concept of "journalistic integrity" loosely.

John Harville

... IF SC LE ever did anything positive...