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Published: Saturday, November 26, 2016 @ 12:00 PM
BUTLER COUNTY — The Butler County Common Pleas Court is about to expand its specialty dockets to include a new Veterans Treatment Court.
The emphasis on the court will be treatment and diversion, according to officials, and will connect veterans with services and a military support network that they may have lost when they returned to civilian life.
Butler County Common Please Court Judge Michael Oster Jr. has visited other local Veterans Treatment Courts, or VTCs, and said they are designed to break down barriers such as unemployment or under employment, homelessness, drug problems and other issues that may have contributed to veterans ending up on the wrong side of the law.
“We really want to make that camaraderie of bringing them together and not only the court holding them accountable, but themselves,” he said. “These are men and women who are disciplined … we want to add that (camaraderie) as well to really make them successful.”
The municipal judges in Hamilton and Middletown have been operating VTCs for several years.
Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall has been keeping statistics on his VTC since its inception in 2011 and those numbers show a 78 percent success rate overall, he said.
By far the biggest misdemeanor crime veterans committed was drunk driving (38 percent), he said. Domestic incidents involving substance abuse came in second with 34 cases, and there were 17 drug cases.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said the VTCs have had a great deal of success. The recidivism rate is what is key in any court case, and she said the VTCs appear to have that issue in check.
“The long term effect is what is important, where are they a year later, where are they two years later, is there a rate of recidivism…,” O’Connor said. “My understanding is the veterans courts have the lowest rate of recidivism amongst their population. I think it is a very worthwhile endeavor.”
The chief justice also told the Journal-News that veterans courts have produced not only veterans who don’t offend again, but people whose problems have been solved through all the various services they have received under the court’s supervision.
“By the time they get out they’ve got a high level of employment amongst their ranks, a stable living situation which they didn’t have, chances are when they came in there. Chances are they weren’t employed or they were marginally employed,” O’Connor said. “They have other indicators of stability.”
Wall said his veterans are hooked up with the Dayton VA, its social workers and myriad of services and the Butler County vet board. He said they are in the program for a year and the strict oversight the court provides is another success factor.
“Some of them are reporting back to me as soon as two weeks,” he said. “Then we can drop it off to a month and then six months…,” he said. “We keep bringing them back and they’ve got to verify they are in the program and they are doing what we recommend.”
For the county common pleas court to add a VTC, no additional funds are needed because adequate staffing is already in place. Unlike the other specialty courts, veterans don’t have to live in the county to get on the VTC docket, but they do have to have a felony case from the county.
Veterans who are already in the court system won’t be switched over, especially if they are already doing well under their current probation terms. But parole violators would likely move to Oster’s court.
“I don’t anticipate it being an overwhelming number (of veterans), but we’re not going to restrict it either,” said Rob Menke, manager of court administration. “We’re not going to say ‘we’re at capacity now so this veteran is not appropriate.’ We’re going to continue to offer services and if we need expansion with additional supervision officers or additional veterans justice outreach, maybe from the VA, maybe that’s something to look at.”
Butler County Court Administrator Wayne Gilkison said there are no leniency provisions in the program, and the veterans will be treated according to the law.
“It’ll be no different than any other offender that comes through,” he said. “They would be eligible (to have their felony record expunged) according to the time frames prescribed by Ohio Revised Court.”
Oster said he and the other common pleas judges felt this was a worthy cause.
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 1:18 AM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 12:43 AM
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Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 11:19 PM
KETTERING — A service dog is missing after he ran off when the vehicle his owner was driving became involved in a crash in Kettering Friday morning.
Officials say Zeus the dog, and his owner, a Special Forces veteran, were involved in a two-vehicle crash that ended with their vehicle into a pole at the intersection of East Dorothy Lane and Shroyer Road.
Zeus ran from the crash that occurred just after 11 a.m. and has not been seen since.
His owner reportedly suffered a broken jaw as a result of the crash and allegedly will not seek medical treatment until his dog is found, community members said.
Signs about Zeus being missing, as well as articles of clothing, have been placed all around the Oakwood, Far Hills and Oak Knoll areas where he was last seen.
Community members looking for the missing dog urge others not to chase Zeus if you locate him, but rather call the local police department.
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 12:44 PM
NORTH HAMPTON — A boil advisory is in effect for the village of North Hampton in Clark County, according to Jeff Clevenger, operator of record of the North Hampton Water Treatment Plant.
The tower pressure dropped under 20 psi, and residents need to boil water for three minutes.
MORE LOCAL NEWS
Residents should bring water to a roiling boil for at least three minutes before using it for drinking, cooking or brushing teeth.
Bacteria samples will be collected on Monday, and testing takes 24 hours.
The boil advisory will be in effect until at least Tuesday.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 12:08 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A mother said her 2-year-old was pelted nine times with paintballs while they were outside their west Charlotte home.
The 2-year-old had marks all over her body after someone shot paint at her.
Paintball wars have been gaining national traction since the beginning of the year.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said it has received more than 150 calls since the beginning of the year involving complaints about paintball gun.
The mother, who didn’t want to be identified, said it was a traumatizing moment for her and her daughter.
"She was screaming so bad. She said, 'Mommy, help me. Mommy, help me,’” she said. “That killed me. When I saw her with paint all over her shirt and her pants, my heart dropped."
The mother said she found welts on her daughter’s chest, back, knees and legs.
The mother told Channel 9 that a group of men were shooting each other on her property earlier this past week.
“I heard one of them say that's their way to, instead of attacking themselves with guns, they're going to do it like that because that's how they get the anger out of them,” the mother said.
The mother said she's not against people using paintball guns to settle their differences, but it shouldn’t jeopardize anyone else's safety.
She filed a police report and days later, she said her car was hit twice with paintballs.
The police department investigated the incident and arrested 17-year-old Keon Jaquez Broughton, who is facing charges for causing a disturbance, assaulting a child and resisting an officer.
The number of complaints the police department has received involving paintball guns is growing.
Meanwhile, local paintball gun stores are seeing a rise in sales.
David Veldof, who owns a paintball gun store, believes some people are having a good time at the wrong place.
He's educating customers on smarter options, including regulated fields.
"Over the past three to four weeks, we've had a substantial increase in sales,” Veldof said. "And believe it or not, a lot of people have been going to these fields and staying off these streets."
The mother said her 2-year-old has been seeing a counselor to get over the fear of being outside she developed since the paintball incident.