WOIO reporter didn’t understand warrantless pursuit law and her conclusions are wrong

CLEVELAND, OH – WOIO reporter Hannah Catlett’s “investigation” of Ward 2 Councilwoman Juanita Gowdy’s letter to Cleveland council president Kevin Kelly missed the point of the query.  Gowdy is a new elected official and she’s been going through records in East Cleveland’s clerk of council’s office to validate oaths, contracts and credentials of the employees and official with whom she’s interacting.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Juanita Gowdy is exactly right as a new elected official to review her city’s agreements with other cities; and to learn if employees have entered agreements on their own without the knowledge of East Cleveland’s officers. The WOIO reporter who obtained a copy of her letter to Cleveland council president Kevin Kelly didn’t comprehend the complexity of it; and thought she could prove a smart Black woman was wrong instead of simply reporting on her words. Hannah Catlett’s conclusions show she is clueless about the laws that control municipal governments.

Catlett obtained Gowdy’s letter and decided to answer her question to Kelly about whether a written agreement between the two cities existed that allowed law enforcement officers on either side to cross municipal borders to make arrests. 

Catlett’s not an attorney and her WOIO resume doesn’t show a background in municipal government.  She spoke to no director of law for any municipal corporation, a prosecuting attorney or the Ohio attorney general.  She did speak to a former mayor, mayor’s chief of staff, mayor’s special assistant and safety director who suspended Gardner twice; and who refused to promote the twice-convicted offender to sergeant. 

Despite the 4650 words the General Assembly of Ohio wrote into 2935.03 of Ohio’s Revised Code that instructs law enforcement officers of all categories when they have the “authority” to arrest “without warrants” inside and outside their territorial jurisdictions, Catlett accepted Gardner’s criminally-minded “interpretation” that only 28 words are applicable.

“… the peace officer, outside the limits of that territory, may pursue, arrest, and detain that person until a warrant can be obtained if all of the following apply.”

Catlett completely ignored the word “If” that began Section D of the Revised Code statute she accepted from Gardner as the only qualifying condition for cross border arrests.  What she couldn’t understand were the words that gave law enforcement officers the “authority” to arrest and when they were “granted the authority” to arrest.  The word “authority” and who had it didn’t connect with her.  

There is no agreement between East Cleveland and Cleveland that authorizes its police officers to enter the city’s borders on a warrantless pursuit.

Had Catlett read R.C. 2935.03(D) in its entirety without adding or deleting words, it reads in the following truncated manner as it pertains to municipal police officers for the purposes of this discussion.

“If a municipal police officer … is authorized by division (A) or (B) of this section to arrest and detain, within the limits of the political subdivision, metropolitan housing authority housing project, regional transit authority facilities or those areas of a municipal corporation that have been agreed to by a regional transit authority and a municipal corporation located within its territorial jurisdiction, port authority, municipal airport or other municipal air navigation facility, college, or university in which the officer is appointed, employed, or elected or within the limits of the territorial jurisdiction of the peace officer, a person until a warrant can be obtained, the peace officer, outside the limits of that territory, may pursue, arrest, and detain that person until a warrant can be obtained if all of the following apply.” 

I’m not going into all the other elements of a warrantless pursuit or arrest that must apply in addition to the pursuit outside borders being agreed to in advance between municipal corporations. The agreement between municipalities doesn’t occur because a cop crosses a city’s border and the cop on the other side says it’s okay.  

EJBNEWS obtained a copy of Catlett’s question to Gowdy about R.C. 2935.03(D) and she asked where the language for a “written agreement” existed in the law above.   Not only the question show the reporter didn’t read the statute in its entirety: it showed she didn’t understand it. 

Her question further showed a complete lack of awareness for how Ohio law authorizes the governments identified in the statute to enter agreements with each other through their legislative authorities.  What Catlett should have simply done was report about Gowdy’s letter without seeking to offer her and Gardner’s ridiculous legal analysis of its substance over the public airwaves.

East Cleveland’s mayor between 2006 and 2009 suspended Scott Gardner twice for insubordination and refused to promote him to sergeant. Gardner had written bad checks to security company employees. He also couldn’t stop running his mouth to the media about city business way above his pay grade. After 2009 Gardner was promoted to sergeant and later charged with two other detectives for stealing evidence from drug dealers. The letter above shows the plea agreement he signed to avoid a trial for being a tax cheater.

Ohio’s Constitution appears not to have been connected to Catlett’s training as a journalist covering government.  It makes reporters about as bad as the equally-unread elected and appointed public officials they report about for them not to understand no official can discharge the duties of an office without legal authority; or perform any act that is not authorized by law. 

Public business is required by law to be conducted in public.  Governments speak to each other and enter agreements through “written” resolutions enacted between legislative bodies voted.  In both East Cleveland and  Cleveland three readings are required before all ordinances and resolutions can be approved.

Catlett didn’t have the patience with WOIO’s tight news deadline to wait and read the following information that would have helped her understand the foolishness of relying on a convicted criminal unlawfully discharging the duties of a law enforcement officer as a source.  Short television news deadlines is the sole reason for a lot of uncorrected misinformation; and one of the reasons I don’t like talking with their smug-minded, short-attentioned-spanned newsgirls and boys.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley indicted Scott Gardner on January 29, 2014 for failing to report over $22,000 in earnings and for failing to collect withholding taxes from security company employees.

Had Catlett reviewed Article 18.03 of Ohio’s Constitution she’d have learned and been able to share the following “elevating” information to the benefit of WOIO’s mind-raped viewers and readers.

“Municipalities shall have authority to exercise all powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police, sanitary and other similar regulations, as are not in conflict with general laws.”

Under Title 7 is a general and unsuspended law of the state Catlett didn’t read.  It’s titled 715.01 under the heading, “General powers of municipal corporations.”

“Each municipal corporation is a body politic and corporate, which shall have perpetual succession, may use a common seal, sue and be sued, and acquire property by purchase, gift, devise, appropriation, lease, or lease with the privilege of purchase, for any authorized municipal purpose, and may hold, manage, and control such property and make any rules and regulations, by ordinance or resolution, required to fully carry out the provisions of any conveyance, deed, or will, in relation to any gift or bequest, or the provisions of any lease by which property may be acquired.”

Reiterating that governments speak through ordinances and resolutions is R.C. 715.03.  So for practical purposes, since this journalist is also a former mayor who managed five attorneys, the duty of the mayor is to seek permission to negotiate from the council; and then to be given permission after the negotiations are concluded in a separate resolution to enter the agreement after council approves it during a public meeting.  Like most of the general laws I’m citing that Catlett didn’t read, they’ve been enacted since October 1, 1953.

“All municipal corporations have the general powers mentioned in sections 715.01 to 715.67, inclusive, of the Revised Code, and the legislative authority of such municipal corporations may provide by ordinance or resolution for the exercise and enforcement of such powers.”

Now when it comes to police and fire departments the authority to organize and structure them is, again, another power of the municipal corporation and its officers.  Gardner is not an officer of the municipal corporation.  Employees have no authority to do anything but obey the ordinances and resolutions of the municipal corporation; and the laws of the state and nation.  So pursuant to R.C. 715.05, Gowdy has the power as do the other officers of East Cleveland to “organize” the police department.

There’s another statute Scott Gardner should review with his two convictions and working without OPOTA credentials. He was not a qualified source for WOIO reporter Hannah Catlett to quote. She should have spoken to a director of law.

“All municipal corporations may organize and maintain police and fire departments, erect the necessary buildings, and purchase and hold all implements and apparatus required therefor.”

There are several areas spread throughout Ohio law where the words “written agreement” is used to establish official relationships and interactions between governments and police departments.  This is also the issue with Catlett using Gardner as her source.  Police chiefs under Ohio law have no regulation making authority.  They have no contract authority.  The duties of a chief of police consist of one single sentence in R.C. 737.06.

“The chief of police shall have exclusive control of the stationing and transfer of all patrolmen, auxiliary police officers, and other officers and employees in the police department, and police auxiliary unit, under such general rules and regulations as the director of public safety prescribes.”

Notice that the police chief operates “under such general rules and regulations as the director of public safety prescribes.”  Again.  No rule or regulation making authority for police chiefs.  Gardner not a qualified source as a twice-convicted criminal who’s still offending. 

If anyone sees a police chief’s name on a regulation or a rule it’s a contradiction of this statute; and a duty he or she is discharging that is not authorized by law.

715.49 Preservation of peace and protection of property – noise ordinance.

(A) Any municipal corporation may prevent riot, gambling, noise and disturbance, and indecent and disorderly conduct or assemblages, preserve the peace and good order, and protect the property of the municipal corporation and its inhabitants.

(B) Anytime a noise ordinance of a municipal corporation is violated, but the source of the noise is located outside the borders of that municipal corporation in an adjoining municipal corporation, the municipal corporation with the ordinance may enforce the ordinance against that source as long as there is a written agreement between the two municipal corporations permitting such enforcement.

737.02 General duties – records – contracts.

Under the direction of the mayor, the director of public safety shall be the executive head of the police and fire departments and the chief administrative authority of the charity, correction, and building departments. He shall have all powers and duties connected with and incident to the appointment, regulation, and government of such departments except as otherwise provided by law. He shall keep a record of his proceedings, a copy of which, certified by him, shall be competent evidence in all courts.  Such director shall make all contracts in the name of the city with reference to the management of such departments, for the erection or repair of all buildings or improvements in connection therewith, and for the purchase of all supplies necessary for such departments.

737.04 Mutual aid contracts for police protection.

The legislative authority of any municipal corporation, in order to obtain police protection or to obtain additional police protection, or to allow its police officers to work in multijurisdictional drug, gang, or career criminal task forces, may enter into contracts with one or more municipal corporations, townships, township police districts, joint police districts, or county sheriffs in this state, with one or more park districts created pursuant to section 511.18 or 1545.01 of the Revised Code, with one or more port authorities, or with a contiguous municipal corporation in an adjoining state, upon any terms that are agreed upon, for services of police departments or the use of police equipment or for the interchange of services of police departments or police equipment within the several territories of the contracting subdivisions.

737.041 Providing police service without contract.

The police department of any municipal corporation may provide police protection to any county, municipal corporation, township, township police district, or joint police district of this state, to a park district created pursuant to section 511.18 or 1545.01 of the Revised Code, to a port authority, to any multijurisdictional drug, gang, or career criminal task force, or to a governmental entity of an adjoining state without a contract to provide police protection, upon the approval, by resolution, of the legislative authority of the municipal corporation in which the department is located and upon authorization by an officer or employee of the police department providing the police protection who is designated by title of office or position, pursuant to the resolution of the legislative authority of the municipal corporation, to give the authorization.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.


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