As a coordinator of the Simon Miller Neighborhood Watch, I have been drawn into the tragedy that has happened in our community, as well as our county, on July 12, 2012.
At this time, I, on behalf of our Neighborhood Watch, would like to send condolences to the Steve Holsinger family.
As should be expected, the massive concern of what has happened leaves many of our citizens, as well as respectable businesses, in turmoil as to why a business would resort to criminal activity instead of doing what seems right and legal. Our Sheriff, Marty Donini, as well as our Prosecutor Mark Kuhn, collectively decided to take no action at the time. In explaining the process of repossession and what they would do if called, Sherriff Donini stated if called, if the person that has the property does not turn it over voluntarily, the trespassers would be asked to leave.
( If I understand this protocol correctly, officer responding to the scene on a self help repossession A. will use their authority to influence the person that has the property to voluntarily turn it over. in which the officer has no knowledge of whether or not this is a legal repossession, other than statement of the person that may have committed misdemeanor crimes, if this person will not voluntarily do so, then B. regardless of any criminal acts by the person doing an improper repossession, the officer will tell them to leave.) This statement of protocol serves only the criminal and not the citizen; granted, there are exceptions to any rule.
If two people are in a dispute and the law is called and the person not living at the residence is told to leave, this is reasonable. But this protocol also covers persons committing multiple crimes and/or a business no longer acting as a business, but as criminals, and may as well have a history of repeating these offenses along with carrying a loaded weapon in the process of this action. Telling them to leave does not seem to fit the circumstance and may as well put every citizen in our county at risk. Putting the statement of their protocol in the media is clearly telling illegally run repos, debt collectors, and/or criminals alike that if they choose to commit misdemeanor crimes, and the sheriff is called, the trespassers will just be told to leave. This can lead to extremely many more of these types of crimes happening, as well as many more deaths in our county.
The resulting situation puts organizations, like Neighborhood watches in very tough spot. Since we have been up and running, we have helped in controlling the crime in our area and a well set up neighborhood watch is only an asset to law enforcement. So far, there have been no problems between our watch group and law enforcement.
We in Scioto County are fortunate enough to have a very good Sheriff’s Department. Our Neighborhood Watch is clear on the rules: observe, collect information and report (absolutely no aggression if a crime is in progress), call the sheriff’s office and stay away. If this type of criminal activity expedites, it can also put citizens, as well as watch patrols, etc.. in situations where their neighbors and friends are in a life threatening situation and they may have to make a choice to either watch someone get killed, or intervene and use deadly force in order to save a life. The homeowner, as well, may have to defend themselves against armed criminals who supposedly are doing self help repossession or whatever the circumstances may be.