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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 27, 2005

Ranger didnt stop men for driving while gay, inquiry finds

Dayton--Reports that police stopped two gay men for �driving while gay� were called �unfounded� by a police investigation.

�All allegations of misconduct are determined to be unfounded,� according to the internal investigation prepared by Five Rivers Metro Parks ranger Lt. Mark Arendt for Chief Larry Jones.

The May 19 report was completed in response to complaints filed against ranger Eric Wetterich by two gay men, Dale Rogers and John Adams, who were stopped on March 2 while driving on a Dayton city street, detained, and told to take the gay pride and anti-Bush stickers off their car.

According to Arendt�s report, Rogers, who was driving the car, was stopped for allegedly �traveling at a high rate of speed� when it approached the officer�s cruiser from behind, causing the officer to do a quick lane change to get out of its way for fear of being hit.

Wetterich said he also wanted to make sure the driver was licensed. A computer check of the car�s plates showed that the 1995 Buick is owned by Adams, who has no driver�s license.

The ranger gave Rogers a written warning for reckless operation, and Adams a verbal warning for not wearing a seat belt. However, he did not cite Rogers for any violation.

Chief Jones did not know why.

�Inexperience, I suppose,� he said. �I guess he thought the warning would make the problem go away.�

Wetterich has served on the force less than a year.

According to the report, Rogers �abruptly exited the vehicle and began yelling in an angry tone and approached [Wetterich] in what he considered an aggressive matter.�

�[Wetterich] may have been intimidated when they became aggressive,� said Jones.

The men were protesting the stop, and questioning the jurisdiction of park rangers to stop them on a Dayton city street, according to the police report and the men�s statements.

Wetterich also asked Adams, the passenger, for identification. Adams protested.

He told Wetterich, �You are just a ranger. I don�t have to give you anything.�

Wetterich called Ranger Terry Boshears and Dayton city police officer Christopher Fogle for help.

Fogle arrived first, and told Rogers that park rangers have jurisdiction on the road they were on.

Arendt�s report then confirms that Fogle objected to the stickers on the rear windshield and that he told Rogers he would cite him for obscured view to the rear if he did not remove them.

Rogers describes the number of bumper stickers as �a couple.� The report does not say the exact number or where they were placed on the window. It also doesn�t specify the car�s speed or anything else supporting the reckless operation claim.

It does, however, clear Wetterich of the allegation of stopping the men for �driving while gay.�

�The stop was made due to the aforementioned traffic violations and not due to any signs or bumper stickers displayed on Mr. Adams� vehicle, or to any presumption on the part of Ranger Wetterich as to the sexual or political orientation of the driver,� according to the report.

�This conclusion is supported by the fact that Mr. Rogers approached Ranger Wetterich�s cruiser from the rear, so he could not have seen the signs on the rear of Mr. Rogers� vehicle until after he passed him.�

Rogers and Adams could not be reached for comment.

Jones said the department has closed its internal investigation and will not pursue it further.

The Metro Parks ombudsman is still investigating.

 

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