A former mayor of the Village of Walbridge is questioning whether police have thoroughly investigated a residential breaking and entering case and a nearby vandalism incident.
Bob Robson says he’s been frustrated by answers he’s received from Mayor Dan Wilczynski and Police Chief Ken Frost.
“I’m just asking for an honest answer,” Robson said last week. “Are you doing it or not doing it? Where are we at? I’m not trying to humiliate the mayor or the chief, I just want honest answers. I think we’re entitled to that.”
Minutes of the March 1 meeting of village council’s safety committee meeting state: “On going investigation of break in and vandalism in the area of Parklane and Meadow Lane was discussed with Chief Frost. Neighborhood interviews will be conducted. Discussion followed.”
Robson attended the meeting and doubts the interviews were conducted.
He went door-to-door on Feb. 29 in the Parklane Street/Parkview Drive neighborhood, asking residents to sign statements whether or not they have been contacted by police about a Feb.18 breaking and entering at 210 Parklane and a vandalism incident that same day at 200 Parkview, where his son lives.
The statements read:
• “Have you spoken with any member of the Walbridge Police Department in regards to the vandalism on 200 Parkview on February 18, 2012?”
• “Have you spoken with any member of the Walbridge Police Department in regards to the breaking and entering on February 18, 2012?”
Residents at 10 homes indicated they weren’t contacted about the breaking and entering, including the next door neighbor of the home where the break-in occurred, and residents at seven other homes indicated they weren’t contacted about the vandalism, according to copies of the statements Robson provided to The Press.
Robson asked the residents the same questions on March 6 and 20 and their answers were the same – they hadn’t been interviewed by police.
A majority of the residents contacted recently by The Press corroborated they signed the statements.
When Robson asked about the investigation during the March 21 meeting of village council, Mayor Wilczynski said information couldn’t be released because the investigation was pending, according to minutes of the meeting.
And at the March 7 council meeting, Robson and Joann Schiavone, a former councilmember, both asked about the investigation. Mayor Wilczynski was absent but Brian Ballenger, village solicitor, said information couldn’t be released because the investigation was on-going, the minutes say.
Robson said to council he believed the public was being misinformed and questioned whether the police department was doing its job if residents in the immediate area of the incidents weren’t being asked if they saw or heard anything.
Chief Frost last week confirmed the investigation is still “on-going.”
“We have been in constant contact with the actual victim to help us in identifying a suspect,” he said. “At this time we are not in a position to name any persons of interest, but we are, and have been, following up on every lead. I would love to share all the information I have with the general public, but that is just not possible without risking the entire investigation.”
The chief said he was unaware Robson had canvassed the neighborhood to ask residents if they’ve been contacted by police.
“We have put a lot of work into this and we do have some very strong leads,” Chief Frost said. “The leads are pointing into a direction I believe is going to eventually lead to an arrest.”
In late March, village police arrested a 21-year-old man and charged him for breaking into a Meadow Lane residence last November.
More recent breaking and entering cases – involving a residence in the 200 block of Raymond Street and a garage/apartment in the 100 block of E. Union Street – have also been solved, Chief Frost said.
He credited patrol officer Curt Schober for leading the investigations in both cases.
Fred Sloyer, who chairs council’s safety committee, declined Thursday to discuss the matter while the case was still under investigation.
“The police are doing everything they can,” he said in a phone interview.
Sloyer said he hasn’t talked to the chief recently about the investigation specifically.
“They know what they’re doing,” he said, referring to the solved breaking and entering cases.
Sloyer reported at council’s April 18 meeting that Block Watch meeting dates will be announced to residents by the One Call Now phone service two days prior to meetings as well as in the village newsletter.
Chief Frost said Officer Tyler Swerlin will represent the department at the meetings.
An organizational meeting is scheduled for May 9 at 6 p.m. in council chambers.
The chief said the meeting will be used to gather input from the public to determine what residents expect from the program, which had been plagued in the past from low attendance.
A resident, Nancy Revill, had raised questions about the Block Watch program at two recent council meetings, saying it was difficult getting information about meetings from the village administration.