Sunday, July 23, 2000

Twp., not sheriff, files gun charge

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Newport man was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in Green Township earlier this week by a local police officer instead of the sheriff's deputy who made the original traffic stop.

        But the incident does not indicate a new strategy for circumventing a judge's order barring the enforcement of the law, a spokesman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office said Saturday.

        Thedore Thomas Kasse, 30, of Newport, was arrested by Green Township Police Sgt. Daniel Eagle Thursday night after a .22-caliber pistol and 61 rounds of ammunition were found in his car. But Hamilton County Deputy George Maley made the traffic stop, calling for backup after spotting the ammunition.

        Sheriff spokesman Steve Barnett said the county only has patrol agreements with Green Township and Colerain Township, meaning that the situation that arose Thursday night won't happen much elsewhere.

        He also said officers from other jurisdictions would not be called in to make arrests under the concealed weapons law.

        “It's up to each individual jurisdiction as to whether to enforce the law,” Mr. Barnett said. “There's still a lot of confusion out there about this ruling and what it will mean to everybody.”

        On Tuesday, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman temporarily barred members of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and the Cincinnati Police Division from enforcing the state law that prohibits anyone from carrying a concealed weapon. He said he wanted to hear further arguments Aug. 11.

        Sgt. Eagle said the gun was not registered in either Ohio or Kentucky. Once it was discovered in Mr. Kasse's vehicle, Sgt. Eagle said a discussion ensued over whether Mr. Kasse could be charged and who should make the arrest.

        “We both called in and informed our superiors what was going on and we wanted to double check what we wanted to do,” Sgt. Eagle said Saturday. The officer said the discussion took “several minutes.”

        Mr. Kasse was freed on $2,000 bond later Friday on a single charge of carrying a concealed weapon. He could not be reached for comment.

        Making the decision to enforce even more confusing for local forces were statements by a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery following Judge Ruehlman's ruling. The spokesman said the ban would in effect bar all Hamilton County police departments from enforcing the law.

        “I feel we did the right thing,” said Sgt. Eagle.

        “We had sufficient grounds to make an arrest and bring the case forward,” Sgt. Eagle said. “The law still exists, and it's not up to us to figure out where to go after that.”


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