Kelleys Island police 'hostile' and 'aggressive'

Matt Westerhold
Aug 1, 2012


Below is a copy of a letter the Register received on Tuesday forwarded to us by state Rep. Dennis Murray Jr.

I'm not surprised by the description this woman provides concerning her unfortunate encounter with a Kelleys Island police officer, given KI police chief Ron Ehrbar's past responses to concerns raised by other vistors to the island. The police officer was "hostile and aggressive," according to the letter-writer, and "the infraction and his description of it are both fabrications."

The Register will seek to report on this incident further and ask for all public records related to it and to the island ticketing system that allows for a $245 fine for a minor traffic infraction.


July 30, 2012

Mayor Kyle Paine
Police Chief Ron Ehrbar
Village of Kelley’s Island
PO Box 469
Kelley’s Island, Ohio  43438

Dear Mayor Paine and Chief Ehrbar:

As I am sure you are both aware, I was stopped and cited by Officer Shawn Craig on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at approximately 11 am in the state park. Officer Craig indicated I had run a stop sign, his words were “plowed through the stop sign and almost hit” his cruiser.  The infraction and his description of it are both fabrications.

I have been visiting Kelley’s Island for many years.  This trip I was accompanied by my sister (she is a 61 year-old public school teacher) and my brother-in-law (a 59 year-old Episcopalian priest).  I am a 58 year-old long-time state employee (a legislative aide).  Officer Craig was hostile and aggressive.  I am not sure what prompted his behavior; I did not argue with the citation nor did anyone else in the car even speak to him.  

I was shocked to learn that the price of the ticket was $245; the same fine for driving with an open container.  According to the website of Jeff Raynard, an attorney, the average traffic fine in Ohio is $90 to $130.  I was even more surprised to learn that my only recourse was to appear in your mayor’s court which is today, at 2 pm. Securing overnight accommodations and taking another day off work would incur  far more expense than the $245 fine; a fact which your village is quite aware of.  Your obvious intention is to trap the tourists, slap them with an exorbitant fine and make the appeal process next to impossible.

The purpose of this trip with my family was to explore purchasing vacation property on the island. Obviously we have changed our mind.  My sister and her husband couldn’t leave the island quickly enough.  I will not be returning.

I have paid the fine.  And though I am intelligent enough to realize withholding my vacation dollars and even the potential purchase of real estate isn’t going to make a significant dent in the Kelley’s Island economy, I plan to fully exercise my First Amendment right.  The attached sheet shows the people, agencies and businesses with whom I have shared my very disheartening experience with your law enforcement agency.

Cheryl L. George



You go girl!!!


If this happened to me, the Jet Express couldn't get me off the island fast enough.  Maybe this is the newest wave of how communities will be able to raise needed funding...over fining.


WHOA......I thought speed traps and excessive fines, etc. were outlawed in this State?  Is that not the case?  Or is there a hole in that umbrella over Kelley's Island?


  I am a very, very moderate drinker.  This said, there is not one attraction on any of the islands that is worth ther hassle or expense of visiting them.  Short boat ride, something to eat, and a couple drinks, you had better be prepared for a couple hundred.  It's a good place for Law Enforcement Training.  We get to separate the good from the bad quite early.  The highest this guy will go is a Kindergarten Kelly's Island Cop.  His fate is sealed with the complaints against Him.


The biggest problem is simple, MAYORS COURT.  No oversight, no limits, free reign.



I wouldn't automatically believe the letter writers story.  The fact that she couldn't get through the letter without name/career title dropping (I'm a legislative aide for the State) (Priest) (School Teacher) makes it somewhat obvious that she may not be telling the truth.  The only time people name and title drop is if they think their position (legislative aide, probably works for politicians in the statehouse) will give them enough clout to get one over.

Finn Finn

Yeah KnuckleDragger, I was kind of thinking the same thing.  This woman obviously has a very high opinion of herself.  Perhaps this Officer didn't show enough deference to what she considers her ELEVATED STATUS, and she got miffed?    ^_^


Knuckle:   I'm quite sure Ms. George was only trying to say that she and the family members with her were not a bunch of marauding thugs out to break the laws of Kelley's Island.

Even if she had run the stop sign,  to be fined $245.00 is outrageous!!   EZOB is right though, Put-In-Bay and Kelley's Island is the place to find the rookies fresh out of the academy who are earning the whopping minimum wage yet think they're the crime fighters par excellence.

I applaud Ms. George for at the very least, bringing this matter to the forefront.


I don't think the letter writer was "name-dropping" by mentioning the occupations of her group. Rather, she was establishing credibility by informing the reader that they quite obviously are upstanding, contributing members of society.  To me, it was important to know that they weren't the typical beer-swilling twenty- somethings who ran afoul of law enforcement authories on the islands, and this made their letter all the more believeable.   

It's not surprising, of course, that Knuckle would discount a letter written by a state employee on behalf of her friend, a union-member school teacher. At the end of the day, the only thing obvious to me is that Knuckle's biased viewpoint colored the way he interpreted the article...


I have never been to Kelley's Island and will probably never go now that I have read this letter.  I hope that this letter will change something there including officers and fine amounts.  I would imagine other tourists have experienced similar events and should now speak up.  Small town power needs knocked off their towers.


Good Job Dennis and Matt for brining this out !!

digger nick
If you think Kelly's Island is bad don't even think of going to Put-in-Bay. Those clowns they call police officers don't have the sense god gave a goose. They make up the rules as they go along and a pet monkey has more training than most of them. While it's true they are all making a tad more than minimum wage, and they are the ones nobody else would hire, they should still know the law.   It's high time someone did a little digging into this corrupt system. 

  I think all the occupants used good common sense.  Had any of them offered an opinion it would have cast a lot of negativity had any of them been charged.  The fact that each remained silent  showed good common sense and it was due to the educational level of each one of them.  I suspect their IQ levels are far higher than the arresting officer.


did this high and mighty soul ever think that she might have gotten a wreckless opp? that will run someone about $250.  Looks like she did not do her homework.  get a life cheryl. we dont want you living or vacationing on kelly's anyway.

Good 2 B Me

The thing is the "High and Mighty" and "Above the Law" thinking that MOST police get when they get a badge. Watch them drive. No turn signals, texting and driving. Usuing the in car computer while driving.  Turning lights on to run a red light, then turning them off. Tailgating, with the intentions of trying to make you screw up. Racial Profiling. Not to mention the Speeding that they do.

I am related to a police officer and believe me, they judge based on the appearance of a person. Judging a book by its cover has never been a good way to operate, yet it happens every day and night.

The small, "one horse" towns in our area are full of this behavior. Look at how Milan has been run for so long. The GOB's in Sandusky and Huron. Perkins thinks it needs a SWAT team mentality. I remember the days when we taught our children to go to a Police Officer if they are in need. Now, the kids either are scared of what the cops will do, even if they are not doing anything wrong or they don't trust them.

It is truly a sad time for the younger generations that we will eventually leave to deal with this mess.

As for the letter, I also believe that she was not Name Dropping, she was clearly attempting to show the integrity of the people involved in this situation.


@Grizzly - Not sure why you call her high and mighty or why you think she might get a 'reckless opp". Sounds like you might write from experience about the reckless opp.

Her letter does not appear to be pretentous so get off your own high and mighty high chair. You can either  either agree or disagree without calling her names.  There is no need for your self rightous comment.

Looks like you missed some homework yourself. It's Kelleys, not kelly's. Perhaps you should learn how to spell it, especially since you appear to have made yourself the island representative.

We have personally experienced the snotty cops standing around downtown and fyi- no alcohol was involved. We did notice how friendly the cops were to the drunk girls.

It appears the writer is articulate and would be a welcome addition to the island. You, on the other hand.......



KnuckleDragger, interesting and somewhat revealing username.

Amazing how he can tell someone is lying by one's work status, one's education  and one's friends. Educated, intelligent people, therefore liars? "SOMEWHAT OBVIOUS that she MAY NOT be telling the truth." Obvious to whom? The other knuckle draggers?

Sighing and shaking my head.



 Not surprising that a traffic violator denies the offense.  I don't know Craig, however with all the violations on the island it's hard to believe he would pick a car with 3 retirees in to pick on. 

Craig does not set the fines or the court procedure. I am not sure but I would believe he isn't really concerned about tourist dollars. There however was a Ohio Supreme Court decision that opined that Mayors Court is a conflict of interest because the fines go into the village cofers so the Mayor would have a stake in the outcome of the hearing. 

If Craig was rude, that issue should be addressed, do they have cruiser cameras?  If he fabricated the offense he shoulld be fired, really doubt that happened.  He is not responsible for the fine, mayors court, or procedures. 

Telling her she blew through the stop sign and nearly hit my cruiser, doesn't sound that rude to me, he was probably concerned.  I understand the lady is upset over the price of the ticket but it's not the cops fault. 

I also see the Mr. Westerhold continues to use his newspaper to bias his readers against the police by publishing a compaint about a traffic violation, not really normal practice is it Matt, but I guess as a journalist you only want to keep your readers unbiasely informed(sarcasm noted).  Hey I have an idea have Bickley back on "Between the Lies" and get his unbiased views on it. 




We know the officer. He was probably irritated because he had to get off his behind.  Hopefully he was at least dressed in uniform and not those sweats he's known to wear. There is an upcoming levy where police services are threatened to be cut so maybe he feels he must prove his fulltime status. Or perhaps he needed to get his quota given the overly zealous recent actions of the other cops he figured he better get his 'numbers' up.

Mayors court is not run by the mayor although it is held on the island. 

Why is a village cop sitting in the state park anyhow? isn't law enforcement managed by the State Ranger?



So just becasue this lady runs a stop sign, this gives her the right to be treated poorly and have to pay an outrageous fine? The problem is these "island cops" think they know it all, wither it be Put In Bay or Kelleys. The quility of officers hired is based on who the chief wants to hire, maybe the island should look at the chief and start from the top and work there way down. Last year a dipatcher (who is underage) and officer get into accidents the same night and are found to be drinking and driving . It is always nice to visit the island on a Friday or Saturday night and see the officers either standing at the cornor or infront of a bar talking to girls! Maybe the state should step in and look into how the police department and mayors court are being operated. Yes the register is always posting negitive about area police departments, but if they didn't people wouldn't really know what goes on, no city or village wants negitive press.


Hey-----that COP gave her a break....  She should have gotten a ticket for no INSURANCE also. Matt you need to check into the facts before they are printed.


Man I miss the days of KI Chief Charley Moore & his sidekick Norbie!  It used to be Kelleys Island...Keep It a Secret. That secret wasn't kept and unfortunatly the island will never be the same.


Man I miss the days of KI Chief Charley Moore & his sidekick Norbie!  It used to be Kelleys Island...Keep It a Secret. That secret wasn't kept and unfortunatly the island will never be the same.