Community safety should be first

A couple of months ago, I wrote asking the community a question. That question was, “when is enough, enough?” A couple months have since past and I have concluded that in Darke County, enough has not yet been enough.

In my earlier release, I brought up the case of a late twenties female, that was filed on September 23, 2020; the offender in this case punched two Greenville Police Officers and then bit a paramedic from the Greenville Township Fire Department. The Darke County Common Pleas Court initially released her on her own recognizance (no bond). On March 1, 2021, the offender in this case appeared for sentencing after pleading guilty. The offender pleaded, and was found guilty, of two counts of assault on a peace officer and one count of assault on a EMS personnel. All three charges are felonies of the fourth-degree. All three of these charges have a maximum penalty of 18 months per count and a $5,000 fine. In total, the maximum sentence would be up to 54 months in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.

When the offender in this case appeared in court she was sentenced to the following: five days in jail with two days credit (yes, she was sentenced to a mere 3 days in the county jail); 30 days of house arrest, with work release privileges; must report to probation; pay court costs within 12 months; complete 100 hours of community service, among several other meager requirements as set forth by the court. In this case, if the offender is found in violation of the sentencing orders, the offender could be sentenced to 9 months in prison.

Once again, the judgment entry stated that community control sanctions (no prison), does not demean the severity of the offense. It goes on to say that community control should be for a “non-violent offender.” Maybe I am reading too far into this (sarcasm), but how much more violent does a person need to be? Three felony convictions of Assault is now considered non-violent by our court system? It is time to take a stand.

Who stands with the victims in these cases? According to Ohio Law, the prosecutor’s office is required to confer with the victim in assault cases. I can only guess that not all of the victims in this case were spoken to or I would hope that the case would have been presented in a different manner by the prosecutor’s office. Which brings up another good question for us to ask ourselves, where was the victim’s rights advocate? Why were the victims not talked to, in accordance with “Marcy’s Law,”? I personally have addressed these issues with the prosecutor’s office in hopes that this won’t be an issue in the future.

Things are getting out of hand, violent offenders are walking the streets and they are making an unsafe Darke County. This isn’t an issue of law enforcement not doing their job, this is a case of the prosecutor’s office and the court not doing theirs. It is time to hold elected officials accountable. It’s time to ensure that Darke County will be a safe place to live and to raise a family.

By Mark Ater

Union City, Ohio Police Chief

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