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.

Julie R.

"Shooting the messenger instead of focusing on the message."

That was excellent.

Imataloss

Wow Register, instead of making rash decisions when it comes to personnel, Perkins Twp. trustees, their police chief, and their attorney are reviewing facts, considering the law and taking time to make a decision PROBABLY SO THEY DON'T GET SUED!!!! Oh wait, if they made a rash decision and GOT SUED, you would sell more papers. The stirring of the pot is unappreciated by most of the Township residents I have spoken to about this issue.

Dont Worry Be Happy

Well said:-)

wiredmama222

At least they are following executive session laws as prescribed. Good for them. They know the law and are following it.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comment Imataloss. You're missing the point, however. The public records law is very clear. All attorney Coppeler or chief Klamar have to do is cite the section of the Ohio Revised Code they are using to deny public access to the public's information. That's required by law and relatively simple to do if there is a legitimate exemption. It seems to me the people we pay to enforce the rules should be required to abide by the rules. It's wrong for Klamar, the custodian of the records, to withhold records by claiming an exemption in the ORC without citing the exemption to which he is referring. It's wrong for him to refer questions to the law director, who refuses to return phone calls or comment on his decision to withhold records. He too should simply provide the exemption in the ORC that justifies his decision. That's not too much to ask.

Dont Worry Be Happy

Call Kate and ask her what's going on she was the one who started this whole thing. Call the FOP union and ask them. I bet you get nothing from them as well. If there is an investagation then let it run its course. Who cares if you didn't get some reverse code both sides are making their case we will all know soon.

wiredmama222

Executive session under the sunshine law, Mr Westerhold. It's very clear under the sunshine law. Executive session under that law forbids them to discuss or give you anything that deals with dealings of administrative and disposition of employee firings or repercussions of an employee. They do not have to give you a thing since they do not keep record of their executive sessions nor recordings.

You should read the new sunshine law is also called the yellow book. you should read that, I have. Interesting reading and very specific on its laws. Especially boards.

luvblues2

:)...Kate is gonna skate.

Kimo

You really should consider using another picture Matt.

I spend way too much time trying to figure out if that's a smile or a smirk.......

deertracker

How you spend your time is ENTIRELY on you!

G George I du kno

I was just reading another article where the Register removed comments based on "Persumption of Guilt". Does this mean they are going to remove their own articles about Kate and the cover up on this same basis? They have based their entire article on persumptions. Mr. Westerhold could you please explain why you can make assumptions but the readers can't?

EdgeOfTheH20

(PRE- » It's presumption)

EdgeOfTheH20

(PRE- » It's presumption)

asweetnessabove

Give him a break. Maybe his fingers were going faster than his brain at the moment. Happens to me a lot, you can't possibly tell me it doesn't happen to you?

safecracker2

I'm guessing they go into a closed door meeting because it's a personnel issue that may involve serious consequences. I'm sure they are getting all the facts and then deciding how to proceed. This isn't a fast food worker,
( no disrespect to any of them. At least they are working. ) but an officer. There are attorneys on both sides that have procedures to follow. Let them do their jobs.

wiredmama222

sunshine laws forbid comments while in executive session and Matt knows that.

safecracker2

Yes mama, you are totally correct! And Matty is salty because discipline is carried out in executive session, behind closed doors, where the Sunshine Law takes effect. So, he has no right to this information as of yet. Instead, he and Emil would rather write "cover-up" and conspiracy articles to get everyone in an uproar crying foul. He'll get his information. When THEY'RE ready. Good grief!

Kilroy

The chief knew she was drunk, he should have just let her begin her drive to work then pulled her over, just like they do everyone else.

If you guys hate Matt W. and the SR so much, why do you keep reading it and making comments?

Dont Worry Be Happy

I don't buy just read what's free:-)

Julie R.

Sounds to me like Klamar citing the O.R.C. but not providing the number of the O.R.C. that proves he can legally deny the media access to public records can only mean one thing --- it doesn't exist. The fact that the law director is also stonewalling the SR should also be proof that it doesn't exist.

mrjsiah

Its just a case of perkins trying to protect its own clear and simple . Im sure we will never know the truth other than what we know she was drunk, fell asleep at a taco bell window, tried to go to work still drunk.

wiredmama222

no, they are in executive session as prescribed by law. They aren't covering up anything. This is how the law works.

wiredmama222

Oh, I see, you can just delete a who comment when you don't like what I say....how nice of you. These guys are in executive session and CANNOT tell you what what they are talking about and you know it, MATT.

Don't try to get what you cannot have under the sunshine law. They just plain cannot give you the info when it comes to disciplining employees until the final results are in no matter how often you call them

No delete me again. Shame on you, Matt. Shame on you. Just argue with me on here and let it run.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comment Wiredmama, but your depth of understanding regarding the issue and the public records law is very limited. The Register has requested the public documents that already exist. We are not asking for information about what might have or might not have occurred in the closed-door trustee meeting.

wiredmama222

Mr Westerhold, you may think it is limited, but not where THIS is concerned. I am VERY WELL VERSED IN DOCUMENTS USED IN EXECUTIVE SESSION, which is something your "crew of people", including Sharon Johnson, at SR may not be despite their expertise in getting documents elsewhere. This is something very different. They may need to bone up on it.

If those documents are being used in an executive session, they do NOT have to turn them over to you until they are finished with them. Did you know that? Those records may be being used at this time by the people in the executive session as part of the disciplinary actions or for decisions being made by those present.

Therefore, if they are being used in ES, they do not need to be turned over to you, even at your request. Therefore, your request is invalid at this point. Perhaps it would be good for you to re read and try to understand better the sunshine laws and the ORC codes.

ES trump any requests for public documents when they are part of the executive sessions, when they are part of the necessary documentation OF that executive session. No exceptions are made during the executive session meeting even for the press.

When a "public document" is paramount to decision making in any disciplinary action being made by any board in an executive session, it becomes PART of that executive session and will be released when the executive session is over and not before.

Therefore you request for that document will not be made available until such time as the executive session has concluded.

I am surprised that you did not know that.

Sorry to disappoint you. I am very well versed in the sunshine laws of the State of Ohio. Especially on Executive Sessions and documentation of same. Sorry to disappoint you and your reporters. But that is the law.

No board, will release them while in ES. None whatsoever. That is the law of Executive Session and that is why you always have trouble getting anything from any ES you try to get something from. Sorry

safecracker2

Matt: 0 - Mama: 1. Sorry Matt, consider yourself "schooled".

asweetnessabove

I friggin' love reading your comments wired. I seriously don't remember ever not agreeing with you. Not to mention, you know your stuff, do your research, and give Westerhold a run for his money. :) he should just give up, he is only making himself and his staff look bad by not knowing what they should know!

rickross2

It seems to me that the people upset about this are Sanduskians who want soooo bad for something negative to go down in Perkins. Dont be jealous because we live on the good side of 8 Mile!

rickross2

rickross2 makes a valid point here. Thanks for the comment good sir :-)

wiredmama222

I will have to second that. They are doing it right.

Julie R.

I know where the SR is coming from when they get stonewalled on a daily basis by attorneys and other public officials. That seems to be the norm in Erie County --- even the courts are good at pulling that crap off. Have we forgotten the most recent case where the Erie County Common Pleas Court dismissed the former Vermilion mayor's lawsuit pertaining to a law firm withholding public records --- the case that she ended up winning when she took it all the way to the Supreme Court?

Julie R.

All the SR asked for was for the attorney and the chief to cite the section of the O.R.C. that they used to deny the information. So why don't they just provide it? Going on the assumption that there really is one, that doesn't sound like too difficult of a task to me.

SRnewsless

Double post

SRnewsless

Just like when you were so mad about not getting the dash cam from Andy dunns murder.

JohnDorian12

LOL, Wanna little cheese with that Wine Matt??? LOL!!!!! Just because the City of Sandusky officials kiss your backside by allowing you to crucify people just because they are a public servant doing a job you could NEVER do, doesnt mean he is being shady, be patient Matt Im SURE you will have plenty of opportunity to destroy Ofc. Barker. I applaud Chief Klamar for showing some restraint! LOL Youre such a joke Matt!!

Ithink

Guess today's front-page article may make you want to eat some of that cheese, JohnDorian12. Klamar may not be shady, but something about this story stinks....like cheese......

sanduskysteve

John - the only person destroying Ofc. Barker, is Ofc. Barker. She violated several laws and should have been arrested - those are facts which are undisputed - so there isn't anything to argue about in those particular incidents. Those are the things that will destroy the officer - Matt had nothing to do with this situation, with her actions, nor did MATT make her do the things she did. I think the big issue in this is not what to do with Ofc. Barker, but more so, what to do about any assistance she received from other officers. Those are the things which are not really known or facts available yet. Barker has cooked her own goose - anyone that may have helped her may have other issues to deal with. It just seems to me that everytime a cop does something stupid (no lack of that activity in the past year) and the SR reports on it, Matt has to take heat from you guys claiming HE is the instigator and should be to blame. When people do something stupid or wrong or illegal - it isn't the paper or an outsider that makes them do it - they do it on thier own. I have repeatedly said that SR wasn't making SPD look bad - SPD was making SPD look bad and Matt was just letting everyone know about it. That's actually his job..... if he didn't report on it - then you all would be saying he is helping the police cover things up. A guy can't win in a situation where he is responsible to report things to the public. And I'm sure he is aware of his unique position which is why some of you are still posting on this site.

Julie R.

Best comment: sanduskysteve

Julie R.

The big problem I see here when it comes to Chief Klamar keeping everything a secret is --- he's acting on the advice of an attorney. That's the worst thing he could do. When it comes to Erie County, attorneys (not to mention the attorneys in the black robes) are the cause of 99% of the train wrecks!

Diane Schaefer

ORC 149.43(A)(1)(h) addresses the confidentiality of 'ongoing Law Enforcement investigations'.

ORC 121.22(G)(1) addresses one of the reasons for holding an executive session as being for "... discipline, dismissal, or investigation of charges...."

To me, while not an attorney, but someone who is trained in the Ohio Public Records Act, I believe Chief Klamar is correct in withholding the investigation report until this truly becomes public. Unfortunately perhaps he should have said 'No comment' when first asked about it and explained that it was an ongoing investigation.

Officer Barker is represented by the FOP. Their contract spells out the steps to be taken for disciplinary action. I do not have a copy of the current contract and cannot address how it might apply.

The Trustees gave proper notification of the Special Meeting held last Thursday for the purpose of the pre-displinary hearing. Presuming that they followed the proper method of going into Executive Session, ORC 121.22(G)(1), this also is exempt for any public records request since executive sessions, by their nature are exempt.

(I might add that this is something that they did not do earlier this year when they terminated the Highway Foreman. While they may have notified the SR of the Special Meeting, they failed to notify ALL INTERESTED PARTIES of the Special Meeting which they are required to do. So they are trying to do it correctly.)

Now IF the request from the SR (and is Andy Ouriel no longer there?) was in writing as requests from journalists are required to be, then the Township should have responded IN WRITING why the records were not available as public records citing the above sections of the ORC.

Diane Schaefer

By the way I am certain there is a better picture of Klamar, or did the reporter just snap this when the Chief wasn't ready.

Darwin's choice

But, But, Matt's from the press, and he's entitled............

Kimo

I served for 12 years in government; I never went against the advice of our solicitor.

That's what you pay him for. How he handles reporters is his decision.

SandTownBry

SRnewsless..Please do not bring up andrew dunn as an example..The reason the dash cam video was never gave to the News Paper is becuse are family didnt want that an asked that the Sandusky Police respect are wishes and not release the Video..thats why Matt never got it..And Andrew worked as A Sandusky officer..He never in a million years whould have worked for Perkins.but on that note thanks.

SRnewsless

My point was that Matt kept insisting on getting access to it. I agree with you and completely respect the family's wishes.

luvblues2

I really cannot understand how anyone can have such opinionated comments and type trash. Help me out here, STB. What's up with you and the English language?

SandTownBry

if u dont like how i type..or what i write then u take the mouse that comes with the computer and u go to the right on the screen and down in the corner theres an arrow that points DOWN! meaning MOVE ON TO THE NEXT IF U DONT LIKE WHAT I SAY OR MY SPELLING OR ANYTHING FOR THAT MATTER.i honestly dont give 2 S**ts .Andrew is my family i will say what i want how i want when it comes to that so once again hit the arrow in the lower right hand corner and move on then..thanks

luvblues2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lis...

There are many tools to help one brush up on the skills of English.

Free online spell checkers here:
https://www.google.com/search?q=...

PS, my mouse did not come with my computer. It's wireless and I paid a few extra more for it. Freedom from wires.

Jack518

As an occasional commenter, but more avid reader, I side with those of you questioning why the officer got a ride home via a Perkin's police officer. The rest of us would be arrested if we sat behind the wheel with the engine running. Now, I do not know if her car was running, but she should have been immediately suspended. If I am wrong in my conclusions, then I apologize to one and all.

As another subject, does anyone KNOW why "wiredmama" has not been on the blogs recently? She has said she has medical issues. I certainly hope it is not the cause of her absence. I enjoy her comments, some I agree with, other times I do not. What I have read recently, I did not read any of her postings that would violate the "rules" of posting on the blogs. So, if wiredmama or anyone knows why she no longer posts, please let me know. Thank you.

Centauri

@ Jack, Wiredmama has been banned.

I too didn't see where any of her postings violated the posting guidelines.

luvblues2

I also have never seen a post that would bring banning upon wiredmama. WTF is up with that?!

asweetnessabove

Wired, banned??? Looks like Westerhold got shown up in his job and didn't like it!

Darwin's choice

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

SRnewsless

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