E-mail sent moments ago to Mr. Garth, the other Cincinnati lawyer, and the two transportation people:
Gentlemen & Ms. Hardin,
I’m not sure who to address this to at SORTA/Metro, so I’ve addressed it to multiple people. I’ve cced officers from CPD because I want to compliment their staff.
This afternoon (10/18/16) at 1:25 PM I boarded an outbound route 19 bus at the intersection of E. McMillan & Vine Street. Boarding with me were two older black gentlemen, one with multiple white bags (of groceries?), the other a fellow with I believe an Air Force Veteran hat. I was wearing khaki shorts, a white shirt with blue horizontal stripes, and a single handgun openly carried in a retention holster on my right hip.
I had a transfer ticket that I gotten from the last bus I was on, and as I boarded I asked the driver (a black female) what I should do with it, since I haven’t been on a bus in a number of years. The bus driver instructed me where to insert the ticket and I did so. Nothing further was said by either of us. The bus was pretty full, but I spotted an open seat in the middle back of the bus, where I sat.
The bus proceeded down Vine Street, stopped once I believe, then turned left on W. Nixon, then right on Jefferson Avenue. The bus stopped at Jefferson & Ruther and a black man in a white shirt (who I presumed to be a supervisor, and was later identified to me as Damien Scearce) got on the bus and motioned to me, saying (I think) “I need you to come up here”, and I said “No, come on back”. He got off the bus, I continued to sit in my seat, and to my shock some of the passengers said ‘These Metro people are so stupid! If you have a license you can carry on the bus!”. Others protested the delay, so I got up and walked to the front of the bus. The supervisor got back on and said “The police are coming”, to which I responded “Good”, and remained on the bus.
At some point during our initial contact (before I deboarded) I told Mr. Scearce that he should get ahold of his superiors because he clearly didn’t know the law, but he responded that he had already done so.
Not wanting to be left in Clifton when my car was in Mt. Airy, and unsure how the CPD officers would handle the matter, I placed a call to 911 (1:39 PM) and asked to be connected to Asst. Chief Neudigate, who I know knows Ohio law. Since I was still on the bus, and it was hard for me to hear, I think I was connected to the Chief’s secretary, who told me that both the Chief and the Asst. Chief were out of town.
An officer (later identified at T. Campbell, PS600, District 5) came to the door of the bus, told me that he knew I was legally carrying, and asked me to get off the bus. I told him that I didn’t want to, I wanted to get home. He said he would take me home once matters were resolved, so I got off. During my initial contact with Officer Campbell, and during our subsequent conversation, he made it clear that “we” (CPD) knew the law, but that Metro’s policy was ‘No guns on the bus unless the person is in uniform”.
I offered Officer Campbell my Concealed Handgun License and ID, which I believe he looked over and gave back to me, then later asked for them again because the Metro Supervisor asked for my information. I didn’t mind giving it at the time, but the more I think about it, I want my personal information eliminated from SORTA/Metro’s records.
Shortly after I got off the bus, one of the older gentlemen (the veteran) I boarded with was ordered to get off by the bus driver. I believe she said something to the effect of “This bus isn’t going anywhere until you get off!”. I asked him what had happened and he said that he had merely said ‘When are we going to move?’ I think the bus driver’s decision was one of spite. I asked one of the CPD officers if she was going to ensure that he got home, and she said that the Metro supervisor would see to it.
Mr. Scearce was completely unhelpful and unwilling to give his name, even moving around when I tried to read his name badge. I only confirmed what I thought I read on his name badge because of the intervention of Officer Campbell. He listed his number as 632-7550.
I briefly spoke to the UC Police Officer (young, white male) who arrived as matters were concluding, then Officer Campbell drove me to my car in Mt. Airy.
The CPD officers on-scene were clearly aware of the law, conducted themselves professionally, and have my compliments. I believe there were a total of three CPD officers near the bus, and two more who arrived and either left or stayed in their vehicles.
On the other hand, gentlemen & Ms. Hardin – you have some decisions to make/serious work to do. First, my e-mail below (10/11/16) has not been responded to, so I’m left to wonder why it is that Mr. Scearce’s inquiry of his superior(s) came back with ‘No guns on buses unless one is in uniform”. That begs the question: Is Metro’s apparent policy in conflict with Ohio law as I’ve described it, or does Metro have a training issue?
I’m sure you can imagine what I might request if various people insist on forcing me to do a number of records requests – both of Metro and of the CPD. I also have my own audio recording.
1) I want SORTA/Metro’s policy clearly spelled out so I can proceed as appropriate, or 2) if SORTA/Metro’s policy is silent on the matter of firearm carry on buses (& the trolley), as is indicated by the absence of signage on the interior and exterior of the buses I rode on today, I want, at minimum, a copy of the training material used to bring all line and supervisory staff up to speed on the law and SORTA/Metro policy.
I hope and expect I will receive a prompt reply to this e-mail.