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Mahoning cops say they’re limited by the law

Published: Thu, February 9, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Staff report


Law-enforcement officials say they take stalking seriously, but the law puts limits on how much they can do.

Stacey Sutera of Canfield was shot and killed Wednesday, and authorities said Robert McLaughlin, who had stalked Sutera, is the primary suspect.

Maj. Leonard Sliwinski and Detective Jeff Allen, both with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, say every harassment or potential stalking case is different. Victims are encouraged to seek police intervention for telephone harassment or anything that may lead to menacing by stalking.

Sliwinski said in most cases, a simple phone call from police ordering the suspect to stop the harassing behavior is enough. In other cases, more drastic measures must be taken.

“Normally, police get involved early enough to stop it; 99 percent can be handled by law enforcement telling the person to stop or threatening legal action,” he said.

Menacing by stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio but a fourth-degree felony on a second or subsequent offense or under certain conditions.

State law prohibits a pattern of conduct that knowingly causes a person mental distress or the belief that he will be harmed physically.

Allen said victims are told to obtain a restraining order against a suspect when the harassment is persistent or begins to increase in frequency or type of harassment.

That restraining order, he said, gives officers the authority to make an arrest if the person continues to harass or threaten the victim.

It’s when a stalker ignores the restraining order or does not care about legal intervention that things can become scary for the victim.

“It is frustrating. It really can be frustrating,” said Allen. “Other than the person calling the police and getting there as quickly as we can, there isn’t much more we can do.”

There is the option of keeping the suspect locked up, he said, but added, “That is not our decision.”

Sliwinski and Allen said any law-enforcement agency will make a special effort to keep someone safe when dealing with a potentially dangerous stalker, but it is extremely rare for police to be able to watch a person 24 hours a day.

“We can’t have our cars sit outside someone’s house eight hours out of a shift. They have to answer calls and perform other duties. I wish there was money to do that,” Allen added. “If someone is having a serious problem, we try to stay in that area, but it’s frustrating.”

Linda Bear, legal advocate supervisor for Someplace Safe, Trumbull County’s domestic-violence agency, said she has found that civil protection orders acquired through the common pleas court are among the best tools available to deal with stalking.

Stalking is a pattern of behavior that puts a person in a state of fear, Bear said. CPOs are a good route for many victims because they require less proof to obtain, compared to a conviction through the criminal courts, she added. And violation of a CPO is a criminal offense, she said.

She tells her clients to report incidents to police so they are on record.

Whether someone is stalking by driving down the street or through other means, the goal of the stalker is the same, Bear said.

“They just want attention. It’s about power and control.”

Contributors: Staff writers John W. Goodwin Jr., Denise Dick and Ed Runyan.


1LtMacGowan(715 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Forget it nobody ever wants to pay for the tax increases to get a more effective police force and a safer city

On that matter nobody ever seems to want to vote yes on tax increases for our schools either if its for new books, equipment or teachers, but if its down to a levy for either brand new metal detectors or replacing the ancient text books with new ones. They get metal detectors every time.

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2WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I love the boys and girls in blue and appreciate their public service and risks taken daily to enforce the law. However, the Police cannot protect you every second of every day. It is not their job. Their job is to investigate crime after the fact and enforce the law once it is broken.

You must protect yourself. This is the essence of SELF DEFENSE and every responsible adult is accountable for their own protection. If you or anyone else is depending on the Police to protect and keep them safe from harm, they are in dereliction of their duties as an adult- PERIOD.

We as private citizens do not need permission from the courts or assistance from the Police or a document from some authority. We already have the both the right and responsibility to protect ourselves- even with deadly force.

It does not appear from this perspective that Stacey did anything to protect herself. She relied on the Courts and on the Police to protect her and this is the outcome. This is the outcome all over this country. Had Stacey taken personal responsibility for her safety, armed herself, trained and prepared for her own defense, she MAY have stood a chance against her attacker. Instead, she was an easy target for a brutal assault.

Please learn from the mistakes made here. Take personal responsibility for the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones. Arm yourself. Train yourself. Prepare to defend yourself from an attacker. Otherwise you do not stand a chance.

More Police are not needed. More responsible, capable, armed and trained citizens that take personal responsibility for their own safety are needed.

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3UNCOMMONSENSE(627 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Swinger, it is unfortunate but she needed a concealed carry permit.

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4webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Swinger, you and people like you are participating in the ongoing war against women when you believe stupefyingly dimwitted ideas such as you put forth above. 99% of women are not naturally psychologically predisposed to nor physically equipped for violence. They rarely carry around weapons like you and the cops do and they are mentally not inclined to chrome up. Women have been slaughtered by men throughout time, everywhere around the world, primarily because men fear the sexual power women have over them. The law and the cops 'don't do enough' to scare and threaten stalkers with arrest and confinement based upon dangerous harassment as experienced by this poor deceased woman and as witnessed by others. Women are then left to their own devices. In self-defense, they obtain a weapon and kill their abusive threatening boyfriends, stalkers, or husbands who threaten, frighten, and beat them mercilessly and repeatedly. They then are thrown into prison for doing it. Swinger, do you know what it feels like to be afraid to walk through a parking lot alone at night? Women suffer threats and intimidation from men every day ... example: when they're aggressively tailgated by men with small penis syndrome driving gigantic vehicles and are treated in all manner of other disrespect by men who would never ever do the same to another man for fear of eating their own teeth for lunch. Cowards pick on women. Point of fact: Cops, the same ones who do nothing to protect threatened women, 'live' outside the dictates of the law. They have the same basic violent mentality as criminals but they operate behind badges when they beat, tase, shoot, and kill innocent citizens who piss them off by mouthing off. "We thought we saw a weapon." Boo-yah!. Swinger, you're a self-centered gunslinger (another small penis replacement accessory) and you are blind to the every single day plight of all women.

Ladies, now watch what happens on this thread. Some, attempting to rescue their manhood, will pull one solitary sentence out of this post and pounce on that, leaving the overarching point unaddressed.

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5juliab(1 comment)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Okay, Swinger. So an 18 year old female is considered an adult. Let's take an example of one leaving her house to go to class & seeing a male (of whatever age) who has been stalking her, approaching her with a gun pointed right to her.. What is she supposed to do? Run toward him to fight? Or run away while he's shooting at her?
Yes, I agree, knowing how to defend yourself is important and should be learned, but can't be applied in all situations. Your comment to this is insensitive to the woman who was killed and her family and isn't appropriate in this context, because even if she did fight back, this man was older, larger, and most likely stronger than her...as well as had a gun pointed at her.
As a male, you may see things slightly different, I get that. But at least have the slightest consideration for the situation that this woman lost her life because a mentally disturbed man was after her, not necessarily because she didn't know how to defend herself.

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6WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


I think you misunderstand my motives and my points. Stacey was unarmed and unprepared for a lethal attack. There was little she could do to fight back.

To answer your question about what to do, under the circumstances of having a known threat as she did, Stacey should have had a handgun in her palm as she left her home, deployed it on seeing her attacker, taken defensive shelter and fired with deadly accuracy into the chest of her assailant until he was neutralized. I hope you can see that Stacey had no chance to survive beyond that which she provided to herself, as is evidenced.

You say I am insensitive? I knew Stacey. She and I spent many hours studying together when she was a student at YSU. We shared meals together. If she were alive today you could ask her about me and she would tell you we were friends. I only wish I could have advised her on matters of self defense. I wish I could have been there to help her or to protect her. I am saddened and troubled at her loss and the pain of those that miss her. I am positive that Stacey would want others to learn from her tragedy and take steps to prevent the same from happening to them. That is the kind of person she was. She would want me to tell the rest of you how you can take steps to protect yourselves from her fate in these same circumstances.

You understand that she is deceased now because a human being intended to kill her and Stacey was unable to defend herself against the attack, right? Your position is that Stacey should not have taken steps to ensure her own safety and life? If we suspected there was going to be rain we would take an umbrella would we not? There was a threat. I only wish Stacey had recognized this storm approaching and got her umbrella ready.

If I had known of her troubles with this stalker I would have advised her to arm herself with a handgun, keep it with her at all times, train to use it effectively and practice a strategy of defensive tactics to recognize, avoid and respond to threats with deadly force if needed. That is just simple, good-sense advice and it may have saved her life. Please accept this advice for yourself and pass it along to others.

On a final note, you may want to examine your thoughts and feelings. As a male I see things differently? I don't think so. As a human being I see and feel things exactly like you do. I may have differing perspectives but that has nothing to do with my gender. The statement you made is purely sexist and is not acceptable.

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7WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


I find your thinly veiled attacks, repeated verbal assaults and attempts at sexual denigration of all men humorous. Are you able to address any of the points I made with rational discussion or is your hatred of men so blind and steeped in sexist feminism and misandry that you cannot think straight?

Hatred is ugly.

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8webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

There you go, Swinger, proving my point right off the bat. Talk about humorous. You are the clown here. You have no coherent argument regarding the substance of my post, so you attack the messenger instead of the message. Thanks to your non-segue, I now can rest my case regarding the dismissive and hostile attitudes of men toward women.

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9WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


Do you mean to use "non-sequitor" here? I think "non-sequitor" makes more sense than the unintelligible "non-segue" you used. Please check on it. You might want to consider working expanding your understanding of critical thinking and logic while you are taking steps to improve your vocabulary.

You would like me to address your points? This rambling, paranoid and hatred-filled garbage that you posted here is so twisted into a knot of logical fallacies that it is nearly impossible to address without throwing otherwise useful time down a rabbit-hole. However, I have come to expect and have worked on my ability to tolerate fecal-matter-as-argument like this from flaming leftist liberal goofballs like yourself.

Purely out of concern for your health, I think you should see your general practitioner. After reading the body of your commentary here and elsewhere I have come to suspect that the tetrahydrocannibinol from your frequent pot-smoking has combined with your seething misandry to advance your Bush Derangement Syndrome into full bore encephalitis. Get it checked before it is too late.

Now, please quit wasting our time and resources with this silliness. Address the points made in the original argument, stay on topic and remain rational or just leave and bother others that are closer to being your contemporaries and intellectual peers. Those would be down a few notches in case you were confused.

"Non-segue?" Thanks for that.

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10WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


And if you respond or disagree with anything I said then you are worse than Hitler. See? Two can play stupid games like that.


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11WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


Thanks for the advice and support. I appreciate it!

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12webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Swinger, your pissing contest gets one more response. FAIL. Your spelling as well as your definition are improper. I think you meant to say 'non-sequitUr' not 'non-sequitOr'. Yes, I meant to write non-segue because that means you didn't transition into a response to my original comment. Instead you chose to cry like a little baby about my tone. Now scram back to practicing your wordy boring copies and pastings.

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13WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


Yep, definitely encephalitis. And I see you are worse than Hitler since you responded.

In my dictionary "non-sequitor" and "non-sequitur" appear equally. Go check for yourself. But I will concede that on checking the interwebs I do find that "non-sequitur" is more commonly used outside of the legal profession. Perhaps I should have checked before I finished my message and used the more appropriate spelling of "non-sequitur" instead in this context. My apologies to you for this egregious error. One other thing I find on the interwebs is that "non-segue" is an illegitimate construction according to any decent linguistic standard.

Thank you for helping me improve my vocabulary. See? Good can come from accepting responsibility for shortcomings and from debate, even if this barely qualifies as one.

You should try it because I think we both know you meant to use the words "non-sequitur" there. You even elude to the definition in the previous sentence with your "...no coherent argument..." claim, which is stunningly similar to the proper definition of non-sequitur, "a reply that has no relevance to what preceded it."

But, hey, if you aren't secure enough in your intellect to admit your error that is fine.

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14WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


How does it feel do be outdone by a "self-centered gunslinger [with a] small penis..." that is "...blind to the every single day plight of all women..." and a "cry[ing] little baby?"

Best of luck at the D-bag awards. I think you stand a chance of winning.

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15webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago


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16Askmeificare(1266 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Super great article that states nothing about much of anything.

It does, however, offer a venue for police to give excuses to an innocent victims death.

Coppers- Next time just say your dog ate the homework while you enjoy your bagel and cappucino at your desk.

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17Askmeificare(1266 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

@ juliab:

Does the "b" stand for bitch or Julian?

Just askin'.

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18webad(156 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Re the Above: Swingers mother makes a comment.

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