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Criminal Justice Update

News & Notes


Former sheriff heading organized crime commission

Attorney General Mike DeWine has named former Union County Sheriff Rocky Nelson as executive director of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC).

Nelson was appointed Union County sheriff in 2003 and was elected to full terms in 2004 and 2008. He is a graduate of Columbus State Community College and the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Peace Officer Training Program, and he has studied at the FBI National Academy and the National Sheriffs’ Institute.

“We looked for four major qualities in our new executive director: extensive experience, a fire in the belly for law enforcement issues, someone who is a ‘people person’ who can lead a diverse coalition of agencies, and someone with exceptional integrity. We found all of these important qualities in Union County Sheriff Rocky Nelson,” DeWine said.

Housed within the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, OOCIC provides administrative, technical, and legal support for organized crime task forces statewide.

Through the commission, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies can coordinate investigations and prosecutions involving organized criminal enterprises that span multiple jurisdictions.

Peace Officers’ Memorial to honor five inductees

Four Ohio law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2010 and a historical inductee will be remembered at this year’s Ohio Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony, set for 11 a.m. May 5, at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London.

The honorees:

  • Chief Carl Worley, Ross Township Police Department, who died of a heart attack Jan. 26
  • Trooper Andrew C. Baldridge, Ohio State Highway Patrol, who died Feb. 4 in a car accident
  • Officer Thomas F. Patton, Cleveland Heights Police Department, who died March 13 of a heart attack
  • Sgt. James A. Kerstetter, Elyria Police Department, who died March 15 in a shooting
  • Village Marshal John Vapenik of the Maple Heights Police Department, who died Aug. 28, 1920, in a car accident

Law enforcement agencies throughout Ohio are invited to participate in the Fraternal Order of Police Memorial Motorcade, which will travel from downtown Columbus to London on the morning of the ceremony.

The motorcade will depart from the FOP State Lodge, 222 E. Town St., Columbus, at 10 a.m., and units should assemble at 8:30 a.m. To reserve space in the motorcade, contact Denise Young with the FOP at 800-367-6524 by May 2.

Bulletin addresses air conditioner, refrigeration unit thefts

Law enforcement agencies across the state have seen an increase in the theft of central air conditioner and refrigeration units for their copper content.

The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation’s Technical Operations Unit recently issued a crime prevention bulletin to law enforcement suggesting business owners and residents connect such units to their existing burglar alarm systems.

Most alarm systems are able to operate as “closed loop systems,” and central air-conditioning or refrigeration units can be added. Then, if the wires are cut or the unit is tampered with, the loop would be broken, causing an alarm condition.

Those interested in connecting units to their alarm system should contact their installer or a qualified technician. Law enforcement agencies with questions may contact Special Agent Corey Johnson of BCI’s Technical Operations Unit at 614-875-5042 for additional information.

Opinion focuses on deputy sheriff’s presence in grand jury room

The Attorney General’s Opinions Section provides guidance on legal questions for state agencies, county prosecutors and others.

Opinion 2011-004, issued in February, notes that a deputy sheriff may not be present in the grand jury room during the testimony of an inmate who has been subpoenaed to testify. However, an indictment need not be set aside in such a situation unless it can be shown that the deputy sheriff’s presence created prejudice against the accused individual.