Dennis Rectenwald is a pretty well-known man in Ottawa and Erie counties, largely due to decades spent as a public schools superintendent and businessman.
But Put-in-Bay police viewed him as a potential threat Monday when they forcefully handcuffed the 68-year-old for allegedly running a stop sign and exiting his vehicle after stopping it on his own property, Harriet's House Guest House and Suites.
Rectenwald, who worked 20 years as the Port Clinton superintendent and more recently for Perkins schools, said police misconduct is out of control on the island.
"There is a lack of consistency, a lack of fairness," Rectenwald said of the department and its enforcement of the law. "People are starting to say 'enough is enough.'"
Put-in-Bay police have been accused of repeatedly overstepping their authority throughout police Chief Ric Lampela's tenure.
Rectenwald believes they did yet again Monday when they handcuffed him on his property in front of about 10 witnesses, he said.
Elected officials in particular should shoulder the blame for the repeated alleged misconduct, Rectenwald said.
"It starts from the top and works down," Rectenwald said. "The way people are treated, it starts with the police chief and mayor."
Neither Lampela nor Put-in-Bay Mayor Margaret Scarpelli returned phone calls Tuesday seeking comment. Both have dodged multiple questions on multiple community issues recently raised by a variety of locals and island visitors.
They also ditched a July 1 court hearing they were scheduled to attend in one criminal case .
Ron Szabo and David George, friends of Rectenwald, saw what police did when they cuffed Rectenwald. Both men said police significantly overstepped their authority.
Rectenwald said the officer told him he was being handcuffed because Rectenwald charged at the officer. A Put-in-Bay police report written by officer Tylor Pimental stated Rectenwald was handcuffed because Pimental thought Rectenwald "may have a weapon or might have intent to hurt officer Draper and I."
Both Szabo and George were just 30 feet away, and both said the officer never told Rectenwald to get back in his car. Instead, Rectenwald was handcuffed and cited for failure to stop at a traffic control device and failure to use turn and stop signals.
"If this officer was in fear, what kind of cop is he?" Szabo asked.
Szabo said the officer's statement to Rectenwald that he charged at him was untrue.
"(Rectenwald) is no threat to anybody," Szabo said.
The information the officer wrote in the report is inaccurate, Szabo said, which prompted him to question what to believe when police issue reports.
"What will happen in the future?"
David George of Port Clinton called police behavior a travesty when they cited Rectenwald.
"It was a total over-reaction by police," George said. "It was a total misjudgment. It's unbelievable."
He said Rectenwald exited his vehicle because he was on his property where he lives and runs a business.
Rectenwald said he fears what happened might be retaliation for him speaking out at various council meetings over the years.
Managers of Put-in-Bay Resort have also stated the resort and its employees have been victims of police misconduct for years, ever since the owner had a disagreement with Lampela over a sound ordinance years ago. Three resort employees were arrested in September in questionable circumstances that appear to be personal and unrelated to any violations of law.
Mayor Scarpelli and Lampela have shut down any response to the concerns that have been raised, ignoring island residents and businesspeople.