Opinion: Keeping it secret in Perkins Twp.

Matt Westerhold
Dec 6, 2012

If you had passed out while in your car waiting in the drive-through line at the Taco Bell, chances are local police would have tracked you down and filed a police report regarding their interaction with you. 

But two weeks after an alleged incident involving a high-profile Perkins Township employee -- a police officer -- there still is no report detailing what happened in the wee hours overnight on  Thanksgiving.
 
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Click here to take the poll: Should the police department release the report?
 
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Police chief Ken Klamar promised the reports would be released on Thursday, but he went back on his word citing the advice of the township's part-time law director. Klamar suggested the reports were being withheld in compliance with the Ohio Revised Code, but he could not remember what portion of the law was being used to block public access to the facts.
 
Klamar also suggested the Fraternal Order of Police union has some standing in deciding whether a public record is a public record. 
 
He also said the reporter should contact the law director, John Coppeler, for additional information. The reporter did that but Coppeler was not picking up his phone after a marathon closed-door meeting with trustees on Thursday. The public was barred from the meeting and it has been barred for two weeks now from knowing what happened. It's a secret. 
  
"I can only say that I feel John Coppeler is doing his normal good job for Perkins Township," trustee Mike Printy wrote in an email in response to an editorial in the Register on Monday. 
 
 

Comments

SamAdams

There's no excuse for keeping all of this information secret. I'd be willing to bet there's also not anything in the Ohio Revised Code that would permit such a thing, either.

This is a clearcut case of Perkins Police and Perkins Township playing a game of CYA. The biggest problem is that there's no need. The officer in question made an extraordinarily bad judgment call, but she wasn't on duty at the time and so it's difficult to imagine just how it would be that the Township would bear responsibility for that lack of judgment.

The worst part is that we all know (or think we know) what happened. If there really IS some reason for the ongoing CYA efforts, it would better serve both the police and the Township administrators to provide factual information rather than let the rest of us speculate. In fact, the longer this information is withheld, the more rampant speculation will become. And guess what?

This case originally involved an off-duty officer who apparently did a really stupid (and illegal) thing. Now? Now we're babbling about cover-ups and the withholding of public information in disregard to Sunshine and other similar laws concerning public records and the meetings of public officials. Guys? Y'all would have looked a whole lot better if you'd just acknowledged what happened in the first place!

JohnDorian12

This is a simple case of Chief Klamar wanting to get his facts sraight before the Register has the chance to distort them. There is no cover up, you morons watch WAY to much TV!!

Darkhorse

Silence means no accountability. They probably don't know what happened and they are trying to find out just what occurred.

Darkhorse

Silence means no accountability. They probably don't know what happened and they are trying to find out just what occurred.

Centauri

Public records?

http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.g... Ohio's CCW law. For shame Matt, for shame. Who had the photographic memory?

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/149.43
“Public record” does not mean any of the following: (h) Confidential law enforcement investigatory records.

Matt needs to wait for the police investigation to be over.

If you don't like the laws of Ohio, change them. Attorney Buff can explain the public records laws further. Dwarf star?

The Sandusky Register could do some investigative reporting into Julie R's probate problems in corrupt Erie County, Ohio. Julie has already posted the numbers to public records documents so it should be very easy for a news story.

In fact, corrupt Erie County has all kinds of public records available of the powers that be showing their past work for all to see.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comment Centauri, but the Ohio Revised Code is pretty clear when it comes to withholding public records. All the law director has to do is cite the particular exemption he is relying upon to block public access to the information. It's not that difficult to cite the specific exemption, and it is required by law that it be cited. 

Centauri

@ Matt, If a police investigation is still ongoing, then I agree with you that a section of Ohio's law should have been given and the law director should had cited the section of Ohio's law. A reason for withholding the information should have been given to you and your reporters.

Centauri

@ Matt, Ohio's laws are never clear. Why do Ohio's court cases go onto the OSC and beyond? Ohio is a very corrupt state.

Centauri

I thought that Illinois was worse than Ohio. I am wrong.

Kimo

Re: "I can only say that I feel John Coppeler is doing his normal good job for Perkins Township," trustee Mike Printy wrote in an email in response to an editorial in the Register on Monday.

If Mr. Coppeler is "part time" , then I would have to agree with Mr. Printy.

Part time is part time, not full time. Takes longer for a part time employee to cover all the bases.

Kimo

Re: "the law director should had cited the section of Ohio's law."

Who talked to the law director and when? Who said what?

mrmorency

So... get mad because you didn't get the info you want or get mad because you weren't "specifically told why" you didn't get the information you want? The article makes you sound bitter for not getting it. Once you were told of the law, your comment makes it sound like you're bitter because you weren't explicitly told why you didn't get the info. This is exactly why you were told to wait until all the facts were gathered before you try to sway the opinion. You're the perfect example of a hate monger. Stir the pot, Matt, stir it real good.

Dont Worry Be Happy

Mrmorency your post was delightful. In a sentence Westerhold says the FOP union does not want things relealesed just yet. So basically if the twp speaks that could set them up for failure against their client.

I will never understand Westerhold, this is the town he lives in and is always bashing it and the people that are trying to make it better.

Good 2 B Me

It is Matt's job to print the news, no matter who is resposible for being the headliner!

Dont Worry Be Happy

I don't care who is in the headline but if the union asked it not to be released yet because they need to check on things vice versa then why try to bash people....because he didn't get the answers he wanted now. Sounds like both sides need to look into things then they will meet again and inform the public. I'm patient enough to wait on the whole truth of the story. It will all come out soon.

Ithink

Because if this was John Doe, some poor, hapless, working resident of the township, you bet your sweet bippy they would be singing like canaries--that's why. Why all the clandestine talks? Because she is a COP, that's why. Any other regular citizen wouldn't have the same privileges and privacies. How did she get home? Why are 2 on-duty police officers whereabouts for a brief block of time not documented? I smell cover-up--but what's new?

underthebridge

The Ohio Open Records laws REQUIRE the specific reasons for denying the release of the records to be cited in writing. It isn't a matter of bitterness. It is about requiring public officials to comply with the law.

Good 2 B Me

I salute you Matt. Kepp digging!

JIMBO2

Perkins Pd probably doesn't want to be the pd of choice to be your new whipping boy. So they will get the answers they need before giving the Register squat.

G George I du kno

Despite what I may think of Perkins PD and their Chief, atleast he sticks up for his people! Unlike Lang who hangs all his officer's out to dry! So Westerdummy, if they aren't releasing anything how did you get the information to print your first two articles? Or were you just making stuff up again? I don't assume you will answer those two questions!

luvblues2

I wouldn't answer you either George. It was in the manner that you posted and asked, which is why.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more; it is a tale tole by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing!”

Quote is from Macbeth which I would NOT recommend anyone to read except to garner quotes and understand them. Shakespeare used too many freakin' words.

Darkhorse

There are laws but do the entities follow the law? The entities try to work around the loop holes of the law. As for the statement the Perkins trustee made, he was stalling so he could come up with a better answer of which he doesn't have as yet.

luvblues2

Law is all based on interpretation and emotion. There is nothing "concrete" about it. And if there was, "concrete" splits from erosion. The law is something that constantly changes.

buckeye15

Don't let an originalist like my beloved Antonin Scalia hear you say that. His head will explode!

luvblues2

It should.

Cityslicker

Matt lives for opportunities such as this. It is appearent in every article he participates in that includes Police or the City governments.

deertracker

I think some of you are "shooting the messenger" instead of focusing on the message. Matt is just doing his job. If that were you or I passed out drunk you can bet you would be charged. How much investigating is needed when there are so many witnesses including the Chief? This could have turned out very tragic. Sid, you usually have logical posts except where LE is involved. This woman was WRONG and where is the personal responsibility? This whole thing stinks!

G George I du kno

Deertracker, first off if it is proven Kate was driving drunk or drunk when she was at work I have confidence she will be dealt with accordingly. As for shooting the messenger, it is his job to report the facts of the story to the public. However, that is not what this paper does. Westerhold is like a spoiled child! If he doesn't get what he wants, when he wants it, he kicks, screams, cries, and puts his own twist and assumptions on articles.

This paper is based on "Fallacies" one known as "Appeal To Ignorance"! This means they write articles based on the fact that the lack of evidence proves something which it does not. Why not allow the Trustees and Klamar to do their investigation, look at the facts, and make a sound and intelligent decision based on those facts. Once they complete their thorough investigation I am sure we will all be able to read it and make an intellegent decision based on those facts instead of jumping to conclusions based on this biased and fallous paper!

Dont Worry Be Happy

Again well said.

deertracker

Everything you said may or may not be true. I really don't know his train of thought but I don't see where he jumped to any conclusion. I don't have the same confidence in a police dept. doing an internal invetigation as you do. Seems to me this investigation should be completed by now.

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