Police Department saw dramatic increase in fraud and vehicle entries in 2018

Vermilion Police Chief Chris Hartung released the 2018 annual police department report at the recent Vermilion City Council Health and Safety Committee meeting stating it is being released later than normal. The following are excerpts from that report.
Investigative Bureau
The investigative bureau includes Detective Sergeant Stephen Davis and Detective Corporal Daniel Shupe. They work on a wide range of cases throughout the year. The following are some of the more extensive cases they investigated throughout 2018.
Some of the more extensive or serious cases the Detective Bureau worked on are:

• A female employee of a local business was suspected of using customers’ vehicles for personal use. Surveillance was conducted, and the female was observed driving a customer’s vehicle. A traffic stop was initiated, and the female was arrested for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and Driving Under Suspension.

• An Ewa Yea resident reported that mail containing a credit card had been stolen. The stolen credit card was used to make purchase at stores in Lorain and Elyria. Video surveillance was obtained from those transactions and a male was arrested for Receiving Stolen Property.

• Kingston Nursing Home reported a possible theft of a patient’s medication. After a brief investigation, an employee was charged with Theft, Illegal Processing of Drug Documents and Tampering with Evidence.

• Driftwood Tavern suspected that a female patron was stealing money from the bar area when the employee was in the kitchen portion of the business. Surveillance was set up and the female was observed reaching over the counter and stealing money. The female was arrested and charged with theft.

• A bank in Vermilion activated their hold up alarm. Officers responded to the area and located the suspect a short distance away. The male was taken into custody and identified by bank employees. The male was charged with Robbery and Kidnapping. The male is currently serving his prison sentence.

• A Howard Drive resident reported three of his vehicles were entered. One item taken was a firearm. The resident had video surveillance which captured the suspect entering the vehicles. After viewing where the suspect touched the vehicles a “blind swab” was taken for touch DNA. A suspect was later identified by his DNA profile. He was arrested for Grand Theft and Breaking and Entering.

• During a rash of car entries, two arrests were made by use of video surveillance and a fingerprint left on one of the cars that had been entered.

• The Vermilion Police Department and the Lorain County SWAT Team were dispatched to a home on Highbridge Road for a suicidal man who was reported to have fired a hand gun in his home. The male was contacted via telephone by family members and surrendered peacefully. The male was determined to be intoxicated. It was later determined that the male fired 8 shots into the ceiling of his bedroom. The male was transported to Mercy Health Partners for a mental evaluation. The male was later arrested for Having Weapons Under Disability and Discharging a firearm in the city.

• After a lengthy investigation between the Vermilion Police Department and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a Vermilion juvenile was referred to Juvenile Court for Pandering Obscenity.

• An employee of the City of Vermilion was suspected of misusing a City of Vermilion fuel card. After investigation, the male was arrested for Grand Theft.

• An Amherst resident was arrested for OVI in the City of Vermilion. Two days after her arrest she reported that she had been pistol whipped in Cleveland. The female stated that was able to escape and get into her car. She claimed that the male later followed her to Vermilion where he then physically assaulted her. A lengthy investigation followed. This included interviewing witnesses in Cleveland, a conference with a City of Cleveland Prosecutor and interviewing the suspect 3 times. It was determined that no assault occurred. The female was later convicted of OVI in Vermilion.

• A Liberty Avenue organization reported the theft of 110 (one hundred) dollar Bass Pro gift cards. After a lengthy investigation, a female employee was charged with Grand Theft.

• A male from out of state came to Ohio and stole a vehicle from Norwalk, which he abandoned at a local marina. The male then stole a boat from that marina and went out the Vermilion River to Lake Erie. He beached the boat just west of the city limits and came back into the City of Vermilion where he attempted to steal a vehicle from a resident on Main Street. After being confronted by the resident, the male entered the open garage of a home on Huron Street and stole that resident’s vehicle. He was stopped by the Ohio State Patrol on the Ohio Turnpike. The male was later arrested and charged with Burglary, Attempted Grand Theft, Grand Theft and Receiving Stolen Property.

• An elderly couple residing in Yorktown Place were the victim of a theft with a dollar value of $60,000.00. The female suspect was providing home health care for the couple and began to steal checks, making them out to herself. The female then cashed the checks and deposited them into her checking account. The female was arrested for Grand Theft.

• A Sunnyside Road business was part of a greater ring of thieves who were producing and cashing counterfeit company payroll checks. The checks were being cashed in the greater Pittsburgh, Pa. area. The U.S. Secret Service and the Allegheny Prosecutors Office are spearheading the investigation. There are several known suspects in the greater Pittsburgh area.

• After a lengthy investigation a Vermilion area juvenile was referred to Juvenile Court for 6 counts of rape. These allegations involved three Vermilion area juvenile victims.

• A Vermilion resident was involved in an altercation that occurred at a local drinking establishment. After a lengthy investigation, a male was arrested for Felonious Assault as the victim suffered several serious injuries to his head

Narcotics
In 2018, we had a total of 70 narcotics related calls. We had 20 narcotics complaints, 24 narcotics paraphernalia/ possession calls, 25 non-fatal overdoses, and 1 fatal overdose. Additionally, we used approx. 30 doses of Narcan. Narcan used by NCEMS is not tracked by this department. The number of narcotics related calls is about the same as 2017. We had more overdoses but less overdose related deaths. We did use more Narcan last year than in 2017, which we continue to receive through different groups at no cost to us. . As is common, a lot of our theft and receiving stolen property charges from 2018 correlate with our narcotics problems. OVIs are another area effected by narcotics use.
The Vermilion PD K-9 Unit is comprised of Sgt. Scott Holmes and K-9 Miro. K-9 Miro is an 8-year-old German shepherd that joined the VPD on 12/18/12. Sgt. Holmes and K-9 Miro trained together for 2 months and were initially certified through the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission as a Dual-Purpose K-9 Team on 02/16/13. They then recertify annually through the OPOTC to maintain certifications. K-9 Miro is certified in narcotics detection, tracking, article search and patrol duties. Patrol duties include; handler protection, building and area searches, and criminal apprehension. Sgt. Holmes and K-9 Miro conducted 300 hours of K-9 training in 2018. The VPD K-9 Unit trains with many different area K-9 Units on a weekly basis to remain proficient in their duties. The VPD K-9 Unit assisted the Patrol Division with many different incidents throughout 2018 with patrol duties and traffic stop “K-9 Free Air Narcotics Sniffs”. The K-9 Unit assisted other area Law Enforcement Agencies with mutual aid (10) times. The K-9 Unit conducted 48 “Free Air” Vehicle Narcotics Sniffs” of vehicles in various circumstances throughout the year.

The VPD K-9 Unit conducted (11) K-9 Narcotics Sweeps at area schools throughout the year. The K-9 Unit has a very close working relationship with the Vermilion School District and conducts K-9 Narcotics Sweeps in the schools on a monthly basis in an effort to help maintain the Vermilion Schools drug free. The K-9 Unit also assists other agencies with coordinated K-9 Narcotics Sweeps of other area schools. The K-9 Unit conducted (7) public appearances at area events, (3) K-9 Demonstration at schools and (7) K-9 Demonstrations to the public. It conducted (21) K-9 Foot Patrols in different areas of the City requiring extra patrol. The K-9 Unit conducted (2) building and (3) area searches for suspects.

The K-9 Unit conducted (1) suspect track for the Ohio State Highway Patrol in which two wanted suspects led OSHP Troopers on a vehicle pursuit and then fled from the vehicle into some woods. K-9 Miro was used to track the suspects to their hiding location in the woods and they were both taken into custody.

SWAT
Every law enforcement agency, at one time or another, will be faced with an emergency or critical incident with a greater risk and a higher potential for the loss of life. Such incidents may involve confrontations with armed barricaded suspects, the rescue of hostages or injured people, snipers, riots, crowd control and dignitary protection.

The methods, techniques, and equipment used to resolve these situations may determine the outcome of a life or death situation. These situations can expose law enforcement personnel to an abnormal amount of risk and personal danger. Minimizing the risk and dealing most effectively with these situations requires planning, special weapons, special equipment, tactics, and highly trained personnel. The result is the formation of a group of carefully selected officers trained with Special Weapons and Tactics. (SWAT)
Recognizing that the presence of a highly trained, highly skilled tactical unit has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of injury or loss of life to citizens, police officers, and suspects, and recognizing that a well-managed team response to critical incidents usually results in the successful resolution of the conflict, the Lorain County SWAT Team was formed in 1991.

It is the mission of all members of the LC SWAT Unit to provide an immediate, systematic response of highly trained law enforcement personnel and equipment to tactical situations, emergencies, critical incidents or natural disasters that exceed the capabilities of a requesting agency. The Lorain County SWAT Team is comprised of officers from Vermilion, Amherst, Avon, Avon Lake, Oberlin, LaGrange, and Wellington Police Departments, as well as Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office.

Critical incidents are defined as follows: • Hostage Situations: the holding of any person(s) against their will by an armed or potentially armed suspect. • Barricade Situation: the stand-off created by an armed or potentially armed suspect in any location, whether fortified or not, who is refusing to comply with law enforcement demands for surrender. • Sniper Situations: the firing upon citizens and / or law enforcement officers by an armed suspect, whether stationary or mobile. • High Risk Warrant Service: the service of a search or arrest warrant where the warrant service matrix or policy recommends or requires the use of SWAT. • Personal Protection: the security of special persons, such as VIP’s, witnesses, or suspects, based on a threat or potential threat to the well-being of those persons. • Special Assignments: any assignment, approved by the SWAT Operations Commander, based on a high level of threat and / or need.

The SWAT Team is committed to the safe resolution of all high-risk situations and will approach each situation in a professional and controlled manner, with an emphasis on a negotiated resolution. Team members approach their duties with a high level of confidence, motivation, flexibility, and patience.

The SWAT Team utilizes the best available specialized training and equipment to accomplish its mission and develop the specialized skills of each team member.

The SWAT team trains a minimum of one day per month, with individual officers obtaining specialized training outside of normal training hours. Most team members attend the Ohio Tactical Officers Training during the month of June. This training is a one-week advanced training event held at the Kalahari Resort and numerous training facilities throughout the Erie, Lorain, and Ottawa county areas.

Sgt. Gordon Adams and Ptl. Sean Bailey are the Vermilion Police Department members of the Lorain County SWAT Unit. Sgt. Adams has been assigned to the SWAT unit for 28 years and Ptl. Bailey has been assigned for 3 years.

The Lorain County SWAT team was activated and responded to 6 call outs. One of which being in our city on Highbridge Rd where VPD Officers responded to a residence to do a welfare check when gunshots were fired from inside the residence.

Another call out was in Sheffield Lake, where the US Marshalls requested the assistance of the SWAT team to execute an arrest warrant. This callout lasted 13 hours and resulted in 1 team member on the SWAT team being critically wounded from a gunshot fired by the suspect, Martin Robinson. Ptl Bailey was involved in this incident and fired his rifle into the residence after gunshots from inside the residence were fired towards him. Martin Robinson surrendered after suffering 3 gunshot wounds and was transported to a hospital then jail. Martin Robinson stood trial in Lorain County Common Pleas court in 2019. Ptl Bailey testified in front of a jury, along with other SWAT team members. Martin Robinson was convicted of attempted murder on Ptl Bailey and several other SWAT team members which resulted in a 55-year prison sentence.

The last SWAT call out of the year was on November 25. Deputies had been requested to do a welfare check on a male as he had made suicidal comments to a friend. Upon locating the male, he held Deputies at gun point and made threats to harm them. SWAT was activated and responded. The male suspect was fatally shot by a SWAT team member after stepping out of his vehicle and raising a high-powered rifle towards SWAT team members.

Both Sgt Adams and Ptl Bailey continue to serve as members on the SWAT team. Sgt Adams specializes in sniper rifle tactics and deployment and Ptl Bailey specializes in and holds instructor certifications for less lethal munitions, flash bang, OC/ Crowd Control, Pepper Ball and Bang Pole.

School Resource Officer
The School Resource Officer position at Vermilion Local School District is currently held by Ptl. Brian Beckwith. Ptl. Beckwith attended SRO Basic Training in October 2015, School Active Shooter Planning and Response on April 21st 2016, ALICE Instructor training on April 28th-29th 2016, and Intro to Rescue Task Force on May 8th-9th 2016. Ptl. Beckwith attended Active Killer Interdiction on June 8th 2017, and Undercover Online Investigations on August 13-15th, 2017.

Ptl. Beckwith had 1,563 calls for service in the 2017 calendar year. Ptl. Beckwith handled 96 incidents at Vermilion Local Schools, with most of them stemming from Sailorway Middle School and Vermilion High School. Most of the calls dealt with threats between students, sexual misconduct involving juveniles and drug or alcohol related issues. A classroom was established in Sailorway Middle School with students whose behavior conditions had worsened to where a referral to another behavior school was becoming more likely, and Ptl. Beckwith was assigned as an assistant to the class when available. A similar classroom was developed at Vermilion High School in 2017 where Ptl. Beckwith was also assigned.

Ptl. Beckwith assisted with several narcotics K9 sweeps at the schools. He spoke in Physics class regarding traffic crashes, attended several Criminology classes at VHS, and often speaks in classrooms about legal issues they may face. Ptl. Beckwith spoke to each 8th grade class on the importance of not sending nude photographs to another juvenile or any death threats, and the laws concerning these.

Ptl. Beckwith assisted with Safety Town on June 11th-22nd 2018. Ptl. Beckwith attended weekly meetings with the Crisis Response Team, held intruder response scenarios at each school, and met regularly with teachers and staff for disaster planning. Ptl. Beckwith held conferences on active shooter statistic, hosted conferences with the teachers on recent drug trends, and held conferences to counsel the students on drug abuse. He ran an instructor level Self Aid, Buddy Aid course for any personnel at the schools who wished to attend.

Ptl. Beckwith hosted an ALiCE active shooter course which was open to the public, with the intention of teaching parents and students what to do in the case of an active shooter to provide a greater chance of survival. Ptl. Beckwith assisted with an intruder threat exercise where an unknown subject entered through the main office and right into the school. Ptl. Beckwith met with each preschool class to meet the students and talk about Stranger Danger, 5 Trusted adults and the parts of his uniform. Ptl. Beckwith assisted the schools with adopting a new safety plan as required by the state and modifying their own to meet the standards. Ptl. Beckwith held a presentation on the warning signs of a possible Active Shooter event. Ptl. Beckwith assisted with many of the major after school events, including prom, all school dances, and assisting with basketball and football games. Ptl. Beckwith assisted with the School Safety and Security Levies passing in 2018.

Several incidents that Ptl. Beckwith addressed in 2018:
• 02-06-2018: The SRO was called to respond to a student throwing over tables and chairs in a classroom. The student was charged with Disorderly Conduct.
• 02-16-2018: Student brought a knife to school and brandished it to several students. The student was charged with Illegal Conveyance of a Deadly Weapon.
• 02-28-2018: Students stated they would bring a gun to school and kill others. The student was charged with Aggravated Menacing.
• 03-21-2018: A student assaulted another student in the school. The student was charged with Assault. • 04-06-2018: A student assaulted another student in the classroom. The student was charged with Assault. • 05-03-2018: Student stated they would kill their classroom with a gun. The student was charged with Aggravated Menacing.
• 05-04-2018: A student assaulted another student and a teacher, and then had to be restrained and taken to the office before being arrested for Assault and transported to the detention center.
• 05-08-2018: A student threw another student face first into a concrete wall and was charged with assault.
• 12-07-2018: A student stated a threat towards several students in the classroom and caused the class to evacuate the room. The student was charged with Inducing Panic and Aggravated Menacing.

Marine Patrol
The Vermilion Police Marine Patrol Unit is comprised of 8 Marine Patrol Unit state certified officers, 3 civilian boat operators, and is supervised by the Harbormaster, Sgt. Gordon Adams. The Marine Patrol is in operation primarily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but extends longer into the season as the budget permits, with random patrols during the week and extended patrols during weekends and holidays.

The Marine Patrol covers the Vermilion River and 64,120 acres of Lake Erie. This area of Lake Erie consists of waters from the east city limits to the west city limits, extending 8 miles north. The police boat is available 24/7 for any and all emergency callouts and mutual aid situations. The waters of Vermilion contain approximately 3000 boat docks, 13 The Vermilion Police Marine Patrol Unit is comprised of 8 Marine Patrol Unit state certified officers, 3 civilian boat operators, and is supervised by the Harbormaster, Sgt. Gordon Adams. The Marine Patrol is in operation primarily from Memorial Day through Labor Day but extends longer into the season as the budget permits, with random patrols during the week and extended patrols during weekends and holidays.

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