Lampela addresses community

Spirited dialogue between police chief, residents as Lampela reinstates weekly meetings
Alex Green
Jul 25, 2014

Frustrations, outrage and a scattering of compliments filled the Put-in-Bay town hall during a public meeting hosted by Put-in-Bay police Chief Ric Lampela.

He said a meeting used to be held weekly for islanders to voice concerns but people stopped attending.

So Lampela said he held Thursday's meeting due to growing complaints in the community, and will resume doing so.

"This is an island event. Islanders can come to me, share compliments or complaints and what they're seeing, so I can fix problems with the department," Lampela said.

A myriad of topics were brought up during an emotional two-plus hours, though Lampela still declined to comment on the controversial arrests of three Put-in-Bay Resort employees.

Put-in-Bay Resort employee arrests

"I'm not going to comment on cases that haven't been adjudicated," Lampela said.

Resort owner Mark Mathys and Scott Bellinger, former police chief of Munroe Falls and current police academy instructor with years of experience, replied passionately.

"It's adjudicated," Mathys and Bellinger said in unison.

Three resort employees were arrested last September while working.

The general manager was arrested when she did not immediately hand over golf cart vendor contracts when police were investigating an illegally parked golf cart.

Two desk employees were arrested for obstruction when they would not talk with officers about the termination of an employee that was unrelated to them.

One set of charges has been dropped, while the other two cases are still being reviewed by Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan.

Still, Lampela did not comment on the dismissed case.

"So let's talk about generalities," one man said. "Why would someone ever be arrested over a paycheck?"

"I'm not sure they would," Lampela said.

He also suggested Bellinger, who was vocal during the meeting, did not know all the details of the case.

"I have actually viewed the tape," Bellinger said, implying Lampela hasn't.

Mathys says neither Lampela nor Put-in-Bay Mayor Margaret Scarpelli have viewed any of the resort's video or audio from the arrests, even though Scarpelli said she took over the investigation about nine months ago.

Handcuffing of Dennis Rectenwald

Lampela scoffed at the notion that his officers were too authoritative when they handcuffed Dennis Rectenwald, a longtime former area superintendent, over a traffic violation.

Rectenwald allegedly rolled a stop sign and exited his vehicle on his own property with his hands raised, according to several witnesses.

"To think that our police department is out of control over (a traffic citation)?" Lampela said.

"The problem is you handcuffed an individual for rolling a stop sign," Bellinger said.

The two officers went back-and-forth about whether handcuffing individuals following traffic citations is standard police conduct.

Lampela said it is warranted from time to time, while Bellinger said it's improper police conduct.

Bellinger apparently had several other issues with Lampela that were raised during the meeting.

"Why are there so many people that fear the police department?" Bellinger asked at the beginning of the meeting. "They fear they will be retaliated against if they speak out."

Lampela assured the large crowd that everyone could speak freely.

Both Rectenwald and Mathys recently said these arrests were made because they've spoken out about the chief in past years.

Other dialogue

Ed Fitzgerald, owner of Mr. Ed's, asked Lampela about the acts of three off-duty officers about three weeks ago.

He did not elaborate on the situation, though Lampela said one officer involved in the allegedly inappropriate behavior was terminated.

Neither men explained what exactly the officer did to result in termination, though Lampela said that officer was the only one at fault.

In a separate interaction, a woman stood up and blasted the chief and his department for threatening to her arrest her on her own property during an incident in which she called police to help with an intruder.

The Put-in-Bay Resort general manager also recently said she called police to help her with unruly resort guests before she was arrested.

The woman at Thursday's meeting said a man was throwing bottles at her house, but the officer only laughed at her and threatened to arrest her during the exchange, she said.

"He threatened to arrest me when I did nothing," she said. "I can't call (police), I can't rely on (police). It's a waste of my tax dollars."

Other less emotional topics were brought up during the meeting, such as golf cart parking rules, open container laws and noise coming from bars.

One supporter of Lampela and lifelong island resident stood up and said Lampela is the best police chief the island has ever had.

Lampela talks….. Sort of

Lampela called out the Register multiple times during the meeting, disputing recent reports that he has refused to comment.

He said during the meeting a recent article reported he did not comment at a council meeting he did not attend.

"I was 1,400 miles away," Lampela said.

The article did not state Lampela declined to comment at the meeting, however.

It stated he has repeatedly declined to comment on a number of cases from his department.

But after the meeting, however, he admitted why he has not been commenting to the Register.

"Why do you think I haven't been commenting to the Sandusky Register?" he asked.

Lampela was told likely because of recent articles.

"You're a pretty good investigator," he said sarcastically.

He again declined to comment on the resort employee's arrest in which the charges were dropped, saying it is part of an ongoing investigation. 



It doesn't sound like the Chief did anything to help his reputation. After reading this, I'd say he sounds like a pompous a$s.

Talk about a dog and pony show.


Agree 100%..This 'chief' looks like a spoiled little brat that needs a good beat down..just my opinion


Did the SR monitor take a sandwich break or what?


Town clown ..smh

Kilroy was here

I agree with the above comments. The chief probably felt like he snowed most of the people attending by agreeing to address the issues about those mentioned in the article, and figured he charmed a few others.
My take was that he has been away taking classes at tax payer expense probably and in there lies a problem. If you aren't here leading your employees tasked with great responsibility and they don't have experience as he admitted to, you have abandoned your ethical and professional responsibility as a chief and leader. The chief ignored the citizens that had issues with the officer he wants to promote, way to lose the respect of the citizens whom you serve chief!!!!
And I don't think the Mayor has any clue on what the citizens who elected her or pay the taxes are feeling nor any interest in doing anything other than showing up because she has a title of Mayor. Get a clue Mayor, lose the Chief and his team or lose your title.


Guaranteed they had to look up what adjudicated meant before they used that word. lol


Why doesn't Kelleys Island have these problems? Because the police dept. there are respectable people.

The governed

Kelley's just does a better job of keeping stuff low key and it doesn't hurt that Pallidino owns the police dept.


The only way this island is going to see the change it needs it for the Mayor to resign or be recalled and someone put in there who has more sense than God gave a goose and fire this idiot. It was pretty clear with the resorts cases (one which he was informed was CLOSED and he COULD talk about) he knows his department is in trouble. What was even more clear is that the council members who attended clearly did not buy his stories.


If you people don't fire him, his crew, and your mayor you deserve everything you get.


I have to say once again: GOOD JOB SANDUSKY REGISTER!!!
Absolutely STELLAR Reporting on this situation!!! So much information here and links are even provided to VIEW the arrest situation - absolutely wonderful job presenting this situation as fully as possible to everyone!
All readers can make up their own minds this way!
Not everyone has time to attend public meetings and the bulk of the island population are VISITORS!
****Vacationers are supposed to attend public meetings in order to receive FAIR TREATMENT on this island??
They need to attend in order to understand "the details" of local laws????***
Just keep on this story Sandusky Register! Don't let up! Don't be misled and Don't Go Away!
Islanders depend on this fair reporting and vacationers (both present and future) depend on islander's informed judgements to rectify (or should I say "adjudicate" lol) both village and police officials....

Ralph J.

"One supporter of Lampela and lifelong island resident stood up and said Lampela is the best police chief the island has ever had."
What is the name of this supporter? Is this supporter saying that Lang was much worse than Lampela?


IMO, Lang was worse than Lampela. Former officers alleged Lang was a thief and covered up wrongdoing by certain people. At least nobody claims Lampela is a thief.

Julie R.

If that's true about Lang (and I don't doubt it for a second), wasn't it just so ironic that the city of Sandusky chose Lang to be the interim police chief after Nuesse was fired "for failure to show absolute honesty."


Yes, and do not forget Lang was the "fearless leader" of the Erie Metro Parks Rangers who sawed off the Cole's deck while holding the Cole's at by at gun point during the height of the Greenway dispute.

Julie R.

I never knew that, either.

So before Lang, as the "fearless leader" of the Erie Metro Parks Rangers, sawed off the Cole's deck while holding the Cole's at bay at gunpoint, did Lang clear it first with the prosecutor Kevin Baxter and MetroPark's Lorain County attorney, Dennis O'Toole? (i.e. Baumgartner & O'Toole, now known as Stumphauzer & O'Toole)


I'm willing to bet he was paid.


This chief makes a lot of excuses. I for one am getting tired of hearing them. Yes, for as long as he has been there, he has a turn over of new officers every summer, they come and go, we know that. Knowing that, you change the way you run your office! You can not run this office like any other police station any where else, because it is very unique. This excuse should have been adressed after his first year.

Look at Cedar Point. Every year they get an influx of brand new employees, some with a language barrier. Most of these employees are much younger. They too deal with hot, tired, cranky and sometimes belligerent tourists. They have very important safety issues to learn and abide by. We put our lives in these kids hands, every time we get strapped in and get on a ride. These kids are also responsible for thousands of dollars each hour that pass through their hands. The life guards at Soak City are highly trained and deal with a packed park every single day. If you have ever spent anytime there you see these kids are serious about safety, follow rules, are not taking their eyes off the water and have been trained very very well. Also, Cedar Point is responsible for many of these employees 24/7 !

Mr. Lampela, how is it that Cedar Point can train thousands of new employees each year to act responsible and respectful, courteous and do a good job, and you can't handle 40?

Mr. Lampela, how is it that every bar, resort and restaurant on the island, that also deals with binge drinking drunks, can train their influx of new employees and you can't?

You knew since day one this problem existed, for you to use the excuse that officers come and go, after this many years as chief, is truly pathetic and quite frankly unacceptable.


different environment

Ralph J.

"Kelley's just does a better job of keeping stuff low key and it doesn't hurt that Pallidino owns the police dept." This doesn't surprise me. Where is that new 160 foot long ferry boat funded by millions of taxpayer dollars? It was supposed to have been completed last year.


Just look at him for God's sake ! Guaranteed he became a cop because he was picked on and had his arse kicked on a regular basis when he was younger. I'll get them back ! I'll become a big bad popo and I will have the upper hand / control !!!! Nobody will pick on me again if I have a badge, taser, pepper spray and a gun !


Is he as short as he looks?


LOL, like a small dog...all yippy-yappy, and trying to mark his territory.


Lampela can't blame seasonal employees. He has committed either negligent hiring or negligent retention. Any civil lawsuits stemming from the PIB PD's
will have Lampela named as a defendant. Any training issues are Lampela's fault. Looks as if he missed a golden opportunity. If Bellinger is a police academy instructor, he surely has the certification to train service officers on a few areas of their job.
Lampela could use this as an opportunity to bring some refresher training to his PD.
Bellinger could also act as a good liasion in helping the PD build better communty relations, assuming both truly care about the community.
It doesn't have to be about who is in who's pocket. I'd be willing to bet most reasonable business owners understand some of the issues the PD faces with tourists and would be less criticial if a more balanced application of the laws were used.

Kilroy was here

During the meeting some business owners wanted to hire the police officers or have them stationed at their business in order to control or keep in check the unruly guests. Why are these people unruly you ask! Is it the fact that they want to over serve their customers, making every dollar they can and then expect them to behave as well. Sad and amusing at the same time. Have village council increase or put on a stupid tax so businesses can increase the department budget to hire more experienced officers to deal with the stupid, unruly guests. While the council does that, hire a police chief that knows how to lead. Also council should take away from the current lame duck mayor the ability to investigate the police department. Nine months and she has yet to act, that is pitiful!! Maybe she should be in congress. Anyway there should be a committee based on a citizen at large, council member, trustee and then a person with police experience not tied to the island to investigate any complaints.


yes ! Lets put a stupid tax on the ferry boats that bring stupid people to the island. Then maybe they will not let the stupid people on the boat since they see them first! And Kilroy, since you are so good at picking them out you can be in charge!


Port Clinton should levy an admissions tax on all passengers.


Napoleonic complex....I'm sure he can find a hat at one of the boutiques at PIB to complete the "look" !

Kilroy was here

Thanks Fed up Islanders!!! But having worked with stupid before I am trying to enjoy retirement. One thing we both know is they out number us LOL!! And the ones partying today will have kids that can't tie their own shoes, they all can't keep their pants up now , let alone know how to be polite, responsible adults. How the human race will continue is beyond me.


Register got it right....police department is out of control and it will take a serious intervention to remove these perps running it. It will take a decrease in tourism before they finally get it. Or the FBI


Here's a suggestion no one has discussed and I am throwing it out there for discussion.
Disband PIB PD. Then have the Ottawa County Sheriff take over. Move numerous seasoned deputies to the island for peak time and then have the SO in charge of hiring of the seasonal staff who are then supervised and trained by the seasoned deps. This way you have a very good mix of experience with younger officers. Reality is there will always be issues when you have to hire on a seasonal basis. This is nothing more than a stepping stone and a place to hold a commission for 98 percent of the officers til city police Dept's call.
How do you pay for such a thing?? Take the dept funding they get now and funnel that to the SO via a special assessment for the additional deputies. Then levy a small bed tax or sin tax, thus allowing for increased pay, training and retention thorough the SO.


The problems (unlawful arrests, selective prosecution, extortion, excessive force) would still exist because the problems arise from the prosecutor's office.


One of the papers I read bout this meeting, reported that someone in the meeting asked about Ohlemacher's case.

The person asked if Lampela stayed true to his word, in the letter of apology, and held more training classes. Lampela said, no he did not, "it wasn't necessary".


Someone, don't know who but, should put an end to this "old wild west" type of law enforcement at PIB.


Right. Disband the PD and let ocso begin handling. It has been happening all around. Cities paying for the SO to take over. That would put an end to it