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TRUMBULL COUNTY Citizens prepare to patrol

By Peggy Sinkovich

Friday, April 4, 2003

Those involved in the citizens video patrol will have guidelines to follow.
WARREN -- Thomas S. Conley, president and CEO of the Trumbull County Urban League, hopes a citizens video patrol will begin patrolling the streets in the next few weeks.
"We are interviewing and taking applications," Conley said. "We will have guidelines for people to follow and they will have to go over the rules with us before they start."
Conley asked for volunteers last week after allegations of police abuse against Warren officers.
The patrol will be asked to record activities of city police to document their actions.
No problem with taping
Police Chief John Mandopoulos has said he has no problem with people's videotaping police at the scene as long as the tape is not edited and portrays what actually happened.
The integrity of the tape is important, the chief said. If it is found to be altered, the people responsible could face penalties.
"The chief called me and said that if people are taking videotape, police officers can mark down their license plate," Conley said. "The chief said this would be done in the event that the police would need a copy of the videotape."
The chief could not be reached.
"I hope no good citizen would ever be intimated by any law enforcement officer while observing or video taping as long as they were in no way interfering with the officer while he or she is performing their duties," said Law Director Greg Hicks
"I can understand that a prosecutor or a defense attorney may want a tape of an arrest but I would hope that an officer would ask a person their name and address first before taking a license plate number. I would hope that this wouldn't be used as an intimidation tactic."
Thinks patrol will help
Conley noted he doesn't want to cause problems with the police but he feels the videotape patrol will help when allegations are made against police. He said several residents complained of police brutality last month. Police say about 100 to 150 people -- mostly teenagers -- spilled onto North Park Avenue early March 15 after a birthday party ended at the Comfort Inn downtown.
Police reports indicate there were many fights and yelling when officers arrived. Police arrested seven juveniles and one adult.
Conley said a 15-year-old girl told him she was slammed into a cruiser by an officer. A 19-year-old man said he was assaulted by police after being handcuffed.
The urban league has asked the Department of Justice to investigate.
Conley said a federal official contacted him and they plan to meet later this month.