The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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June 18, 2013

Ohio police chief takes criminals to task online

(Continued)

KENT — The chief loves justice, Westerns and dogs. John Wayne and Abraham Lincoln peer out from frames on the gray walls of Oliver’s office, where the 45-year-old chats with anyone who stops by.

His Facebook messages extend that open-door policy online for conversations about road closures, charity events, lost pets and whatever else crosses his mind. Some are serious, such as salutes to slain officers and updates during school threat investigations. Others are light-hearted, like the attempt to find an escaped swine’s owner with an unusual APB — an “All-Pig Bulletin” — or his promise to “ticket” child bicyclists with coupons for free ice cream if they wear helmets.

And, of course, there’s crime. One posting berates a man accused of physically assaulting a woman and two children. In another, Oliver suggests that hiding near an occupied police K-9 vehicle wasn’t a shoplifting suspect’s smartest move.

Resident Mark Mosley, a daily reader, said he likes such “humorous arrest stories” best.

“It’s one of those things, like you can’t fix stupid,” Mosley said.

His officers and others say the online character of the chief, a big, beefy guy, matches real life.

“He is definitely a very large personality. It kind of goes with his size,” local fire Chief Robert Keller said.

Oliver’s 15-person department handles more than 13,000 calls for service annually and deals largely with arrests for driving violations, thefts and drug crimes by out-of-towners. Arrests in those crime categories dropped last year but are trending upward again, and Oliver says it would take more time to determine whether the Facebook messages are having an impact.

Occasionally, his rants cover topics far outside his jurisdiction, among them the Boston Marathon bombings and the high-profile rape case from Steubenville in eastern Ohio. He rarely mentions names but doesn’t shy from addressing specific suspects or brands of criminals.

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