Updated With City's Saturday Press Release: Hamilton Pleads Not Guilty To Obstructing Official Business And Persistent Disorderly Conduct UPDATED With WKYC And Fox 8 Video

Bryan Dubois
Mar 23, 2010

 

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The "official business" Hamilton was allegedly obstructing must've been the purposeful neglect of city parks in order to justify raising taxes on city residents.  (Because you know how much city officials like to believe that low revenue is the reason for the budget deficit - not wasteful spending.)

WKYC was just in town covering the story.  Sandusky is always in the news for such positive stories!

Let's go down to the city building!  I'm sure someone down there will talk to you!

After several unanswered phone calls to the city of Sandusky by the WKYC crew, I placed a call to city commissioner Dan Kaman who agreed to come down for an interview.

WKYC's piece:

 Fox 8 News clip here.

The story was picked up by CNN and the Washington Post:

How about a movement to get these charges dismissed?  Start suggesting it to people you talk to and spread the word.  We understand there are liability issues with mowing the city's grass - but Hamilton should not carry around a criminal record for showing initiative on a problem that effects everyone.  The city needs to give the guy a break.

UPDATE Saturday May 30th:   The city has sent out a reactionary press release in response to the national press coverage they received following the arrest of John Hamilton:  (The red boxes below are just my notes.)

If you have any questions about what went down at the scene of the arrest, read the arrest report posted below.  Today I heard people falsely claim that Hamilton became "belligerent" with the officers at some point and that's the real reason he was arrested.  Well, here's the arrest report - and you'll notice there's nothing in here about any so called "belligerence."

Nevertheless, the city is reiterating this false claim that Hamilton was not arrested for mowing the park.  Look at the red box at the bottom of page two of their press release:

The city is embarassed that their police officers handled the situation with an arrest and criminal charges.  They don't know what else to do than to spin the reason Hamilton was arrested.

For clarity:  John Hamilton was criminally charged for mowing the public park.  Officers told him to stop mowing the public park and he refused to stop mowing the public park.  He was therefore charged with "persistent disorderly conduct."

The city's argument will go something like this:  "Hamilton wasn't charged for mowing the public park - he was charged for not listening to the officers who told him to stop."

By this rationale - if a police officer comes up to you and tells you to stop jumping rope in your front yard and you refuse to stop, the officer can then charge you with  "persistent disorderly conduct" for not obeying his orders.  If you take this outrageous story to the media and claim that you were criminally charged for "jumping rope in your front yard" the city would claim that your statement was not accurate because technically that's not really why you were charged.  You were charged for not listening to the officer who told you to stop jumping rope in your front yard. 

Tedious?

Yes, but that's what this argument boils down to.  The city can't take it's lumps for a bad decision, so now they're making it worse by trying to spin their way out of it.

Just so I'm not accused of "sensationalism" or leaving out information - I'll include the last page of the city's press release:

See, they're already suggesting that the charges should be dropped.  By the way:  Who's "politicizing" this process?  The public is rightfully outraged that this guy was criminally charged for cutting the grass.  He was handcuffed and placed into a cruiser - which is one of the most demeaning and embarassing things that you can do to somebody in public if you're a police officer.  He was arrested for mowing a public park - because as you'll notice in the police report - it was 12 INCHES HIGH.  If you didn't catch that, I'll repost it here, because even the police officers believed it was a noteworthy circumstance because they included it in their arrest report:

From the SR forums:

That got me thinking:

Let's play a little game here.  We'll call it, "How would you have handled it?"  It's a role playing game.  Pretend that you're the police officer coming onto the scene.  After everybody tells you what's going on, how would you deal with the situation?  I already posted how I would've handled it in the comment section.

Let's see if we can come up with something better than, "Arrest him, handcuff him, stuff him in the cruiser."

Comments

hilltop

Whoa, I guess the City of Sandusky didn't get the memo . . . .

Tall grass breeds rats and rats don't vote (or pay taxes.)

Maybe the City wants to sell Central Park to a developer or call the entire neighborhood "blighted" so they can take all the adjacent property and install a new inland "historic" marina district. 

 

MauiDoug

That's one of the most disgusting stories I've read this year.  Congratulations Sandusky for being the morons of the world this week.

kimberleysue2009

Not only should the cops be fired, what about the city workers who called to complain that someone was mowing the city grass?  I wonder how much time they spent on the phone explaining that they were complaining that someone was mowing city grass when they could have picked up a broom and or pulled out their lawnmowers and assisted this gentleman?

This gentleman decided to take action when he could have called the city to complain about the tall grass time and time again.  I certainly would reconsider my vote for the judge that is going to convict "grass mower".  I will  be watching for this case to be thrown out of court!

 

What a waste of time, money and effort!

 

 

 

another taxpaye...

As I was watching the Fox 8 news clip, my five year old son said, "I don't get it Mommy.  Why did they arrest that man?  He was just tryin' to be helpful."

I was at a loss.  How do you explain civil disobedience to a child?

At least now I know to call the city building before picking up a stray piece of garbage.  (I probably wouldn't be able to see it in foot high grass anyway.)  I wouldn't want to complicate Mr. Kline's labor issues.  He was talking about doing HIS job wasn't he?

ctoy

First of all let me start by saying that Penny does NOT work in Forestry. She is one of 3 employees who mow the parks. She was notified that someone was mowing Central Park. When she arrived there she talked to Mr. Hamilton and asked him to stop mowing because it was going to be mowed that day. He was throwing grass into the streets and all over the sidewalks. He was running over the trash and making a mess. All he was doing was making  more of a mess than actually helping. When he kept mowing she called the Police to have him stop mowing. After that it was out of her hands. When your kids play ball at Dorn, Amvets, or Sprau parks, do you know who maintains those fields? Those 3 employees. When the citizens complain about their neighbors grass is too tall, do you know who comes to mow it? Those 3 employees. With that said i feel they have there hands full and are doing the best they can with 3 people.

SanduskyVoter

Why don't they sell the park areas to people that will care for them and then the city could get taxes from the owners.  If you don't have the people to do the work, cut the work for the people to do.

Bryan Dubois

If I was the cop who responded to that call, I would've asked my partner, "How long do you think it would take to pick up the trash in front of the mower?  That way he doesn't run any of it over...let's help him out..."  My partner probably would've laughed and then said, "yeah, let's do it...."  and then you would've had two cops walking through the park picking up the trash in front of Hamilton as he rode through the park on his privately owned lawnmower.

Then you walk back over to Hamilton, give him your card and say, "John, I'm sure the city appreciates what you're doing, but as you know there are some liability issues here that need to be hammered out before you start mowing.  We got the trash out of your way this time and we're going to let it slide this once - if you can guarantee us that you'll contact the city manager's office before you mow out here again..."

Hamilton probably would've agreed - and then thanked the officers for the help.

Cops laugh it off, explain it to their supervisor.

End of situation.

John Doe

Gee, when I mow my grass, grass clippings, and even trash gets thrown onto the sidewalk and even out into the street (with cops driving down my street while I do it too!).   That's why I wait to make sure traffic goes by before I continue mowing.   BIG DEAL   Who hasn't done that?  That''s why I don't buy that argument by the city.  They are really grasping for the rope on this one and I'll bet they'll end up getting hung by it too.

Darkhorse

I agree with what you stated should have been done, however, we all know our police are too ignorant to think of this all by themselves. No one in this town should ever volunteer to help out this town again until this Kline person is fired and replaced. I have volunteered many time to help pick up the trash and cigarette butts in our parks and I have seen many times where the city crew who cut the grass did not pick up before they cut it. I have found glass, cut up paper, plastic, you name it after the crew left. I will never help this city again.

Butch403

Take the guy to court for doing the city a favor.....Lay off some more employees Kline! You should go back to where you came from. I was going to volunteer to do weeding and trimming but not now after the low-down way you are handling the Central Park situation.

Kline and his few supporters need to get on the boat to Canada and don't come back!

To top this off, let it be known that a relative of ours in Conneticut heard about the lawn mowing incident on their local news. Pretty ridiculous how a stupid event like this can make national news when it should have never happened in the first place!

Karl Hungus-Mr....

Although I do not agree with the outcome, the cop handled this situation the best he could.  Sandusky police do not "ride with partners" and rely on their supervisors guidance..  All the LEO on the scene really could have done is follow his boss's advice and hope that court system does the right thing. 

Also people seem to forget that the real reason that this incident became such a mess is because Mr. Hamilton was caught by a union member doing union work.  I am sure that she was agast that someone was "taking union work away from her".  Being that the police are also union I sure that the police officer felt some pressure there as well.

I feel bad for the officer as he was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

To make a long story short, the officer is not the bad guy here, and neither is Mr. Hamilton.

Bryan Dubois

Karl,  the responding police officer is not required to make an arrest.  He has this thing called "discretion."  Are you trained in police work?  I've taken courses and I know people who are trained police.  Highly trained officers understand that they're are extensions of local government.  They are public servants.  They can exercise discretion to avoid PR blunders like this.  The fact of the matter is that your community will face problems like this if their officers are not trained to think about how their actions are perceived by the public.  Of course Sandusky's cops aren't "bad."  They're simply undertrained and they have poor leadership.  Until Sandusky owns up to their problems, they will continue.

Take, for example, Charlie Sams' explanation to Fox 8 News about why the arrest occurred:

Sams basically says that Hamilton was arrested for not complying with the officer's orders.  Never mind the fact that Hamilton wasn't doing anything illegal.  This is akin to an officer coming up to you on your sidewalk and telling you to stop playing with your kids.  You refuse because you're not doing anything illegal - and then he arrests you on the grounds that you didn't follow his orders.

Does that make sense to you?

Karl Hungus-Mr....

It makes perfect sense why the officer made the arrest, it was an order given to him by a supervisor.

Read the arrest report, it clearly states that the officer's supervisor, as I stated, gave the order to arrest Mr. Hamiltion.  The LEO on the scene was following his orders, that is his job which I am sure he wants to keep. 

Yes, I have worked as a LEO locally (although it was 8 years ago) and I have made arrests.  Trust me unless it is something blatant you do not do these things with out direction from the shift supervisor.  If you watch COPS you will notice that 90% off arrests are not made untill a sift supervisor is on scene, or has atleast been contacted.

Like I said the arresting officer is not the bad guy here, he was put in a tough spot and did what he had to do.  That is half the reason I left law enforcement, people think they understand, but it is not like you see on tv.

John Doe

Sorry Karl, I don't buy that.  If he was actually doing something against the law - illegal, then the cops would have had reason to ask him to stop.  And if he didn't, then they could have arrested him.

However, he was not doing anything against the law or illegal so the cops had no right to ask him to stop.  They should have just let him go and put on the report that Mr. Hamilton was not doing anything wrong.

I love 411's analogy where if I were in my front yard playing with my grandkids and a cop comes along and tells me to stop, why should I?  I'm not doing anything but playing with my grandkids.  Mr. Hamilton was just mowing the lawn.  The police had no reason to ask him to stop to begin with.

What are the cops going to tell us to stop doing next?  Playing with our kids/grandkids?  mowing our own lawns?  doing yard work?  painting our homes? 

 

What will be next?

Exxcellent

I think the city wants us to think they are in such bad shape financially, that we will fall for their ploy to pass some new levies in the fall.  Warner already tried to get a fee onto our water bill for leaf pick up. You watch. They will cry that there is no money for services like this unless we agree to new taxes. Don't forget in November, that they hired a part time employee to duplicate services already paid for, at the rate of $90,000/year.

Karl Hungus-Mr....

Maybe I need to word this differently, because people do not seem to understand what I am saying. 

I am not saying that I agree with the fact that Hamilton was arrested.  I am not saying that he was arrested.  What I am saying is do not make the arresting officer (the lowest man on the totem pole out to be the bad guy here.  He was doing what he was ordered to do.  Instead of blaming the arresting officer look more at Cottril (the supervisor that gave the order to arrest Hamilton)

This officer was not some renegade cop trying to start trouble, he was dispatched to Central Park and followed orders.  Instead of focusing on the cop on the scene, focus on those above him.