Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cops - Some Good, Some Bad

Well, the boys in blue here in Cuyahoga Falls outdid themselves this time. One of them driving five miles over the speed limit - or so he says - without his flashing lights turned on managed to run down a pedestrian. He "darted out" in front of the cruiser, or so the cop says.
Before I go any further let me say that any newspaper reporter who has covered the police or crime beats has seen some good cops and some bad ones. Remembering the bad ones is easiest. There was the fellow named Policeman of the Month by a service club in Muncie, then was arrested a few weeks later because he was part of a burglary ring. They quit making the award.
Or the detective who investigated a burglary at the house next to ours. He did it without getting out of his car. Soon after he departed the loot was discovered at the far end of the back yard awaiting pickup from the next street and the neighbors joined in to carry everything back to the house.
Then there were those testifying in trials I covered who admitted they had followed none of the standard procedures in investigating a crime. Quick acquittal, of course. Or the detective who shoved a phone book across the desk to a man from out of town who asked for a lawyer. He faced a charge of murder, but it was thrown out of court.
But the cops in Cuyahoga Falls are in a class by themselves. In recent years there have been arrests and shake-ups for various kinds of corruption and several weeks ago one of them was charged with beating up his wife. It's a department with far more than its share of bullies.
Take Jeff Hill, for example. A year ago this month a young woman parked in a clearly marked fire zone. When my wife told her she shouldn't do that the woman said, "Mind your own business, old lady!" A short time later I saw the car still there so I went over, leaned down and told her to watch the way she spoke to my wife.
Her boyfriend at the time was this off-duty cop, Hill. He shouted, "Take your hand off the car!" I did so, then he shoved the door open, leaped out and gave me a hard stiff-arm to the chest. Hard enough that I had to take a nitroglycerin tablet that I'm required to carry with me. "Get out of here, old man," he said, although I lived there and he did not. Anyway, it was the only time I've ever had to take a nitro tablet while outside our home. That's how hard the blow was.
I had no idea who the man was but found out later in the day from someone who saw him still in the car and had had an earlier unpleasant encounter with him. I filed a police report and that evening both my wife and I were called down to the police station and interviewed separately by a sergeant and a detective.
What came of it? Nothing, of course. The Blue Wall was in operation. Now suppose it had been the other way around and it was my stiff-arm that connected with the cop's chest - would anything have come of it? You'd better believe it.
When nothing resulted from my complaint I laid out all the details in a letter to the mayor and didn't even receive the courtesy of a reply. Too busy thinking about confiscating private property by eminent domain so some entrepreneur can develop it for his own use, I suppose.
So now I have no respect for anyone wearing a Falls police uniform. They don't deserve it. I am leery when I see a Falls police cruiser that's on the street rather than parked in front of a convenience store that sells coffee and doughnuts. I don't feel that way when driving in Akron or other nearby cities.
It wasn't always that way here. In the past I have known some fine men who were policemen in Cuyahoga Falls. Very fine men who wouldn't have dreamed of engaging in corruption, beating up their wives or stiff-arming an 80-year-old citizen.
Yes, I've known good cops and bad cops. This is a new experience, though. Now I've encountered an entire department that seems to be on the wrong side of the fence. Or rather than fence should I say Blue Wall? Whatever, when someone in this inner-suburb of Akron has a serious problem I would never advise them to "call a cop."
www.dickstodghill.com

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