Orion to deal with juvenile issues

Mindy Carls
Orion Community Veterans Monument

After he was threatened by a juvenile male with a knife, Orion resident Rick Cline decided to take the appropriate actions to respond to the incident.

That included describing the incident in Central Park to Orion officials at the board meeting on Monday, May 17, in the American Legion/VFW post.

Cline, a former board member, said at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 7, he was in Central Park with his grandson while a teenage boy and girl were using inappropriate language. He asked them to stop. They said it was a free country, and he appealed to them to use courtesy.

The boy pulled a knife on Cline, then left the band shell, Cline said.

After a call to 911, he said 30 to 40 minutes elapsed before an officer arrived in the park.

What if the boy had hurt him, or had used a more serious weapon? Cline asked.

The village’s purchase of security cameras has been a plus in collecting evidence about the incident, he said.

Since then, other incidents have come to light, Cline said.

Under its contract with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, the village has two officers assigned to it, Cline noted. The number used to be three.

Orion is saving money when security should more important, Cline said.

Village President Jim Cooper said he and the board members are very concerned. What happened to Cline should never have happened, and the board is going to take action to curb future incidents.

Trustee Steve Newman said the police contract is the village’s highest expense. When Orion decided to reduce the number of shifts with an office present, the county said an officer always would be nearby at times the village had no one on duty, according to Newman.

Orion would like to have more part-time deputies available for shifts, Newman said.

“We need to come up with solutions for coverage,” Newman said. “I don’t see it getting better any time soon.”

Increasing police coverage would require raising taxes, the trustee said.

“I’ll pay,” Cline responded.

Trustee Mel Drucker said he doesn’t agree with raising taxes. Instead, the village officers should walk into the park and talk to boys and girls, get to know their names and ask what’s going on.

Orion resident Ellen Berberich asked if the village had rules for the park, if the rules applied to harassments, threats and weapons, and if there are consequences for breaking the rules.

Cooper said anyone observing bad behavior in Central Park during business hours should go across the street to village hall and report it immediately. He also said he would be willing to go to the park to confront individuals until police arrived.

Cooper invited Village Attorney John Ames and his daughter, attorney Stephanie Ames, to prepare options for the board.

Stephanie Ames blamed meth addicts who come into town to buy and use the drug.

She suggested installing video cameras in Love Park, as well as having the day officer look for drug users and drug dealers there.

John Ames said before the village can ban someone from the park, the village has to go through court or an administrative proceeding. Both processes involve issuing notices, holding a hearing and having a qualified judge or hearing officer make a decision and apply penalties.

Community service would be good for these children, Orion resident Thad Johnson said.

“We won’t sweep this under the rug,” Cooper said. “We’re going to take action on this.”

Word will get out when youths realize the village is taking steps to address the issue.

Anyone with ideas about how to handle the issue is invited to call village hall, Cooper said.