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Published: Thursday, 7/24/2014

Put-in-Bay officials face crowd of 70 people at public safety forum

BLADE STAFF
Put-In-Bay Mayor Margaret Scarpelli and Police Chief Rick Lampela at tonight's hearing. Put-In-Bay Mayor Margaret Scarpelli and Police Chief Rick Lampela at tonight's hearing.
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PUT-IN-BAY -- Village officials are facing a crowd of about 70 people tonight -- mostly business owners from the island -- with concerns about the small community‘‍s police force.

The village organized a public safety forum this evening after complaints about the inexperienced and low-paid police force from residents and owners of the island’‍s businesses.

Earlier this month, retired Port Clinton Schools superintendent Dennis Rectenwald found himself in handcuffs in front of guests at his home over a traffic violation. Owners Put-in-Bay Resort have accused the police force of unfairly targeting their workers after three employees were arrested in September, 2013. The workers were charged with obstruction of justice. Employees say they were arrested when they refused to speak with police officers out of sight of the resort‘‍s security cameras. 

Police chief Ric Lampela defended his department, saying his officers receive proper training before beginning work. He said the department is historically composed of officers in their first year of service, fresh out of training academies. The seasonal jobs pay little more than the $8 an hour minimum wage, making it difficult to attract more experienced officers, he said.

The island’‍s big summer tourist event, Christmas in July, is expected to draw about 20,000 visitors this weekend, raising tensions over the police issue. 



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