BLANCHESTER — Police charged a local resident after several unusual incidents, and the village’s police chief says the case highlights flaws in Ohio’s mental health system.
Chief Scott Reinbolt said that on four separate occasions Saturday evening, Dennis Dunn, 45, of the 100 block of Central Avenue, “called police stating that people were trying to break into his house and that he could hear their voices. Each time an officer checked the home and surrounding area and found no one about.”
On the fourth call, received at around 9:45 p.m., the responding officer reported he smelled burnt marijuana inside the home.
“Dunn told the officer that he smokes marijuana to help calm his nerves, then volunteered that he also grows it inside the house for his personal use, asserting his belief that growing marijuana under such circumstances is legal in Ohio,” said Reinbolt. “In a bedroom of the residence the officer found several small, potted marijuana plants. The plants were seized.
“Contrary to Dunn’s assertion, growing marijuana, even for personal use, remains illegal in Ohio.”
At around 4 p.m. Sunday Dunn called police again complaining that people were trying to break into his house, Reinbolt said, and an officer responded and again found no one.
“At around 11 p.m. Sunday police were called to the residence again, but this time by neighbors who reported Dunn in the yard with a pistol in his hand,” said Reinbolt. “The responding officer saw Dunn in the yard with a gun in his hand, but he retreated into the home as the officer pulled up. Dunn then came out the front door, with the gun still in his hand, yelling about people being inside his home.
“The responding officer ordered Dunn to drop the firearm. He did not immediately comply and was given additional orders to do so by the officer. He finally set the gun down on a lawn chair on the porch. A second Blanchester police officer arrived to assist, and Dunn was taken by police car to Clermont Mercy Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.”
No one was found in his home. “Luckily the situation was brought under control without anyone being hurt,” Reinbolt said, adding that the firearm was seized.
Early Tuesday morning Dunn, who had been released from the hospital, called police again, this time stating that people were pounding on the window of his home, Reinbolt said, and again police reported no one was found.
Early Tuesday afternoon Blanchester police filed charges of disorderly conduct, as well as illegal cultivation of marijuana, against Dunn, alleging that he caused alarm to his neighbors by his conduct on Sunday night and for the seized marijuana plants. He will answer the misdemeanor charges in the Clinton County Municipal Court.
“This is a case that illustrates the failure of the mental health system in Ohio,” Reinbolt said. “It would appear to me that Mr. Dunn is in need of some sort of psychiatric treatment. He was taken to a mental health provider in order to receive that treatment. Within 24 hours he was released, but continues to exhibit the same symptoms.
“Over the past several decades the State of Ohio has closed most of its inpatient mental health facilities, leaving few beds available for individuals who need inpatient care. Unfortunately, I am convinced that doing so has left individuals like Mr. Dunn without the care and treatment they need and deserve.”