SANDUSKY, Ohio — Following a series of 11 Investigates reports into sexual assault allegations inside Cedar Point employee dorms, the city of Sandusky has stripped policing power from the amusement park's police department.
The city announced the new agreement in a press release Friday morning. The statement said, in part: "The policing authorities of the Cedar Point of the Cedar Point Police Department will be fully transitioned into the Sandusky Police Department's operation, and the Cedar Point Police Department will focus solely on security operations at Cedar Point and its local affiliated properties. Conversely, the Sandusky Police Department will assume all policing responsibilities and its affiliated properties."
In early May, 11 Investigates, in partnership with sister stations in Cleveland and Columbus, released the findings of a months-long investigation that found that there have been 28 sexual assault reports from employees filed with the Sandusky Police Department during the past five years.
Multiple requests for records from the Cedar Point Police Department were not fulfilled. In a recent lawsuit filed by the Sandusky Register, the park argued that its department is a private security force, not subject to public records law. The department is headed by Chief Ronald Gilson and also has sergeants and lieutenants.
11 Investigates and our partners have obtained from the Ohio Attorney General's Office a list of former Cedar Point officers. That list contains close to 900 names. Several former officers have told us that they considered themselves a police department and that they attended police academy, were certified by the state, carried a gun, had arrest power, and filled out reports.
Those reports continue to be a point of contention between the park and media outlets. Sandusky Police Chief Jared Oliver previously told 11 Investigates that his officers, before the new agreement, responded to felony-level calls. However, some sexual offenses, including sexual imposition, are classified as misdemeanors in Ohio. He admitted that there was no way to confirm that his department was called on all sexual-related incidents.
In addition, during the park's season, all 911 calls from park properties are routed through the Cedar Point Police Department. With the park refusing to turn over its records, there is no way to access those calls or obtain records of the response.
In its statement, the city said Cedar Point has been evaluating its security operations since 2019 and that a third party was reviewing policies since July of 2021. However, a Sandusky official told us that the city began meeting with Cedar Point officials because of our investigation in an attempt to ensure that the Sandusky Police Department handles policing duties, thereby establishing a public record for all incidents.
Chief Oliver said Friday afternoon that his department will coordinate with Cedar Fair, the parent company for Cedar Point, on how many additional officers will be needed to police park properties. It is expected that the department will add to its current staffing, which is close to 50 officers.
The statement said that the transition will be completed by 2023.
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