Update: Port Clinton police go social

Chief Rob Hickman uses Facebook page to bash Register's request for public records.
Shawn Foucher
Jun 15, 2013

June 15, 2013, 6 p.m.

Port Clinton police chief Robert Hickman responded to an article in Saturday's Register by posting at the police department's Facebook page, declaring he would determine what information would be released for a police blotter and he would continue posting that information at the Facebook page.

"I will NOT debate this issue with (the Register) as we’ve spoken to them a couple times this past week regarding the release of our/your records," Hickman wrote. "They along with other media outlets will be provided a copy of the 'blotter' as I print here on Facebook and if the Sandusky Register or others want further specific information; all they have to do is request it (plain and simple)." 

The police department has denied several public records requests already, however, the latest on Friday when police department records clerk Mark Anderson said the newspaper's request to review specific incident reports was "overly broad or burdensome." The request was not broad and would have required Anderson to simply press the "print" button on a computer keyboard to print the documents.

Other police departments across the region comply with the very same request every day.

State law specifically details how public records are to be released and does not allow for police departments to withhold records arbitrarily or use social media as a substitute for complying with public records requests. The Register renewed its requests for documents on Saturday. 

Despite the seemingly apparent noncompliance with state law, some fans of the police department's Facebook page supported Hickman's decision to pick and choose which documents the public can see. 

"We, the public, are informed and you inform us how you see fit," Courtney Dorreman posted in a statement directed to Hickman. "Keep doing what you think is best and forget their drama."

Another poster at the city's social media page expressed similar animosity toward the Register for requesting the documents.

"The Register is TRASH! And they hate Police! Anyone can see that!" Mary Tuttamore Meade posted. "Chief Hickman, you keep doing the awesome job you have been doing for your community!"

Another poster suggested documents and information should be withheld from the public despite state law requiring disclosure. 

"The register/community does not need to know every detail in every call," Nicole Goldstein wrote. "I believe the list of calls dispatched is enough for the public. If they want more then they can get off their butts and do the hard work of getting the info."

*

Original post, June 15, 2013, 5 a.m.:

Port Clinton police don't disclose
 
Officers are so overworked, they can’t print reports. 

That’s more or less the word from police Chief Rob Hickman and records clerk Mark Anderson, who said their records software makes it much too difficult to print crime reports on a weekly basis.

The Register routinely requests incident reports from area police departments and sheriff’s offices, using information from the reports to write stories and police blotter. Almost without fail, area law enforcement departments provide — either daily or weekly — a stack of incident reports typed up by officers and deputies. 

Sandusky police, for example, employ one records clerk who on a daily basis prints dozens upon dozens of incident reports that are made available that same day. 

Port Clinton, however, has resorted to providing the public with a list of calls dispatched, but no reports associated with those calls. Many of the items say, “Breaking and entering,” or “citation issued,” but it provides no further information, such as who was arrested or any other particulars. 

In short, the list of calls of dispatched is useless in providing any information of value to the public.    

Port Clinton police said the Register can circle any items that look interesting, then request reports for those. With vague information on the call log — in some cases, zero information — it is near impossible to determine what merits an “interesting” report. 

Hickman, Anderson and Port Clinton police Detective Corbin Carpenter said the Register is making Port Clinton police do the newspaper’s work by requesting all incident reports, rather than, as the police department suggests, choosing items that look interesting.    

The Register has asked the department to provide full reports for anything listed on the call log. Anderson, the records clerk, said Friday this request is “overly broad or ambiguous.” 

This is the first time a local police department has ever used this reasoning to deny a weekly batch of incident reports based on this exemption. The Register’s request is not overly broad or ambiguous. 

Sometimes, Port Clinton police would be forced to print anywhere from six reports to 20 reports a day. Anderson said he’s much too busy to print so many reports. 

State law is clear about police incident reports. A police department’s defunct software system — incapable of easily printing reports — is not one of the listed exemptions. 

As a result of Port Clinton’s stance, the Register cannot run Port Clinton police blotter in today’s paper. Other blotters from area police agencies will appear in the newspaper today and throughout the weekend as usual.  

Comments

Fibber Mcgee

Did we have this problem when Bahnsen was chief?

nobodyfromnowhere

No but then Westerhold wasn't the editor either and the Register actually displayed balance, accuracy, and professionalism.

deertracker

I can't believe some of you are defending the police on this. This is a no brainer.

TboneWalkerJr

Keep in mind that many of the defenders are no doubt part of the same crowd that says and honestly beleives "I don't care if police come inside everybody's house and search it top to bottom with no warrant. I don't have anything to hide"

Centauri

Good comment. Many people in foreign countries wonder why Americans are so stupid and ignorant. The law is the law when it comes to public records requests. I posted and tried to explain what the law states. Did the ignorant bother to read what I posted? Being ignorant means one is not aware but ignoring information to become aware means being stupid.

grandmasgirl

I don't live in PC. I will say however, that the only thing I would be interested in is the same as unassumer. I would rather the police be on the lookout for things that could affect the public safety. Don't the police have computers in their cars so that they can write up the report right after it happens?

tzu4u

Have you EVER seen a police report published from Catawba Island in any newspaper? This is nothing new for us!

FlyBoy86

We have our own Police Department. PCPD doesn't patrol up here.

goodtime1212

I am sure it is the law, and sure they should comply, but not front page news, Sounds to me like the Register is stomping there feet and jumping up and down throwing a fit because they are not getting what they want. Just like a school superintendent in our area. Look below for Matt,s responds.

ladydye_5

Not every newspaper runs a "police blotter of the day" . Not every police department hands over a nightly report to the media. I think many are just upset they have no entertainment of the day. Most people are just nosey and "ambulance chasers". If they have heard or seen the police, fire dept, EMS squad go they just like to be nosey and know everything. Honestly I have never seen any USEFUL information on the police blotter segments. I have not changed my day, worried about a tourist, or needed more information on a crazy drunk. It is fun to read, fun to point at and laugh, but news worthy? NO.

dorothy gale

LIKE

lugnut2511

It's called laziness and they to have rules to abide by.. Maybe it's time for a shake up there as well

Julie R.

Isn't Port Clinton in Ottawa County? Isn't that the county that worked in collusion with Erie County and corrupt Cuyahoga County to put the disbarred Oak Harbor attorney in prison for 8 years?

Enough said.

J Cooper

You mean the CONVICTED FELON and disbarred lawyer.

Enough Said

Julie R.

Convicted felon? What a joke.

As for being disbarred --- I can give you quite a list of dirt-bag attorneys that are unfit to practice law and Elsebeth Baumgarter is not one of them. For that matter, I can give you the names of some judges that are also unfit to practice law .... and unfit is an understatement.

J Cooper

The joke must be on her, she still is in prison and will never regain her law license as a CONVICTED FELON.

Julie R.

I see that worthless former OAG Marc Dann just got his law license back after only a 6-month suspension.

http://www.toledoblade.com/State...

Wow --- that worthless skirt-chaser resigned following revelations showing his inner circle in turmoil as allegations of sex harrassment were brought against his top aide, Dann himself admitted to his own consensual extramarital affair with his scheduler, he was accused of cronyism in hiring practices, pled guilty to two first-degree misdemeanors for using campaign and inauguration accounts to funnel pay to two top aides and friends plus he got it for failing to disclose income & gifts on ethics forms and all he got was a 6-month suspension of his law license? Even worse, had it been up to that worthless Ohio Disciplinary Counsel he wouldn't have even got that.

So instead of saying the joke is on the disbarred attorney, why not tell it like it is and say the joke is on ALL of us in OHIO?

Really are you ...

Law enforcement and governing bodies have gone from keeping the public informed to a need to know basis. I would like to know a lot of things as to exactly what and why the government does what they do and get away with it. Things like: When is the price of fuel going to drop back to where it was in, say 1990? Why wasn't the Iraq war paid for by Iraq? Afghanistan the same way? Why didn't the government warn the taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan that the US forces will pass through those mountain chains free of charge and if any shots fired at the troops we will level the mountains? When are the jobs coming back to the United States? Why are there no terms for congressmen? Why does the government allow special interest groups and lobbyists influence the pass or fail of new bills or laws introduced to congress? Why is congress paid if they can not balance a budget? At a local level. Where is the justice for Jake? How many other things have been hidden from the public eye? But then again, I am on a need to know basis.

Fromthe419

Very good question Really, I wonder if a situation could occur where a report states officers dispatched to 123 Main St (hypothetically). That is all that is on the report, the SR (and any other paper) looks at it and doesn't circle it for further information. When the actual report is there was loud music, the officers entered the residence without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and a citizen call them out on unlawful search and seizure and the officer blasted him in the face with mace. This would never come to light if the citizen decided not to pursue legal options. Just sayin'

Centauri

"Sometimes, Port Clinton police would be forced to print anywhere from six reports to 20 reports a day. Anderson said he’s much too busy to print so many reports.

6 to 20 daily police reports are not “overly broad or ambiguous.” If a person or newspapers asked for all police department public records for the past 100 years, then it would be considered overly broad and ambiguous. Who is giving legal advice to Anderson? Some prosecutor who "chooses" who to indict and who to slip away?

How is that theft case of $200,000 from an elderly widow in Ottawa County (Ohio) coming along? Same as a former sheriff who used public money for personal use?

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/149.43
Availability of public records for inspection and copying.

2) "Confidential law enforcement investigatory record" means any record that pertains to a law enforcement matter of a criminal, quasi-criminal, civil, or administrative nature, but only to the extent that the release of the record would create a high probability of disclosure of any of the following:

(a) The identity of a suspect who has not been charged with the offense to which the record pertains, or of an information source or witness to whom confidentiality has been reasonably promised;

(b) Information provided by an information source or witness to whom confidentiality has been reasonably promised, which information would reasonably tend to disclose the source's or witness's identity;

(c) Specific confidential investigatory techniques or procedures or specific investigatory work product;

(d) Information that would endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel, a crime victim, a witness, or a confidential information source.

Above are the exceptions to Ohio police reports. Being too busy is not one of them.

Centauri

What do you expect from a city that allowed a house of ill repute to stay in business for years?

J Cooper

Still upset they wouldn't give you a refund for failure to perform?

Centauri

Troll and flamer

J Cooper

Still talking about a place that was closed down by law enforcement in 1972, are you self promoting again.

Centauri

Corrupt Ottawa County (Ohio) Sheriffs.

http://toledogazette.wordpress.c...
"The revelations would eventually bring down the sitting Ottawa County sheriff James Ellenberger and sent former Ottawa county sheriff Myron Hetrick to prison for helping to distribute tens of thousands of dollars in bribes."

Mikola15

Are you really bringing up something from decades ago??? What does this have to do with the current administration of Port Clinton PD?

Centauri

http://www.portclintonpd.org/Rec...
"We process all public record requests from many different agencies and citizens. The records office remains current on the Public Records Act and complies with the Records Retention Schedule as set forth by the Ohio Historical Society. We make reports accessible as a means to provide trust between the public and our Department."

Lakerielife

Anyone who is familiar with public records knows that you have to request them usually. I think pc police do a great job keeping the community informed. They have already addressed this article on their Facebook page. Sandusky register, why don't you let the news herald worry about port Clinton and you can keep attacking the public services in your city alone.

sandtown born a...

Obviously they do because they can its called the law . Pick and choose isn't a option for the transparency of law enforcement

dougall33

Matt, perhaps you should be willing to pay for these requests as the Ohio Revised Code states they have right to charge you:

(6) If any person chooses to obtain a copy of a public record in accordance with division (B) of this section, the public office or person responsible for the public record may require that person to pay in advance the cost involved in providing the copy of the public record in accordance with the choice made by the person seeking the copy under this division. The public office or the person responsible for the public record shall permit that person to choose to have the public record duplicated upon paper, upon the same medium upon which the public office or person responsible for the public record keeps it, or upon any other medium upon which the public office or person responsible for the public record determines that it reasonably can be duplicated as an integral part of the normal operations of the public office or person responsible for the public record. When the person seeking the copy makes a choice under this division, the public office or person responsible for the public record shall provide a copy of it in accordance with the choice made by the person seeking the copy. Nothing in this section requires a public office or person responsible for the public record to allow the person seeking a copy of the public record to make the copies of the public record.

(7) Upon a request made in accordance with division (B) of this section and subject to division (B)(6) of this section, a public office or person responsible for public records shall transmit a copy of a public record to any person by United States mail or by any other means of delivery or transmission within a reasonable period of time after receiving the request for the copy. The public office or person responsible for the public record may require the person making the request to pay in advance the cost of postage if the copy is transmitted by United States mail or the cost of delivery if the copy is transmitted other than by United States mail, and to pay in advance the costs incurred for other supplies used in the mailing, delivery, or transmission.

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/149.43

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