In a letter dated Jan. 8, Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton responds to Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's accusations against the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department. Bratton faxed the letter and all other relevant materials to News 11 on Jan. 8.
In a letter to Bratton dated Jan. 2, 2007, Mayor Finkbeiner writes: "Twice in one week, members of my family have been treated less professionally than I believe we deserve," while at the minimum security jail to visit Mrs. Finkbeiner's son, an inmate.
In subsequent paragraphs, Finkbeiner complains that on Dec. 23, "my wife was denied use of the women's room at your minimum-security jail," and that he himself "was denied the opportunity to visit my stepson" on Dec. 30. At the end of the letter, Finkbeiner urges the sheriff to "act immediately to halt the rudeness and the governmental arrogance."
Bratton responded to Finkbeiner with a letter dated Jan. 8, which his department faxed to us. In the letter, Bratton addresses each of Finkbeiner's complaints.
About the matter of Finkbeiner's wife being denied use of a women's room, Bratton writes: "When the MSJ was constructed, public restrooms were not included on the second floor. Restrooms for inmates and staff are in the restricted area to which there is no public access."
He also advises Finkbeiner that "Public restrooms, however, are available in the lobby of the Port Clinton Police Department located on the lower level. We also advise the public that there is also a gas station in front of the complex."
Bratton assures Finkbeiner that he "will request that our maintenance personnel place a sign on the outside entrance door stating that there are no public restrooms within the Facility and that visitors may use the restrooms at the Port Clinton Police Department lobby."
About the matter of Finkbeiner being denied visitation with his stepson on Dec. 30, Bratton writes: "Please refer to Document No. 2, which was prepared on the date of the incident. It is self explanatory and was prepared by the deputy at the time of the incident."
Document No. 2, prepared by Deputy Byington, who took Finkbeiner's request to see his stepson, describes the incident. According to Byington, the last visitation of the day had already started when the entrance button was activated, indicating someone had arrived to see a prisoner.
Deputy Jimerson told Byington there was no time for another visitation, so Byington informed the visitor by intercom that there would not be another visitation that day. Byington reports that a male voice responded with, "I drove all the way from Toledo and I can not visit?" Byington reported telling the male visitor that once visitation has started, there are certain doors that can not be opened.
Byington states in the report that the man became "fairly loud" and stated that he was told visitation lasted until 4 p.m. Byington states that he again explained the policy but that the man "never stopped talking while I spoke."
In his response to Finkbeiner's claim of "governmental arrogance," Bratton said:
"In your complaint, you made reference to... the ability to recognize "governmental arrogance and rudeness..." It is very difficult for me to answer this statement because I cannot help but consider your track record as a public official and the way you have dealt with people."
"You had a 30-40 second conversation, and at no time did you hear what the deputy was telling you because you where continually ranting at him... I hope and pray that you are more attentive to your own employees of the city of Toledo than you were to the employees here..."
Finkbeiner says he and his wife will comment on the incident at an appropriate time and place, adding, "The arrogance was not displayed on the part of the Finkbeiner family. There is a bit of a cover-up in my opinion going on down there."
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