Island police 'out of control'

Dennis Rectenwald, retired Port Clinton Schools superintendent and a Put-in-Bay businessman, cuffed and detained after running stop sign
Alex Green
Jul 16, 2014

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. 


The Bizness

Yep, the witch hunt is on.


Just for clarification, who in your opinion are the witches being hunted and who are the hunters?

The Bizness


Peninsula Pundit



I agree, Rectenwald is a target. The small island is a Peyton's place. Your either with "them" or against them, if he spoke out at city council, he's on the black list.

The Bizness

I mean the Register has a witch hung going on towards PIB LE


Yes Biz, I knew what you meant. I was being facetious.

If we believe you, we have to believe that a new reporter, that is still a kid, that came from out of state, hasn't ever even been to the islands, decides out of the blue to target Put in Bay and start making up stories to make the island
look bad. Yes, this young reporter thought it would "sell more papers" if he has a witch hunt, and takes on a bunch of rich business owners, who buy up all the property on the island, like they are playing Monopoly, then think they are above the law! It sounds like a great way for him to make friends fast in his first year, away from his family, at his first big job out of college.

I would have loved to see the Mayor when she told Alex he should do a "nice story on the beautiful new docks" , and he said, "we did that three weeks ago". BAM!


The Bizness

Hey, they need to sell papers, and a good way to do that is to create drama,

Matt Westerhold

You got us The Bizness. We whispered in the police officer's ear and he slapped the cuffs on Rectenwald just as the Register instructed him to do. Yes. Yes.  We did it because we wanted to create drama. 

The Bizness

No you are creating drama by continuously running stories about the same agency. Appears you have an agenda towards the PIB police department currently.

1. Justice for Jake
2. Burdine
3. St. Marys

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Bizness for the observation. The article above is the only news story the Register has published about Rectenwald being handcuffed and given a traffic citation. Perhaps you read an account in another newspaper. 

The Bizness

I am referring to all your recent articles dealing with PIB police. By the way, what exactly did the officer do wrong? If I was cuffed like this, I doubt there would be a story.

Alex Green

The Register is not stating whether or not the officer did anything wrong.

But three people involved said police significantly overstepped their authority and handcuffed the man without telling him to get back in his car.

Peninsula Pundit

Don't worry.
One day the po-po will tune up The Bidness and he will sound like the finest, ahem, left-winger he could ever imagine.


when i had drives ed in school we were taught to stay in car, not to get out, so not to let officer's think you were trying to run, go after them, or any thing else to put the officer in harms way. Mr Rectenwald being a school teacher should know this


Just because someone taught you to do this has nothing to do with when you are in our own yard. Cops are dirty up here. That's the real story.

Erie County Resident

So chasf I guess you live in your car and never get out of it for anything.
Rectenwald got out of his car at HOME.. You mean this isn't allowed.
Your drivers ed class must have been real weird to teach you to stay in your car in your driveway.


You know, a few months ago I would have been inclined to vehemently disagree with you on your reporting about local police agencies. Boy how things have changed. I no longer believe this is a witch hunt, in fact I think Matt, you may be on to something. We are seeing what appears to be a growing police state not just locally but across the nation. It seems that more often we are seeing police blatantly overstepping their bounds and nobody is holding them accountable.

I have to give credit to Matt, he is at least using the press for what it was intended; finding the truth when it comes to governmental misconduct and hold those responsible accountable.


Happens ALL the time to Blacks. Get used to it!


Strange that Col. West doesn't feel the way you do, neither does Alan Keys, Col. Rice, Cain, Thomas and many other fine and outstanding blacks. Maybe you should dress differently and stop being the victim, if you look guilty people will think you've done something.
Oh, I forgot, common sense doesn't work with you, its everybody's else s fault, they owe you everything.

getit right be4...

"Maybe you should dress differently and stop being the victim, if you look guilty people will think you've done something."

Wow it baffles me every time someone spews garbage like this. If only you looked more like me you wouldn't deserver to be a victim. You are a fool.


Funny, my white cop friend told me he never liked to pull over any black people for a simple traffic stop. He let many slide because so many would throw the race card in his face from the get go. I guess the situation flip flopped some time ago but know body talks about it!

Erie County Resident

Put your laminated race card back in your wallet deer, your starting to sound like Sharpton.


It's a fact ECR! Who needs a race card when there's lots of people out there just like YOU!


LOL !!! Just ignore him Matt, everyone with common sense knows that post is loony.


DENY, DENY, DENY Truth2u. Doesn't change what's real.


have you seen the photo of the PIB cop sleeping in his patrol car?


I don't know Matt, has anyone checked the SR's basement lately? There might be a mind control machine there. LOL. But in all seriousness, as a reader from afar I'm always amused at how many people seem to think that the SR is behind every local controversial news-story. Some people in Sandusky should relax, and be happy that the community actually has an independent-minded newspaper: many communities, large and small, have lost theirs.


Matt. Stay out of PIB, at least don't drive a car with a SR sign on the doors. You probably will disappear off the face of the earth like Jimmy Hoffa.

Julie R.

I couldn't help it. I had to laugh at that comment.