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

Lakerielife

Is there any other worth while news going on?

Woody Hayes

Convicted felon and disbarred lawyer. Yep, that about says it all, doesn't it Tin Foil.

Mr. D

Awww, ctauri, thanks for the history lesson. But the house of ill repute deal is ancient history. You can do better than that!

sandusky2012

He will decide what information needs released maybe he should contact the AG office that's not what the sunshine law states.. also maybe he needs to be removed from his position if he wants to violate the law. I will file complaint with the AG office monday on this clown!!!!!

SamAdams

Public records are, well, public. Now while I continue to disagree what SHOULD constitute "public," the fact is that anything so designated is available to you, me, or the media simply by making the request.

Ah, well, if it makes anybody in Port Clinton feel any better, various federal entities also have an abysmal track record when it comes to providing public records (everything from delays to refusals to demands for exhorbitant payment). On the other hand, most of us call THOSE folks CROOKS! Probably because they are. And you know what? That's what people at ANY level of government are called when they refuse to comply with the law!

Yes, we ought to curb the amount of public information available. Yes, there are things we ALL ought to fight to be kept private. But that's up to us to demand and legislators to change. The police don't MAKE the laws; they just enforce them.

Hear that, chief?

Centauri

http://www.toledonewsnow.com/sto...
"Port Clinton officer responds to author of obscene letter"

"Be assured the Port Clinton Police Department will investigate this violation of Ohio Revised Code the same as every other complaint, to the fullest of our ability!"

Which law of the ORC is Corbin referring to?

Wasn't the letter from a citizen also a public record that the Port Clinton police refused to release?

PyrkinsPyrate

Matt Westerhold has done much more to defend our rights and liberties than these pigs who are deadset in running their corrupt lawbreaking rackets in the darkness. Can anyone thing of any local Law Enforcement Agency that has demonstrated they are worthy of trust and respect? Of course the Sandusky Register dislikes law enforcement since basically LE around here is a corrupt gang that abuses the public.

Centauri

http://www.toledoblade.com/local...

"PORT CLINTON A high-ranking city employee who recently resigned from his post over the sale of city-owned scrap metal was indicted this morning in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court on two counts of felony theft."

Didn't this felon get a slap on the wrist and diversion and no criminal record?

Clark W

Just another embarrassing article by the SR.
It's the equivalent of a child's tantrum.
And, judging by the majority of posters here, and virtually all on Facebook, it's truly backfired on the SR.
I have some questions for Mr. Westerhold.
Who is pushing the quite apparent anti-law enforcement agenda?
Is it you?
Is it the individual reporters?
What is the publisher's role in this?

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Clark W, but why would you think a simple request for public records is somehow anti-law enforcement? The requirements are specifically detailed in state law and ignoring those requirements is prohibited by state law. That seems pretty straightforward and there is no anti-law enforcement agenda in it at all.  

Clark W

Has PCPD made records available to the SR, or have they given you nothing?
And I fail to see how the PCPD's Facebook post bashes the SR.
On the other hand, it's easy to see that the SR is bashing the PCPD.
Care to answer my other questions, here, for all to see?
You're so interested in transparency, answer my questions here.

Matt Westerhold

As the article clearly details, the Port Clinton police department has not provided the public records the Register has requested. 

The newspaper is referred to as "trash" on the city's social media page, and another poster suggested reporters were too lazy to 'get off their butts." That seems a little bashing to me and inappropriate for a city to provide a forum for inaccurate comments of that nature. 

Since the Register does not have an anti-law enforcement agenda your other questions are moot.

Clark W

Wow Mr. Matt Westerhold.
You can dish it out, but you can't take it.
Not surprising.
You get to bash all you want, but the first time someone criticizes you or the SR, you retreat to your shell.
At least answer this: What role does your publisher (who, as it turns out, has no news or newspaper experience) play in all of this?

Matt Westerhold

The Register is not retreating, Clark W. We renewed our request for the incident reports today and we forwarded a copy of it to the Ohio attorney general's public records mediation service for review. It seems abundantly clear the Port Clinton police department is not complying with the requirements of ORC 149.43.  And again, you are asking questions that cannot be answered because you are basing them on the inaccurate assumption the SR has an anti-law enforcement agenda. You, or any other reader, is welcome to call me at 419-609-5866 if there is a need for further clarification. 

asweetnessabove

You must be a great dancer, because you're using professional dance moves on this dance floor. Way to dance around the questions that, honestly, a lot of people would like answered!

deertracker

How many different ways does he need to answer the same question? Pay attention!

asweetnessabove

I am paying attention. You clearly, are not. He has answered maybe 1. Maybe you should learn how to read.

herbie_hancock

Its not just the departments that think its trash. Figured you and your publisher would be able to see the growing trend of folks around here that take what you print with a grain of salt, which means your losing touch with your target audience. If I were the owner of the paper I would take that into consideration. Your "journalism" awards don't exaclty mean your a good paper, that means your PEERS think you can write, it means nothing when it comes to your readers. If there were and alternative for our area we would buy it.

nobodyfromnowhere

Hey Matt it me with the silly name. Neither the Police Chief nor the department referred to the Register as "trash" nor did they say your reporters "were too lazy to get up off their butts". Those statements were the opinion of citizens. So your headline is a blatant lie as Hickman did not make the offending statements which you claim bash the Register. Since these were made by citizens are you suggesting that the city censure their speech? If so I would suggest you read the Registers comment section where the police are referred to as "pigs" & "a corrupt gang". Also the Chief is referred to as "that boy" & "the pcpd dog boy", perhaps you should check your own site before complaining about somebody else's. Its things such as these that do demonstrate either an anti-law enforcement agenda or blatant incompetence on the part of the Register.

Centauri

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"A former city official might not face trial on charges of stealing city-owned scrap metal."

Centauri

""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."

Is this Nicole about 30 years old and from Sandusky County, Ohio?

Centauri

One lesson that I learned early in life is never fight with somebody who buys their ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.

Woody Hayes

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

Centauri

What were Woody Hayes comments? I didn't see them before removal.

Kimo

Get Kasich to add the PC PD to his Jobsohio team.........
Nobody knows what they do, no reports to anyone.

They are using government money for corporate welfare checks and tax credits. Records are sealed from the SR.

Where is Matts "outrage" over that puppy?

Nah, easier to pick on a PD across the bridge......

your master

What's that boy in port Clinton trying to hide

Centauri

Can Port Clinton afford another lawsuit? Why didn't Port Clinton just settle with that attorney about that $20 parking ticket?

http://www.13abc.com/story/21935...
"Zilba's attorney Corey Tomlinson tells 13 ABC, "These are not compensatory damages. The money is for attorney's fees. This has been litigated for a year and a half. We were just asking them to fix the law and pay the fees."

The settlement agreement says the city has to change its parking enforcement policy to comply with state law and the U.S. Constitution."

If the city gets sued, can Port Clinton afford to pay the court costs and legal fees of the Sandusky Register?

There was a case in Ohio where a county prosecutor and judge refused to give a 911 tape to a newspaper claiming that it was not a public record.

http://news.cincinnati.com/artic...
"Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has filed notice that he’ll appeal an Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals decision last week that he and Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage violated the public records act in withholding the 911 tape containing a confession from defendant Michael Ray."

I see where Port Clinton (Ohio) made the urban dictionary.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/d...

It is much easier to obey the Ohio law when it comes to public records than to try to fight it with huge legal fees and court costs. I have posted exceptions when it comes to public records requests with regards to Ohio law enforcement agencies.

your master

Also where the Randelman Dunn dash cam video

your master

The Dunn dash cam video is owed to us we paid for it

Kimo

Someone asked the question..... Does SR pay for all the man hours and paper for those reports?

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