Oak Creek board buys police cameras

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— The Oak Creek Town Board purchased new police cameras and discussed appointing a local citizen to review police complaints alongside the town's police commissioners after ongoing heated discussion about the Oak Creek Police Department at the board's meeting Thursday.

A public police forum scheduled for Wednesday evening was postponed due to a propane gas explosion earlier that day in Oak Creek that killed a local man. The town hopes to reschedule the forum in the next few weeks, Oak Creek Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio said.

Disgruntled residents and business owners have been circulating a petition enumerating complaints against the department, whose "big city" mentality is being blamed for hurting business in town.

Caterinicchio dismissed much of the controversy as "rumor and innuendo," noting that perceived increased enforcement of the law has actually been brought about by the citizens. Since he came to the department in the fall, calls for service have skyrocketed from 39 in October to 262 in January.

People on all sides of recent controversy packed Thursday's meeting, where the Town Board eagerly gave approval for the police department to purchase a pair of VidMics for its officers to wear on patrol. The devices, worn on the officer's uniform, record video and audio and also can take still photos.

Despite heated moments early in the meeting, locals expressed broad support for the purchase - one man even offered a $100 bill as a donation.

The VidMic units cost about $700 each, instead of the $3,000 to $4,000 to outfit each patrol vehicle with a camera. VidMic units have added benefits in their mobility, Caterinicchio said. Video and sound recorded on the device cannot be erased by an officer and can be subpoenaed in court proceedings, he said.

Footage and images recorded not only aid in criminal prosecution, but are also important when allegations of police impropriety or wrongdoing arise, Caterinicchio said. Given the ongoing discussion in town regarding the police force, having video of all police action has an especially high value in Oak Creek, he said.

"This documents the behavior of my officers, irrefutably, and the behavior of the contacts," Caterinicchio said.

The device also could limit liability and save the town costs in attorney fees, Town Clerk Karen Halterman said.

Complaint review

Under the town's current process, complaints against the police department are reviewed by the police chief and Police Commissioners Dave Fisher and Chuck Wisecup, who both serve on the Town Board.

At the suggestion of local residents, the Town Board discussed adding a citizen to the review process, pending approval of the town attorney.

Infighting about whether the police are upholding the law or unnecessarily hassling residents occurred not just among the audience, but also among the town board.

Many members of the board expressed displeasure that Mayor J. Elliott blacked out the name and contact information for a serious complaint against the police department and did not distribute it through proper channels.

Without that information, the police have little ability to investigate the complaint, Caterinicchio said.

"The process wasn't handled properly - not even close," board member Tom Bleuer said. "All it does is divide this town even more."

Comments

housepoor 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't know why anyone would to agree to be a cop in OC, They obviously don't want them there.

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Ms_E_Bronte 6 years, 2 months ago

Glad to see the OC Town Board has ok'd the purchase of these VidMic's ... should help "both sides" determine what is fact and what is fiction. But, too bad it had to come to this -- not only in Oak Creek, but worldwide.

Am quite puzzled and concerned as to why this mayor is withholding information in the above-referenced "serious complaint" and didn't have the individual(s) making the complaint proceed through proper channels. Believe this same mayor stated at a Board meeting 2-3 months ago (quite emphatically) that complaints needed to be made in writing, signed by the complainant(s) and they would be handled by the commissioners in whatever department the complaint(s) related to. Why is this particular complaint any different? If the person making the complaint signed it, then isn't the mayor prohibiting this person, the OCPD, AND trustees from getting a fair investigation by "blacking out" the person's name and contact information? Seems the mayor's act of blacking out key information reduces this complaint to a "rumor." Perhaps an outside agency (RCSO, SSPD, Hayden PD, MCSO, CBI, etc.) should be brought in to investigate the allegations in this complaint if it is so "serious". There may be more to this story, but it seems the mayor is blocking all sides from reaching any resolution to whatever the complaint/rumor is about. Are individual's civil rights be compromised here by this mayor?

Also, shouldn't this same mayor have recused himself (stepped down) from any formal discussions involving the Oak Creek PD since it is his wife (who is also his business partner at the Colorado Bar) who is spear heading the so-called "complaint petition" against the Oak Creek police department? And, how come he has possession of this one particular complaint? Seems he would want to avoid any signs of impropriety on his part. What is going on here? Have we misread or missed something in this article? Just wondering.

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Hmmm 6 years, 2 months ago

In typical Oak Creek fashion, the law starts getting enforced (for the first time in a long time, because Linda certainly didn't do anything) and the criminals start whining. It's pretty easy people, if you don't want to live in a town with rules and regulations...move!

Does anybody really believe that it would be different if the Sheriff's Office took over law enforcement in Oak Creek. Sure they may have better people skills than the OCPD, but I am willing to bet that they will not back down to anybody when it comes to making arrests (I hear that they love coming into Oak Creek and arresting the pathetic people that think they're above the law, as well as those who are DUI). I've heard that they are even putting their SWAT team back together. So now instead of the drug dealers/users in Oak Creek having 1 OCPD officer knocking on their door, they will have 7 heavily armed Sheriff's Deputies kicking down their door.

I think the OCPD is doing a fine job. It doesn't take a lot of intelligence to see that the people who are complaining are the minority (some of who are the criminals in this town).

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Ms_E_Bronte 6 years, 2 months ago

Clevedale -- Definitely NOT trying to stir up anything -- as my post states "have we misread or missed something in this article?"

As you have pointed out, this lady has agreed to come forward (the article says nothing about this); her reluctance is totally understandable -- hopefully the truth will prevail -- whatever it may be. Feel even stronger that an outside agency needs to be brought in to do the investigation -- then neither "side" can complain (hopefully) about "glossing over" etc. Or, have a citizen review panel (not just one citizen) and the police commissioners set up to investigate complaints. This may sound cornish, but something as simple as drawing names from a hat and asking those individuals if they would be willing to sit on the panel. Draw new names every 6 months or so then a lot more citizens would have an active input.

Did not put Jay in a bad light -- you just took it that way. But, in his position as mayor of the Town, sincerely think he needs to be very cautious about any degree of impropriety -- real or imagined -- in these matters. Sometimes its best to err on the side of caution.

Don't understand the "us" or "them" attitude that has been going on for years. The "outlaw" and "low life" references are very disturbing to those outside Oak Creek. Is this just a ploy to attract readers, promote rumors, or what?

Also totally agree with you that the forum needs to be held ASAP -- for all parties involved. Communication is the key.

As far as the VidMic's are concerned -- may not be as simple as "turning them off" on a whim... as with most video/audio equipment these days, there are indicators to reveal whether this has been done or not. Perhaps the Board/commissioners can expand on this.

Thank you for the info

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justathought 6 years, 2 months ago

The Trustees should let the mayor know that they will not accept nor discuss anonymous complaints, which is what this amounts to. The entire Board has the right to have the complaint investigated and weigh it's validity before discussing it at a public meeting otherwise all they are discussing is rumor. Shame on the mayor for spreading rumors at a public meeting, the rest of the board better grow a pair and quit letting the anti cop crew control the meetings. I sure wouldn't take the mayors word for anything pertaining to the PD, he thought the ex chief was doing a great job and it's his business that gets hurt if the PD is doing their job. This complaint was discussed in a public meeting, with the complainants name blacked out, doesn't that make this a public document? Did the mayor destroy evidence and black out the name on the original so that the PD cannot file false reporting charges on her if the complaint is proven unfounded? Where did the mayor get this complaint, at his bar? There is no way you will get an unbiased citizen committee from the people in OC that will volunteer to serve. For all of the law abiding, sober citizens of OC, WAKE UP, you are about to lose your town again, it's time to take a stand, GET INVOLVED.

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justathought 6 years, 2 months ago

BTW, I agree 100% with you Bronte, they need outside investigation (anyone but Wall). Ahh, but if the cops are found innocent it will be deemed a cover-up by the complaining crowd and low and behold, many of OC's finest will believe it. Nothing changes and nothing ever will until the good, decent folk say enough!

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housepoor 6 years, 2 months ago

Do the bar owners want to allow their patron to drive home drunk? Is that what this issue boils down to?

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twostroketerror 6 years, 2 months ago

I'd love to go to the Black Mtn, I miss Buebs, but going to jail after 1 beer seems a little over the top. Anything over .05 is up to the 'discretion' of the officer, and the discretion of these officers seems to be 'book 'em, Dano'. OC won't be getting any of my $$ anytime soon, sorry. I'm certainly not alone in this feeling, and that seems to be the point of the business owners.

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Scrapiron 6 years, 2 months ago

I've been watching this 'drama' unfold in the 'Creek' for some time now; and it looks as tho the folks have themselves a real 'goat orgy' (read anything by Richard Marcinko for the true definition and meaning of that idiom) going on. What really caught my attention was 'Hmmmm's' comment on fromer Chief Linda Koile not 'doing anything' That is pure ignorance speaking, as nothing could be further from the truth!

Linda worked her way up from a Code Enforcement officer and was appointed to eventual Chief by the Town Board. As code enforcer, she was faced with some tough decisions such as citing a town board member for trash and debris around his residence that it finally was resolved in COURT, Oak Creek being the victor. Anyone who owned dogs knows only too well of her presence, as she handed out plenty of citations on that score, sometimes to her friends even. When she ascended to Chief, she put together a department that used the concept of 'Community Policing' which made the officers more approachable, accessible and 'user friendly' which resulted in more calls, more tickets, and more arrests of folks deserving of it. Let's not forget the significant amount of money she recovered for the merchants of the town from deadbeats who wrote bad checks! She wrote a good deal of traffic tickets, also and WON most of the ones that were contested. When her code enforcement officer resigned, and her other patrolman went on to another job, she was left by herself with no help whatsoever, and was literally 'thrown under the bus' by the so-called wanna be 'plolice commissioners' ( I will not take the time to assail them here as they are not worthy of my comments) She continued to execute her duties to the fullest extent of her abilities without ever taking any time off, being on call 24/7 and being tied to the town. It was a major accomplishment if she could even get away long enough to run errands, shop or take care of personal things like Doctors appointments, etc. Her 'Taxi Service' as it was so fondly called was not her condoning drinking to excess (folks are going to drink to excess regardless) but rather a proactive approach to preventing accidents involving alcohol, PERIOD! Sure, the DUI arrests were few and far between, but what looks better: Bodies on the slab or money in the coffers? You can't legislate morality or people's habits; if they are predisposed to drink, they will. She just helped prevent the inevitable tragedies that may have occurred. Hats off to her! She was a great asset to that town. She got things done and was well liked. There were no petitions circulated becasue of her, were there? She did her BEST, gave it her ALL, and they SCREWED her. I hope wherever she is she is doing well, and has no bitter feelings toward the town. To say she did nothing is pure, utter IGNORANCE!

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Timberline 6 years, 2 months ago

Scrapiron: Very well put. I agree 100% with what you commented. Anyone that knew her at all, and took the time to talk to her would know what you said to be true. She's was a wonderful asset to Oak Creek,and is greatly missed. Anyone that says any different are the one's you'd see talking to her one minute, and as soon as she drove away they'd be stabbing her in the back... I'm am also over the bashing, but you know that it will never end. The cronic complainers always have to be b****ing about something, and it's easier to bash the one's that are no longer involved in the drama. That's just my opinion, but I'm sure we'll see more negative comments and bashings. The people that knew her know the truth and that's all that matters.

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innovated 6 years, 1 month ago

When on camera, people tend to behave more appropriate, so do cops...unless all forget about the taping. This would prove all questionable accountability on what really happened. There is a problem when a significant percentage of Oak Creek are complaining. Could they all be wrong? OCPD, I certainly think if you are having complaints, you need to take some responsibility instead of holding the stance that everyone's complaint is unwarranted.

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