2007-03-10 / Editorials & Letters

Writer says police search his home violated his rights


I'm a resident of the Village of Buckeye Lake and have owned a business here for 18 years. I'm also a registered voter, U. S. Army veteran and lived in the lake area for 34 years.

I've only been to one town meeting and that was to support our police department several years ago. I went on the belief that the fellows I grew up with on that department would do a better job dealing with their friends and neighbors than a stranger from the sheriff's office.So it is hard for me to complain.

My home is on the North Bank . I leave the rear door unlatched, but shut during the day. It is locked during the night. My living room, officeand kitchen is on the lakeside of the home and I can't hear knocks at the rear door since two interior doors separate it from the lakeside part of my house. I've placed a red arrow directing all visitors to come around to the lake front door.

A couple days ago in the early afternoon, I brought a client to my home office to look at some remodeling products. When I realized I needed some additional information from a nearby job site, I left my client, a babysitter and my 17-year-old son in the living room and office.

The following is not an allegation; I have the documents to back it up. While I was gone, a Licking County Deputy came to the rear door to serve a warrant on my juvenile son for a curfew violation. This knocked the door ajar and he then contacted Buckeye Lake Police Chief Ron Small for assistance. The two then entered that door and were in the back 2,400 square feet of my 3,000 square foot home for an unknown amount of time. Their presence wasn't detected until they opened an interior door into my living room. They identified themselves to the babysitter, arrested my son and left.

When I returned, I promptly called Chief Small for an explanation. He told me that when the door came ajar, the deputy didn't want to enter alone so he went in with him. When I asked him why they entered without a search warrant, he said they entered out of a concern for burglars.

When I asked him why one of them didn't go around to the front to watch for the possible burglars fleeing (where they would have seen three people in my home through a large window), he told me I was out of line and should call the sheriff's office.

I did just that, filing a formal complaint with the sheriff's officeand the county prosecutor's office.Then I went to our village officewhere the clerk told me that a formal complaint had never been filed against our police department and that she didn't know how or where to do it.

I called Mayor Frank Foster who said I should filethe complaint with him. I did so and included a copy of the arrest warrant for my 17-year-old son's curfew violation. The warrant does NOT order a search of my home.

I am very concerned about the violation of our constitutional rights. I am willing to lose some friends and comfort to protect our rights. Once an American soldier, always a soldier. I am waiting on the resolution, not revolution. An American, father, grandfather and your neighbor.

Chris Fowler Buckeye Lake

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