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

Matt Westerhold

Try to breathe between keystrokes, nobody, lighten up a little. Hit the print button on your computer 150 times, or hit it 1,000 times. The time it takes to do that — to comply with a public records request — is not consequential either way. it is seems disingenuous to claim it is, especially when the police department has time to post jokes at its Facebook page. Providing public records upon request is a requirement of the law. The Register has a right to request the records just as you have the right to request them. It's difficult to know how many reports are produced each week since the police department is improperly withholding those reports. So the number of reports is somewhere between one and many more than that. Your questions all seem to be similar to asking me when I quit beating my wife.  

nobodyfromnowhere

Except that complying with your over broad request takes more than just hitting print and Im confident that you know that. 3 hours a day is 15hours a week or 780 hours a year. So your request alone would require 4.8 months of the records clerks work time to fulfill. That is very consequential and over broad.

As for my other questions you still have not answered them.
Did you ever file suit to obtain the letter?
Why did you and the Register publish information that you knew was false and inaccurate?

THED0N

http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.g...
If you truly don't like what the Chief of PC is doing then it is up to you to make the difference. File the complaint with Ohio Attorney General. If there are enough complaints it will force there hand. Its your rights! The Chief runs a police department not your freedoms as an Tax Paying American!

THED0N

http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.g...
I filed my complaint in 3 minutes online.

Matt Westerhold

The Register notified the Ohio AG's public records mediation service on Saturday of the alleged violations. 

Julie R.

@THEDON: Hey, thanks for that info. I see one can even report scams to the OAG ...... and I sure have enough proof of all the illegal scams that the two courts on the 2nd floor of the corrupt Erie County courts pulled off!

jimmydecant

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

Commenter

Matt Westerhold, is this true?

asweetnessabove

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

safecracker2

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

Matt Westerhold

Three 'off-topic comments have been removed about one commenter's personal memory when the commenter allegedly worked at the Register. The information he provided was not related to this article and was not accurate.   

jhelle

The real problem here is that when the Register or other news agencies go to the other surrounding police agencies in the area that agency just hands them a stack of "media release" reports for their person to pilfer through and read. This is because news agencies such as this one would look at the blotter, and instead of doing some work and requesting specific reports they would just request every report. It became easier for the police agency, who has a real purpose, to just hand an entire stack of reports out instead of spending substantial time searching and printing each report.

This isn't a problem in nature, except that they expect every department to roll over in this instance. Port Clinton P.D. clearly does not conform to this, which is well within their right. Port Clinton clearly does not dispute the right and ability to receive police reports, but rather this news agency doesn't want to spend the time doing a Request for Information for the information. It doesn't even sound like you would have to do a formal filing, rather just request the specific report.

If we want to quote the Freedom of Information Act, that act requires governmental agencies to provide unclassified information to the public (in layman's terms). It also requires the public to meet stringent requirements, which may also include filing the CORRECT REQUEST PAPERWORK and MAKING PAYMENT for copies prior to receiving copies of the reports.

In essence, you could just fill out a request, and pay for the copies of the police reports. Would save alot of hours on your end.

Peninsula Pundit

You have to remember the time he showed up for a retirement party for the retiring chief's looking like Don the scruffly beachcomber.
He showed no respect for the chief's position then, but you folks at the Register better Respect His Authority Now!

Peninsula Pundit

"We, the public, are informed and you inform us how you see fit," Courtney Dorreman posted......
She probably thought she was demonstrating what a Great American she is.....
A truly sad commentary on the state of American Citizenship in America today.

Centauri

"We, the public, are informed and you inform us how you see fit,"

How informed are the people in Port Clinton? I read some of the Port Clinton Police Facebook comments and just shake my head with sadness. Some of these people never bothered to read what is on the Port Clinton Police online site.

Port Clinton's streets are a joke. Some look like part of a war zone. Where is the money for street repair? Why does the police have two water patrol boats and cruise the waters of Lake Erie beyond the city limits? How much money do the tax payers of Port Clinton pay beyond what the grants provided?

http://www.portclintonpd.org/Pat...
"Marine Patrol"

There sure is a lot of duplication of water patrols on Lake Erie. 2 boats, 18 officers patrol all the way to the Canadian border and other points. How much do the citizens of Port Clinton pay beyond what the grants provide?

Centauri

http://www.ottawacountysheriff.i...
"The Ottawa County Sheriffs Office has received our yearly Marine Patrol grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft. The amount, $32,000.00, is the largest amount we have received in several years. Those monies, along with donations from the Catawba Island and Danbury Township Trustees, will fund our Marine Patrol"

The Brownie Elf

Maybe I'm ignorant to the whole Erie county way of thinking. But growing up in Cuyahoga county and now living in Medina county, I have never seen anything like this. I've never seen the Plain Dealer, multiple Post's or the Gazette in Medina raise a public outcry over public records' requests. There just seems to be a lack of professionalism with raising this issue in your own paper. Go through the proper AG channels (which it looks like you did) and go from there.

Julie R.

You grew up in Cuyahoga County and you never saw the Plain Dealer raise a public outcry over a public records request? Considering all the corruption that went on in that despicable county for close to 20 years, we already know that.

The Brownie Elf

No, I never did. I'm guessing if they did and didn't get a copy, they went through the proper channels and did not write an article complaining about it.

Julie R.

Remember how the crook Russo testified that the only time they ever worried about getting caught was when reporters from the Plain Dealer came snooping around asking too many questions and requesting public documents? Remember how he said that's when they got busy shredding the documents?

The Brownie Elf

No.

Centauri

I did a background check on some of the people posting comments in support of withholding public records on the Port Clinton Police Facebook page. Very interesting.

"I've never seen the Plain Dealer, multiple Post's or the Gazette in Medina raise a public outcry over public records' requests"

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/...
"Cleveland is slow releasing public records; Columbus often responds immediately"

http://clevelandheights.patch.co...
"The Plain Dealer: Cleveland Heights Denies Plain Dealer's Records Request"

I could go on with the links but I don't want to trip the SPAM filter.

The Brownie Elf

And for some of you can easily quote the ORC which governs public information, maybe you should also be able to quote the laws pertaining to your own conduct. It seems like a lot of people come on here to bash law enforcement probably because you got popped with a speeding ticket or that possession when you had that bag of dope in your center console. Take responsibility for your own actions and don't always blame the police.

Centauri

"And for some of you can easily quote the ORC which governs public information, maybe you should also be able to quote the laws pertaining to your own conduct."

Which Ohio laws did I violate?

The Brownie Elf

That wasn't directed towards anyone specifically. But I don't know, have you ever broken a law?

Centauri

"That wasn't directed towards anyone specifically. But I don't know, have you ever broken a law?"

Except for one exception, I was the one providing the ORC. Nope, I have broken no laws. I have been harassed by rogue cops. Are you a cop? Which Ohio laws were broken if your comment was not directed to me? Point out which comments by me or others violated Ohio laws?

The Brownie Elf

My comment was not directed towards anyone or any comment. If you think it's targeting you, my apologies. My history with the people who base their negative opinions on law enforcement usually have broken a law and refuse to take the consequences. They then proceed to news sites or social media sites and write their opinions on how they were wronged. If you have never broken a law, very good. I have broken several, not serious but I have.

Centauri

Inflated police blotter items?

https://www.facebook.com/pages/P...
"Chief’s Blotter – Sunday, June 16th, 2013" Maybe that is the Chief's Blotter and not the official Port Clinton Police blotter.

I see a lot of "fill in" items like security checks and other "fill in" items which are part of the police duties. These are not crime or traffic items.

Here are some Port Clinton police blotter items as reported in the Port Clinton News-Herald April, 16, 2013 which was a Tuesday.

Sunday 15 items
Saturday 18 items
Friday 8 items

I see no "fill in" items like business security checks, media requests, summons, warrants and other items that the Chief included in his Chief's Blotter which was 4 days to inflate the number of items on the police blotter. You people in Port Clinton are so gullible.

Centauri

The Brownie Elf
Wed, 08/22/2012 - 5:57pm
Ok, how about this. If every government official is crooked and the police are only out to kill people, move! It sounds like a lot of people on here want to start a militia and uprise against our horrible government and police. But you are able to type on your computer and express your thoughts and I assume work for a living while living under this horrendous government.

Why should people move? How about putting the corrupt people into prison?

The Brownie Elf
Wed, 08/22/2012 - 6:00pm
Or better yet, take the next civil service test or federal law enforcment test and do the job yourself. Everyone has a idea of how they would do the job better but instead like to get on newspaper websites and Monday morning quarterback.

I know some good and honest cops and federal agents. The rogue cops go after the honest ones. Sandusky, Ohio once had a very honest police chief. How did you do on your civil service test?

The Brownie Elf

Ok, become a police officer or become involved in federal law enforcement and put the rogue officers away. I had no need to take a civil service test.

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