Thursday, May 29, 2003

Mason in talks to get charges dropped

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - The city is trying get charges against its police chief dropped by cutting a deal with Municipal Judge George Parker.

During a special meeting Wednesday, City Council asked its court liaison committee to work with all the parties involved and reach a settlement. Among the recommendations: Providing a car to court bailiffs for transporting prisoners and having all Mason police officers resign from their positions as deputy court bailiffs.

The judge had Mason Police Chief Ron Ferrell arrested earlier this month after the chief refused to transport prisoners to his courtroom in a jurisdictional dispute.

Councilman Tom Grossmann said Parker had not signed off on the deal, but he hoped to reach a resolution by the end of the week.

Parker declined to comment Wednesday evening.

After his arrest and arraignment, Ferrell was released on his own recognizance and continues to run the police department. He goes to court June 12.

Grossmann said he had been talking to officials in Deerfield Township, whose criminal cases also are heard in Mason Municipal Court, and thinks the court could be provided with a vehicle. This would allow the court's full-time bailiffs to transport prisoners when Warren County sheriff's deputies are not able to.

The Ferrell situation involved suspects being held in the Warren County jail on charges filed by the county sheriff's office. Those deputies were too busy to handle the transport. Ferrell says he would have had to pull Mason officers off their regular duties to ferry the inmates.

Ferrell had been acting under an October legal opinion from the city law director that the officers were only obligated to transport prisoners in their own cases.

City Council also voted Wednesday to hire Stephen J. Smith of Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn in Columbus at $225 an hour to defend Ferrell against the charges.


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