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UPDATE: Police chief responds to fountain theft incident

The woman ticketed for stealing coins from the water fountain in front of the Logan County Courthouse attempted to mislead police about having done so, according to a press release issued Tuesday by Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley.

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Deirdre Romine, 38, of 1600 S. Detroit St., Apt. 21, was issued a summons for theft about 6 p.m. Oct. 7 after officers of the Bellefontaine Police Department determined she had taken $2.87 in change from the fountain.

A series of sympathetic stories followed about the poor condition of Ms. Romine’s residence, her empty refrigerator and the fact she apparently faced eviction. The Associated Press took note and the story found its way to news outlets across the country.

An online donation page to benefit Ms. Romine has brought in about $14,000.

Tuesday, Bellefontaine police issued a press release with more details from Ms. Romine’s interaction with law enforcement.

Ms. Romine at first lied to police about taking coins. When asked to empty her four pockets, she initially tried to only empty three, and when the last pocket revealed coins, she claimed they’d come with her from home.

“In this instance, it is clear that the actions of Ms. Romine were less than cooperative, causing the officer to conclude that a summons was necessary.”

Read Examiner Staff Writer Nate Smith's related column: BEING REASONABLE: The other, other side of the coin

The defendant has pleaded not guilty in Bellefontaine Municipal Court. A trial date has been scheduled for next month, as is practice for all felony or misdemeanor criminal cases.

“We remain confident that this case will be resolved soon,” according to the police chief.

Chief Standley noted his department and its officers have taken steps to reach out to the  community, particularly low- and moderate-income neighbors.

“The police department is active in community events and has increased neighborhood outreach efforts in the last year,” according to the press release. “For example, it is not uncommon for officers to purchase someone’s meal or give them a coat in the winter.”

Last week, the police department received a $1,000 donation from the Moose Lodge to purchase two ballistic vests, Chief Standley said.

He concluded by wishing Ms. Romine well.

“We also remain hopeful that through this process, that this encounter with Ms. Romine and one of our officers will be the catalyst to get Ms. Romine intervention to assist her in her daily life.”

Ms. Romine reportedly receives services from the Logan County Board of Development Disabilities.

Superintendent Saul Bauer is prohibited by law to speak about a specific client. However, he did provide a general overview of how the board interacts with clients.

“We serve individuals with a wide variety of abilities,” he said. “We serve people who can live independently with a little help from family and neighbors to those who receive 24-hour care.

“The law is very clear that people with disabilities have the same rights as anyone to make their own decisions unless there is a court order requiring they receive a service.”

DD clients can opt to work up to 5 days a week at the board’s workshop or not work at all. About 50 clients participate in the community work program.

As for housing, some live in group homes while others live in apartments and family homes.

DD clients are eligible for government housing, living and mental and physical health assistance.

Nearly independent clients may make the monthly decisions on paying rent, buying food and paying bills with their government allocations, Mr. Bauer said.

“There are a few of our clients who will not permit someone to assist with their fund and they can run into problems,” he said.

When that happens, the Social Security Administration — the source of disability payments — steps in and gets a court order requiring supervision.

Still, that may not be enough to keep a person in a residence.

Mr. Bauer said a small number of clients have been evicted for unclean residences, creating regular disturbances in a community, criminal activity or through lease violations such as taking in pets or allowing people to reside with them.

A list of services provided by the board is available online at http://www.logancbdd.org.

 

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