Monday, October 15, 2012


A North Canton Police Department (NCPD) officer pulled over Plain Township trustee Scott Haws at 12:05 a.m. early Saturday morning of September 8th.

According to an NCPD press release Haws was spotted by one of the department's officers making lane violations near the intersection of Market Avenue, North and East Maple Street.

Moreover, the officer is said to have suspected that Haws was driving while impaired.

To his credit, Haws agreed to take a breathalyser test (according to his attorney) and provide a urine sample (according to media reports).

How often have Stark Countians read about other public officials who have been stopped for similar reasons who have refused to cooperate with a police investigation in terms of submitting to sobriety tests?   Some of them have been members of a unit of Stark County law enforcement.


But Haws was a police officer's dream.

Again, he fully cooperated!

And what did it get him for for his good dead?

What all too many times happens to anyone who does good deeds?  (Ever hear the adage:  "No good deed goes unpunished.")

He got charged (on the 8th) with:
  • a misdemeanor offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI charge) based on subjective observation rather than the results of an objective test
  • before the results of the "objective" tests were in
As far as the SCPR is concerned, making an "on-the-spot" charge of a lane violation was completely understandable and reasonable.  The officer saw what the officer saw.  And Haws ultimately pleaded "no contest" to this particular charge.

So for the lane violation part of the incident, the NCPD certainly does not owe Haws an apology.

However, the "driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs" charge, in the opinion of the SCPR, is quite a different thing.

It now appears that the OVI charge on the 8th was a case of a "rush to judgment."

What was the hurry?

Haws isn't going anywhere.  From the NCPD press release published below:  His record indicates that he is a respected and devoted public official.

Get the tests evaluated and if they meet the statutory threshold,  Haws is going to be accessible and amenable to the additional charge.

We now know that there was no credible objective alcohol/drug test basis for Haws:
  • to have been detained until 1:22 a.m. 
  • and arrangements were made for his car to be towed, and
  • released to the custody of a friend.
And, of course, we know "the rest of the story:" - eventually the charge was dismissed.

Apparently, the only basis for the OVI charge was solely on the subjective judgment of the officer who made the stop.

And human beings do make mistakes.  We all do.

But no apology by North Canton for its mistake?

Here is the complete NCPD press release on Haws' demand that the department apologize to him for the OVI charge:
The City of North Canton is pleased that Haws was vindicated of the OVI charge. [SCPR:  Who believes this?] His record indicates that he is a respected and devoted public official. However, given the circumstances surrounding the reason for the traffic stop, and his behavior during the stop, the officer had probable cause to believe that he was impaired.

The officer treated Haws as he would any other citizen. Upon exhibiting signs of impairment — for his safety, and the safety of others — he was placed into custody, issued a summons and was released to a responsible person, all within about an hour.

The North Canton police officer followed standard protocol in this matter. Its officers will continue this practice. It will not apologize for doing so.
What the press release seems to ignore is that the officer made a mistake of subjective judgment.

And the SCPR believes that in glossing over a mistake which had highly embarrassing and unwarranted publicity consequences for Trustee Haws and compounding the mistake in refusing to apologize, the NCPD brought on itself an erosion in the public confidence of its policing procedures.

In taking this tack, the NCPD is following a practice of all too many public officials and agencies of government from the highest federal level down to boards of education.

Numerous examples abound where a public official has made a human mistake but then individually or through a department of government memo (sometimes both) adopts the attitude that "the king (i.e. the government) does no wrong."

Most of the time an innocent citizen has no recourse.

For departments of government are well known for their skill at engaging CYA operations.

But then the SCPR, for one, does not want to hear those same officials and their departments of government complain about a diminution of public respect.

They bring it on themselves!

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