Pictured subjects feel targeted
People on released Ashland Police Department watch sheet say angered at police, newspaper
An Ashland Police Department "watch sheet" being released to the public has caused considerable ire among the people on their list and, in some instances, their family members.
The people are upset with both local police for creating and releasing the list and with this newspaper for publishing it.
"I feel I’ve been violated," said Clifford Quigley, who was on the list and also recently pleaded guilty to vandalizing the Plaza fountains. "It’s been in businesses around town. I’ve noticed it in Safeway."
Another man on the list, Jeffrey Bonczyk, said employees of Safeway have addressed him by name. "I’ve had complete strangers say to me in Safeway, ‘see ya later, Jeff."
Ashland Police created a "watch sheet" to share with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce at a private meeting in April. The list was created, said Sgt. Teresa Selby in an internal memo, to deal with "issues we have been dealing with in the downtown area." The list includes names, photos and dates of birth for 24 people known to live or reside in the Ashland area. APD has not released the criteria for creating the list.
The Tidings published the list after receiving a copy of it from former Police Chief Mike Bianca.
None of these men who were interviewed knew what they did to warrant being included on the list. Quigley assumed it was for his role in the vandalizing the Plaza fountains, which he said was exaggerated because of the politics embroiling downtown Ashland.
Timothy Reeki, another man on the list, said he had only open container violations. Bonczyk said he has been arrested for disorderly conduct for lighting a sparkler in Lithia Park.
"Everyone on that list, the only thing we have in common is that we are all poor," Bonczyk said.
Patrick Gilbert, identified as "Permafry Pat" on the "watch sheet" said he sees the list as a city-wide issue, rather than one limited to the police department.
"I don’t see it as the cops fault," he said. It’s city hall. It’s the people who make the laws. The cops don’t want to harass us like that."
Deborah Griffith, whose nephew Benjamin Griffith was on the "watch sheet," said her family is considering suing APD over the ordeal.
"I think police have been targeting him," she said. "It’s not like he’s a major criminal. He’s a young man trying to put his life back together. This doesn’t help his reputation."
She said her nephew has had problems with substance abuse in the past and spent some time in a rehabilitation clinic. Since then, he has moved in with his grandmother in Phoenix and is employed at a gas station there. Both Deborah and Benjamin’s grandmother, Marie Griffith, fear the publication of his picture in association with the "watch sheet" will make it difficult for his to get a job in the future.
"I hope he doesn’t lose his job because of it," Marie Griffith said.
She spoke with Sgt. Teresa Selby, who created the list, last night. Griffith said Selby told her the list was created to deal with ongoing problems on the Plaza. Business leaders and city officials have met several times to discuss what they consider a new, more aggressive element on the Plaza.
"She said they are cleaning up the Plaza area," Griffith said. "She said they got together with the [Ashland] chamber of commerce. I told her, ‘this is your work, not the chamber of commerce.’ I thought the whole thing was very strange."
Selby, who works from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., could not be reached for comment.
Rose McAuley, whose son Joshua Maltsberger was on the list, said she was more upset with the Daily Tidings for publishing the list than she was with Ashland police for creating it.
"I couldn’t believe that a newspaper would publish that," she said. "It’s like saying they are guilty until proven innocent. Why not just put these people in stockades on the Plaza."
Others, such as Deborah Griffith, said that the issue has been brought to the public’s attention through the newspaper could have a positive effect on the situation. "In a way the article was good," she said. "It shows what the police are doing."
Ashland Police Public Information Officer Bob Smith said one man on the list, Joshua Maltsberger, was added to the list after it was shared with the chamber of commerce. He did not know why this happened.
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