Police chief responds
I offer this letter in response to the one submitted by Tom Dimitri.
I remain apologetic to the community for the improper arrest of the young man on Nov. 26. As I have openly acknowledged since Nov. 27, as soon the mistake came to light, the Ashland Police Department failed this man, his family and the entire community. This failure came about because the officers on scene did not appropriately investigate a criminal complaint that they received at a local business. An employee of that business had alleged that a young black man wearing a dark colored sweatshirt had committed a misdemeanor offense.
This is not something that the officers fabricated, it was a criminal complaint. Considering that, yes, the officers had the right to detain a person seen walking away from the area, matching that general description, in a timely manner. The officers have that right and that duty. However, along with that duty comes the duty to conduct a thorough investigation. Again, it is in that area that the failure occurred.
Mr. Dmitri implies in his letter that we claim the right to simply stop and detain someone without cause who is walking down the street. I never claimed that right and Mr. Dmitri’s statements are ill-informed. I did, and will continue to, claim the right and obligation to detain someone who is reasonably thought to be connected to a criminal complaint. And I will, as I have stated from the beginning, insist that the appropriate follow-up investigation is conducted, which is not what happened this time. As always, I remain available to answer questions.
Tighe O’Meara, police chief
Ashland Police Department