BLANCHESTER — At around 10:30 a.m. Sunday a Blanchester police officer was sent to the 100 block of West Burrough Street on a report of a suspicious person with a knife in the street there.
Ptl. Sarah Luken encountered 26 year-old Cassondra Richardson, who matched the description given by neighbors of the suspicious person, BPD Chief Scott Reinbolt stated in a press release.
Ptl. Luken found that Richardson had a fixed blade knife in her waistband. Richardson was barefoot, stated she lived in the woods and gave rambling answers to the officer’s questions, leading to the conclusion that she was probably under the influence of some drug of abuse.
“Ptl. Luken attempted to place Richardson under arrest for carrying a concealed weapon. Richardson resisted that attempt and struggled with the officer, grabbed her sidearm and attempted to remove it from its holster,” said Reinbolt. “At that point, two neighborhood residents, a 66 year-old woman and a 29 year-old man, entered the fray to assist the officer. Richardson was wrestled to the ground where she was handcuffed while still struggling.
“Her belongings were searched, and in them Ptl. Luken found a small quantity of suspected illegal narcotics.”
He said Richardson, who provided her address as “homeless”, was taken to the Clinton County Jail where she was booked on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest.
On Tuesday Assistant Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew McCoy was briefed on the case, and approved the filing of a charge of attempted robbery against Richardson for attempting to gain control of Ptl. Luken’s gun, said Reinbolt.
“I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the citizens who came forward to assist Ptl. Luken. Their actions likely prevented a tragic outcome. They are ‘heroes’ in the true sense of the word,” Reinbolt said.
Chief: Less funding, more crime
“For several years I have been warning Village Council that reduced funding and reduced staffing in the police department was likely to lead to an increase in criminal activity in our community,” Reinbolt said. “I believe we are now reaping what we have sown — increased crime, including an escalation of violence.
He said that between 2009 and 2018 the police department budget was reduced by $172,800.
“The only way to absorb budget cuts of that size was to reduce staff,” he said. “A reduced staff makes it very difficult for us to take meaningful steps to reduce and control crime, including pro-active patrol, crime prevention and drug interdiction activity.
“Make no mistake, many of those responsible for our increase in crime are drug addicts, committing crime to support their habit or while under the mind numbing effects of drugs,” Reinbolt stated. “Unfortunately, we live in a time when the majority of our elected officials seem to be more concerned with treating addiction than removing those addicted from our midst. While I am all for treatment for drug addicts, I am convinced that treatment efforts must include some measure of incarceration to prevent those addicted from victimizing others in our community.
“I believe the Blanchester citizens victimized by drug addicts would agree. I wish someone in Columbus would hear us.”