Not enough room in the jail? Tents in the parking lot may be an option, the sheriff said.
WARREN -- Sheriff Thomas Altiere has a message for people who think sheer numbers can run his deputies away from rowdiness in northern Trumbull County: "That will never happen again."
Last weekend, a deputy sheriff left the scene of a rowdy Amish party after being confronted by dozens of cussing, drinking youths.
"We're waiting for this weekend," the sheriff said.
Altiere said his department has a new directive, should problems arise.
"I gave these guys orders: If they ever encounter that again, you call out everyone you can get hold of -- Geauga, Ashtabula, Portage counties, and our own people -- and just arrest everybody they catch drinking underage and causing a disturbance," Altiere said.
"We'll find the room. I don't care if we've got to put up tents in the parking lot."
He said people shouldn't assume that his department, trimmed by layoffs this year, has no punch.
Last weekend's party
Officer Milton Kellerman reported Sunday that he'd gone overnight to 10051 Creaser Road in Bloomfield Township in response to a complaint about a "loud Amish party."
He saw 200 to 300 people at the party, which included "lots of alcohol and kids running around," a barn "jampacked" with kids drinking beer and youths breaking bottles in the driveway.
No one would cooperate with the officer who, at one point, said he was surrounded by about 25 kids. The young people swore at him; Kellerman returned to his cruiser and left.
"Can you blame him?" Altiere asked, saying the deputy did nothing wrong by leaving.
The sheriff's department has a contract with a handful of the northern Trumbull townships for Kellerman to patrol, seven days a week, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
"This is the first time that's ever happened," Altiere said of his deputy's encountering such a large rowdy bunch and leaving. "He knows we're low on manpower. I think, if he had it to do over again, he would have called for mutual aid."
The sheriff said he doesn't believe the situation would have gotten so far out of control as to endanger Kellerman's life.
The sheriff contends that because of budget concerns and layoffs, he can't afford to put extra people on duty for the weekends. Deputies who used to patrol the roads have been staffing the jail in downtown Warren, and some floors there have been closed.
The sheriff can, however, quickly call out as many as 10 of the county's deputies, as well as rely on other departments. Champion police, for example, are in the vicinity.
Cutting to the chase
"That's it. Underage drinking -- you're arrested," Altiere said.
No one was charged at the Creaser Road party.
The sheriff's department returned there Tuesday and spoke to homeowner Erivin Miller, who said he was home during the bash but was tired from work and had gone to bed, unaware police had been there.
According to that police report, Miller said he didn't know underage drinking was occurring. He had invited 50 people from work to a party and had purchased whiskey and beer -- but didn't furnish alcohol to everyone. He charged $5 a person to those invited, to cover the alcohol cost.
Miller said people showed up uninvited.
The property owner was advised by the sheriff's department that he's responsible for what occurs there, and could be cited into court in the event of underage drinking or should someone be hurt.
Miller "said he is not going to have any more parties," the report states.
Summer is routinely a time for parties and the rural Amish are no different as their youths look for new experiences, Altiere said. The situation last weekend, though, is the worst the department has seen, he noted.
"They party. Every weekend, they're going someplace," the sheriff noted. "The thing is, if they get intoxicated, the horse knows the way home."