Ugly: Longer response times for LEO
The Chronicle-Telegram - Lorain County's leading news source
BRIGHTON TWP. — It took Lorain County sheriff’s deputies a little more than two hours to respond to check the welfare of a man Monday.
By the time they arrived at the Brighton Township home of John Olson, the 40-year-old already was dead, according to the event log of the incident.
County Coroner Paul Matus said even if deputies had been around the corner and dispatched when the 10:53 a.m. call came in, it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Matus said that while the investigation into Olson’s death continues, it appears he died of natural causes around 6 a.m. Monday, if not earlier.
County Sheriff Phil Stammitti said that while there was nothing deputies could have done in this case, he fears that there will come a time when a call comes in that deputies can’t respond to promptly, and the delay will make a bad situation worse.
“At some point, something that sounds like a nothing winds up being something,” he said.
Dave Noll, an adviser to the Lorain County Deputies Association, said the loss of manpower and the increased response times have placed township residents and the deputies themselves in greater danger.
While Monday’s delay may not ultimately have made a difference, he said, sooner or later it will.
“You’re flirting with disaster, and eventually something’s going to happen,” Noll said.
Stammitti placed the blame for the delay in responding to the call to check on Olson on the layoffs he was forced to make after the Lorain County commissioners slashed his budget by $1.1 million to deal with a countywide budget shortfall. Stammitti cut 12 full-time deputies, eight part-timers and two typists in late December.
Before the layoffs, he said, there would have been five or six deputies on patrol, but he had four deputies working the road Monday, and the deputy assigned to patrol the district that includes Brighton Township was dealing with a prisoner medical transport at the time of the call.
The others were in different areas of the county.
According to the call log, the initial call came from one of Olson’s co-workers at Sherwin-Williams Paint Co. after he missed a scheduled 6:30 a.m. plane flight.
Stammitti said the dispatcher, Sgt. Russ Scarbrough, had to prioritize the calls, and the welfare check wasn’t as high a priority as it may have been had the person being checked been a child or an elderly individual.
“It’s a judgment thing based on experience,” Capt. Richard Resendez said.
The call jumped to a higher priority when Olson’s co-worker called back at 12:21 p.m. and told Scarbrough that Olson was a hunter with numerous guns in the house and was going through a divorce.
Scarbrough dispatched Deputy Jeffrey Yusko at 12:29 p.m., who was working on the county’s east side at the time, Resendez said. Yusko arrived at the scene at 12:57 p.m., according to the radio log.
Deputies found Olson on the kitchen floor of his state Route 511 home with the dishwasher running and the coffee pot still warm, Matus said. Despite having a business trip planned, Olson had not packed and wasn’t dressed to leave the house, he said.
Resendez said deputies also found a note detailing who should get Olson’s possessions in the event of his death, something that initially made it appear that Olson may have taken his own life.
But while Matus wouldn’t reveal the details, he said suicide has been ruled out and Olson had been dealing with numerous medical problems.
Matus said it’s not surprising deputies couldn’t arrive sooner.
“It’s the way it is when you’re short on people,” he said.
Stammitti said this is the second time a seemingly innocuous call has been given a low priority since the layoffs. Earlier this month, he said, a caller from Carlisle Township reported a suspicious vehicle, something that deputies couldn’t respond to immediately. The occupants of the vehicle were actually in the middle of a burglary at the time, Stammitti said.
“You can only handle one call at a time,” he said.
Last week, the commissioners approved a 0.5 percentage point sales tax increase that will bring in $15 million annually when it starts being collected in April. The commissioners have said they won’t use that money to restore any department’s budget unless voters make the tax permanent when it appears on the November ballot.
I do not like the way the man's :sheep: co- workers profile him however it still should not take 2 hours to respond to anything. Then there was the burglary in progress that they got a call to and ignored. When people ask why I carry this is why. Lorain Co. Sheriff is the only LEO in my twp.