Two sheriffs, two different idea of citizen involvement

In Lawrence County, when a wanted man was discovered breaking into a private vehicle, the Ironton Tribune reports that the owner of the car made a "citizen's arrest", holding the man until police arrived. Despite what many would consider to have been heroic act to keep a criminal off the streets, the newspaper reports Sheriff Tim Sexton is displeased.

From the story:

    A West Virginia man was arraigned Friday on charges stemming from what the victim refers to as a "citizens arrest" and what Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton contends was an ill-advised citizen detention.

    Donald Porter Jr., 29, of Guyandotte, W.Va., remained in the Lawrence County Jail Monday under a $3,000 cash bond on misdemeanor charges of theft and criminal trespassing. He was arrested by sheriff's deputies in the early morning hours of April 2 outside a Burlington residence.

    According to the sheriff's office report, the homeowners had heard a noise and determined from their security cameras that someone was in their vehicle parked outside their house. The male homeowner allegedly caught and detained Porter until deputies arrived.

    "I restrained the subject with wire ties," the victim wrote in his report. "I telephoned a neighbor... who provided back up (until deputies arrived)."

The newspaper goes on to state that Porter was supposed to have been arraigned in municipal court April 11 but failed to show up. When deputies arrived and took custody of Porter from the victim, he taken to jail and later released on bond! The Tribune states that later, authorities realized he was not entitled to bond since he was also wanted on other charges in West Virginia. Porter was later apprehended a second time and the newspaper reports that he remains in the Lawrence County Jail.

Again, from the story.

    Sexton said while the idea of apprehending the person who is committing a crime against you may sound satisfying, it can be dangerous.

    "I don't suggest that people go out and confront people breaking into their homes," Sexton said. "Fortunately, this incident ended with no one hurt. My suggestion is that anytime an incident occurs, people call the sheriff's office. We just don't recommend you go out and confront people."

Meanwhile, in Fairfield County, three boys are being called heroes after reporting a criminal's description and whereabouts, and because they aided deputies in searching fields near their neighborhood for evidence a burglar left behind.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

    The stranger knocked on the front door and asked for a ride.

    Eleven-year-old Andrew "Jake" Kidd, home alone on spring break from Bloom-Carroll Elementary School, quickly took the man’s measure, told him he was going to call his mother and shut the door.

    Jake reached his mother at work, and then gave a description to a dispatcher with the Fairfield County sheriff’s office.

    "I said he had a green camouflage coat on, with orange on the inside," the boy recalled this week, "and he had light blue jeans on, and he had black hair, and he had Nike shoes."

    Thanks to Jake’s sharp eyes and help from two friends who combed nearby fields with him, finding a wallet and checkbook stolen March 30 from a neighbor’s house, deputies arrested and charged a suspect.

    The boys are heroes, Sheriff Dave Phalen said.

    Jake and his pals, 10-year-old Christopher "C.J." Frazier Jr., of Lancaster, and 11-year-old Ryan Mayse, of Columbus, received framed commendations yesterday from Phalen in a ceremony at the sheriff’s office.

    "In recognition of the recipient’s significant contribution to the cause of good law enforcement," each commendation says.

    "They all did a great job," Phalen said. "They exemplify the community involvement we need to help solve crimes."

After describing the suspect's actions in burglarizing the home of an elderly woman in the neighborhood, stealing a wallet, checkbook and prescription drugs, the Dispatch describes how deputies were aided by the boys in searching for evidence left behind by the suspect, who fled after Kidd slammed the door on the suspect and called police.

    Deputies arrested Vallette at a McDonald’s restaurant on Rt. 33 near Carroll, about 20 miles southeast of Columbus.

    In the meantime, C.J. and Ryan had arrived at Jake’s house to play. The three boys helped deputies search nearby fields. Along with the stolen items, they found a little bag containing a syringe and the type of small spoons used to prepare heroin for injection.

    Deputies told Jake’s mother, Angela Holbrook, that the suspect apparently ditched the drug paraphernalia and the stolen items so that he would not be caught with them.

    The boys are pleased with their commendations. Beck gave them a reward for finding her stolen items.

    "I could have kissed them," Beck said. "The boys did a great job, and I can never thank them enough."

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