breaking news

Clark County teacher facing hit-and-run charges due in court Monday

Clash at last New Year celebration ‘a fluke,’ says Yellow Springs police chief


Firefighters will serve up hot chocolate at tonight’s first-ever officially sanctioned ball drop event in Yellow Springs. It’s one small change that officials hope will lead to a celebration that ends more peacefully than last year’s event.

Miami Twp. Fire and Rescue is officially sponsoring the long-running event. Their equipment, along with the village’s public works truck, will be used to block traffic on U.S. 68 as 2017 comes to an end. In years’ past, a barricade or two blocked the street.

STAY CONNECTED: Greene County News on Facebook

Last year as people continued to celebrate after the ball drop, a near riot ensued as police attempted to clear the streets using cruisers, sirens and Tasers.

The officers’ actions drew national attention and were harshly criticized by residents, including comedian Dave Chappelle, who addressed village council during one of the heavily-attended meetings.

This year the fire equipment will provide a more secure blockade to motorized traffic, and the hope is the event will be as fun and “family-friendly” as it always has been, said Police Chief Brian Carlson.

RELATED: Report critical of Yellow Springs police New Year’s response

“We want to bring back the way it used to feel for everybody,” Carlson said. “Last year was kind of a fluke.”

The village hired attorneys to investigate what happened, and changes being implemented are based on their report.

The report concluded in-part that police should never use their cruisers or Tasers to disperse a crowd, that the use of high-decibel sirens was inappropriate, and that a police supervisor should have been present during the event.

RELATED Village, ex-officer come to separate agreement

The fallout from the New Year’s incident was swift. Former Police Chief David Hale resigned from his position in an effort to “heal the rift” that developed between the community and police.

Two police officers who were working that night are no longer employed by the village. Officer Allison Saurber resigned her position in February, citing differences of opinion on police procedures, and Officer R.J. Hawley’s employment was ended by a separation agreement in May.

Carlson was subsequently named interim chief and was made permanent for the position months later.

Carlson said working to regain the community’s trust was a high priority when village council voted unanimously to make him the permanent police chief in June.

RELATED Village retains attorney to investigate New Year’s Eve police-citizen clash

Carlson said “the biggest tangible change is mindset” in his department since Jan. 1.

“I suggest officers approach things with options,” he said. “If it’s a serious crime, we have to deal with it. But most encounters aren’t, and we do have options.”

Carlson said he tells his officers that it’s OK to be polite at a traffic stop and to ask “Is everything OK?”

“We want to de-escalate,” he said. “When you get pulled over, your rights are taken away momentarily. An officer can help ease that while keeping safety in check.”

Miami Twp. Fire Chief Colin Altman said the plan this year is “to bring safety, garbage bags and a friendly attitude.”

Altman said emergency planning for public events is important these days, and the village needed to adopt a more formal approach to accommodating the decades-long ball drop celebration.

Altman said it’s always been a fun event, and he hopes this year to see police mingling in the crowd, similar to what he saw one year when he was in Times Square in New York City.

“What impressed me among the millions of people who were there, was just how fun and community-focused the police department was,” he said. “These men and women were laughing and talking with the crowd and posing for pictures … It’s always nice to see police mingling in the crowd.”

Village Council Vice President Brian Housh said the leadership change in the police department was among the critical steps that needed to happen after last year’s incident. Otherwise, there was “not a major fix that needed to happen,” he said.

“(The ball drop) sort of highlights what the village is all about,” Housh said. “You see all the people that you live and play with. Literally, everybody starts to get chilly around 12:30 and mosey on back home.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Dogs save lost woman who had fallen in snow
Dogs save lost woman who had fallen in snow

Adam and Eva were not acting normally.  The labradoodles were pacing like they urgently needed to go out at 4:30  a.m. "(Adam) never tugged on my clothes before, so I was a cautious about letting them out because I didn't know if there was anything out there," Lonnie Chester told MLive.com. In the snow and darkness, the dogs...
Wright State union: Faculty offered 0% raise; to protest this week
Wright State union: Faculty offered 0% raise; to protest this week

Members of Wright State University’s faculty union are planning a rally this week as contract negotiations continue with the administration. The faculty union is planning to rally in the Millett Hall atrium at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to a Friday email that updated faculty on contract talks. Rudy Fichtenbaum, national president of American...
Hall and Oates, Train to kick off summer arena tour together
Hall and Oates, Train to kick off summer arena tour together

First it was Journey and Def Leppard, now Hall and Oates and Train have announced the bands will be doing a tour together this summer. According to Rolling Stone, both groups will play full sets before they both take the stage for the finale.  Tickets go on sale for most of the North American tour dates on Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. on Live Nation. >...
Clark County teacher facing hit-and-run charges due in court Monday
Clark County teacher facing hit-and-run charges due in court Monday

A Kenton Ridge High School teacher charged with vehicular manslaughter is due in court today. MORE: Clark County teacher deadly hit-and-run Kristine Baggs faces charges in connection with an alleged hit-and-run pedestrian accident that killed Lawrence Mason, 45, of Medway, in September 2016. She was placed on paid administrative suspension from the...
Walmart introduces meal kits with no subscription
Walmart introduces meal kits with no subscription

Walmart is now selling meal kits that require no subscription for customers. Walmart has joined the growing number of grocery retailers offering meal kits in December. Walmart is now touting that its meal kits are hassle-free, and it doesn’t require a subscription like competitor services like Blue Apron. Walmart meal kits come in several brands...
More Stories