The Asphalt Scam

by Steve Wagner

Over the years, the City of Solon has encountered many types of scams. The most recent involves a work crew posing as a legitimate asphalt business. The scam has targeted businesses in Solon and the surrounding area as well as some residences.

Here is how the scam is run: A person posing as a “manager” or “supervisor” of an asphalt company will approach a business or residence and claim that they have leftover materials from a previous job and that they need to use up those materials. The “supervisor” claims that they will give a good deal to the business or residence should they use them. If the customer agrees to some work, the asphalt company will complete the work and will often do more than was agreed upon. When the work is complete they will then approach the customer and demand more money. The approach is often done with several males as an “intimidation factor.” A business recently paid out over $2,000 for unauthorized work done.

As with any company in the city, anyone doing any work or soliciting for business should have a valid City of Solon permit on hand. As a rule of thumb, one should also be suspicious of a company that solicits without a permit. I also personally never give my business to any company that I am not aware of and have not researched thoroughly. In addition, you should never give any personal information to someone who calls you or comes directly to your door.

Traditions

By Jay Bender

I spent a few minutes on Monday morning searching for something in my locker.

It’s one of those small items that seems perpetually lost. It’s nothing special, really. Just a black elastic band with a thin blue line through the middle. It would be insignificant if its symbolism did not carry so much weight.

History is unclear as to when police officers began to cover their badges with a black band when we lose a fellow officer. Some believe it was a carryover from a time when people wore a black armband to signify they were in mourning. Other sources state it is based in heraldry, when a coat-of-arms would be draped in black to signify a family death. Regardless of the roots, we know what it means today: A police officer has died in the line of duty. I was once asked why my badge number was covered, and the person literally asked me what I was hiding. I patiently explained that we had lost a fellow police officer. I don’t remember who we had lost at that time, but I remember the encounter.

At Solon, the decision to cover our badges is made at the command staff level. The decision is made largely based on geography. If we covered our badges for every officer killed in the line of duty, everywhere in the United States, we would be in a perpetual state of mourning, and our badges would never be uncovered.

On October 21, 2017, Girard Police Officer Justin Leo was murdered while responding to a domestic disturbance. Leo’s partner returned fire, killing the suspect. As a profession, we will mourn him. We will send our volunteer honor guard to attend his funeral, and we will try to learn something, anything, from this tragedy.

By tradition, we will cover our badges until Officer Leo is laid to rest. And may that rest be peaceful.

Transitions

By Jay Bender

When the people think of “police,” they will probably envision a patrol officer, a detective or some type of tactical operator. That’s understandable, since these are the most visible representatives of a police department. I have joked in the past that we are sort of like fighter pilots, not because we are some super-cool Hollywood  caricature, but because we are a relative handful of professionals doing things that attract attention supported by many dedicated individuals doing the behind-the-scenes work that matters every bit as much.

They may be the multi-tasking dispatchers taking calls and dispatching first responders, or the ever watchful, infinitely patient corrections officers watching prisoners, or the meticulous records clerks who manage the volumes of paperwork generated by law enforcement.

One of those people, Solon PD’s facility manager Dennis Simecek, is retiring today. His job title sounds simple, but from what I’ve seen over the years, it was anything but simple. Our building is much more complex than most, with HVAC and plumbing serving a multi-bed jail as well as evidence storage and processing, an armory, security garages, sallyport and office areas, each and every section requiring unique efforts due the mix of restricted or secured areas. Dennis handled or coordinated them all. He is a person who never seems to stop moving.

All of that, of course,  is in a job description. What has meant so much to so many of use is the way he pitched in, with enthusiasm, in so many other ways. I’ve been involved in many training exercises and community relations events over the years, and Dennis was always there, ready to do the countless little things we trainers are always forgetting. If we were training offsite, we knew the van would be loaded with fans, extension cords, signs, and coolers with bottled water and ice. When something needed fixing, Dennis got it fixed, or at least told you how to do it.

Beyond all that, we have valued his friendship and upbeat attitude. No matter how busy he was, Dennis has found time to share a joke or talk some sports. He always seems to remember what’s going on with our families and ask how they are. A quick hello to Dennis has always been one of my favorite ways to start or end a shift. If you know Dennis, you know he is a father who is rightfully proud of his daughters yet can talk about them without sounding boastful. He has a clever, kindhearted sense of humor, and I have to say he inspires that in others.

If you are fortunate in life, you will get along with your coworkers. If you are very lucky, you will find friends. And if you are very, very lucky, you will get to work alongside a Dennis.

Good fishing, my friend.

Dangerous jobs

by Jay Bender

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries list for 2015, I immediately wanted to see where my profession landed on the list. Being a police officer is an inherently dangerous job, so it was certain to be in the Top 10, right? Wrong.

Now, being anywhere on the list of deadliest occupations is not a reassuring proposition, but I was surprised to see that law enforcement actually ranked 18th for workplace fatalities. In 2015, there were 85 deaths in our profession, averaging to 11.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. Those statistics included all work-related fatalities, including traffic crashes and homicides. Law enforcement ranked well down on list, after mechanics, maintenance workers, taxi drivers, construction laborers, electricians and roofers. The sad distinction of most dangerous occupations goes to the fishing industry and loggers.

If you consider the working conditions of these occupations, those awful numbers seem all too logical. Nearly all of them involve using heavy equipment, heights, electricity or unpredictable weather conditions. Some involve all of those factors. And yet, when they die, it rarely makes the news. When a police officer dies, whether from an accident or violence, it is a noteworthy event.

The difference? Approximately half of law enforcement deaths were purposely caused by other people, and that kind of murderous intent is difficult for many people to understand. We can accept that a rogue wave or rotten tree can randomly cause a death because we can write that off as fate. It can be harder to comprehend human nature.

A different kind of courage, for a different kind of danger.

 

 

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