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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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Living with a Rogue Police Department

Well, they got another one. Another Cuyahoga Falls cop has been arrested, this one for allegedly beating his two young daughters. He was picked up in another town because in the Falls they hide their offenders behind a Thin Blue Wall. And do they ever have the offenders.
While working as a reporter I've known a lot of cops in a number of different cities and the vast majority were good men who worked hard at a job that occasionally could be tough. Not all were good, of course. A few were bullies, a few were lazy, a few were thieves. For the most part, though, they were fine men who did their job thoroughly and conscientiously.
Not in Cuyahoga Falls, however. There's some good ones, there always is, but it seems the department is loaded with abusers, bullies and men who in one way or another are corrupt. The force gets more than its share of newspaper coverage as a result.
I've had a first hand look at the kind of men who are far too prevalent on the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department. It was in January a year ago when one of them named Jeff Hill gave me a stiff-arm to the chest. I was eighty at the time, he was in his mid-twenties. The blow was hard enough to force me to take a nitroglycerin pill to alleviate the chest pain.
I reported the incident, but that meant going to the Falls cops. What did they do? Nothing. Said the union rules prevented it or something like that. The prosecutor from another town looked over the report and told them it wasn't worth pursuing. Now suppose I had stiff-armed a cop, would that have been worth pursuing? You'd better believe it because that Thin Blue Wall works in only one direction. I informed Mayor Don Robart about it and he, too, did nothing.
This latest incident involves a cop named Ralph E. Flynn. A few years ago he was charged with domestic violence and pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. He was given a couple of options by the mayor, be placed on probation or be fired. He chose the latter, but got his job back about six months later when the police union filed a grievance. The Thin Blue Wall at work.
Will it happen again? Probably. Why not when those same upholders of the law will file another grievance if he's fired.
The humorous part of the latest affair is that Flynn's first problem came in 2005. After the recent incident the chief, John Conley, said, "This is an unusual circumstance for me in my four years as chief." What a memory the man possesses.
I remember when it was so different. The department was made up of men like Bob DeHart, who dedicated himself to lending kids a helping hand, Horace Simms, a quiet man and a standout model builder, Don Brown, a Falls High athlete who rose to be chief, Clarence Chance, who was killed in a motorcycle accident while on duty, Don Burt, who had played on the Little League team I coached. There were more, many more. Times have changed on the department, and not for the better.


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