department

Weather Conditions Still Treacherous

All Pottawatomie County roads remained slick and hazardous and many were littered with stalled vehicles Wednesday, so officials are still urging people to stay home.

Don Lynch, Shawnee/Pottawatomie County emergency management director, said the stalled cars are making it difficult for crews to clear roadways, and continuing northerly winds Wednesday were expected to lead to further drifting. Several road closures remained mid-day Wednesday, including the southbound on-ramp to U.S. 177 from Kickapoo Spur and the northbound U.S. 177 off-ramp to Farrall Street, both because of abandoned vehicles, Lynch said.

Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Capt. Travis Palmer said he still was discouraging travel Wednesday as deputies, with four-wheel drive units, were having difficulty maneuvering roadways. “The highways are snow-packed and the east and west roads are full of snow drifts,” Palmer said, after making his way up U.S. 177 from Asher. “And the wind child out here is brutal.” And while the sun was shining Wednesday, Palmer said people shouldn’t get a false sense of security because nothing was melting. “Unless it’s an extreme emergency, don’t get out,” Palmer said, adding wrecker services were hours behind getting people unstuck after they chose to get out. There hadn’t been any reports of major accidents or injuries related to the storm, he said, but wanted to urge caution for those “playing” in the snow. A woman was killed in Oklahoma City Tuesday night, Palmer said, while being pulled behind a vehicle on some type of fashioned-sled. He advises against doing that, as there’s no control over that object in the snow. “It’s fun, but I don’t think people realize how dangerous that is,” Palmer said, encouraging everyone to have fun, but to do so in a safe manner.

Lynch said city of Shawnee street crews were continuing to plow major streets, adding most major streets have at least one lane open in both directions, but all secondary streets remained snow packed and treacherous. “We continue to urge people to stay off the roads unless it is an absolute emergency,” Lynch said. No major power outages were reported as of mid-Wednesday, although there were some reports of water pressure issues in the city of Tecumseh. A vehicle wreck damaged a fire hydrant on North Broadway Tuesday night, Lynch reported, resulting in a water line failure and low water pressure. The line break has been repaired but during the process an electrical problem occurred at the water treatment plant. Demand Wednesday morning created a situation of nearly no water pressure in Tecumseh. Crews reportedly got the electrical service restored and the pumps started, but as tanks are filling, water pressure is low, said Melvin Potter, Tecumseh’s emergency manager and E-911 director.

Both the E-911 center and city of Tecumseh were being flooded with calls reporting water issues. Potter said they’ve had numerous calls relating to the water issues and people asking about road conditions.  “We have had no major problems reported besides some semi-trucks tying up traffic,” Potter said.

Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney said main roads were somewhat better Wednesday, but secondary roads remained treacherous and several vehicles continued to get stuck. “It’s still 12 degrees,” Kidney said Wednesday afternoon. “Even though the sun is out, everything is still frozen and slick.”

The winter storm closed a number of businesses.

The Shawnee Fire Department responded with REACT EMS to calls and responded to one residential smoke alarm activation, with REACT responding to nine calls since midnight.

Greg Reid, director of REACT EMS, said most of the calls were for people who couldn’t drive themselves to the hospital, including a woman in labor. Two women were taken to the hospital for labor Tuesday.  Overall, Reid said mid-Wednesday things had been going fairly well, but said even the large ambulances were sometimes getting stuck on snow-packed roadways, so he still advises motorists to stay home. Luckily, paramedics hadn’t responded to any calls of hypothermia in these conditions, he said.

Lynch reports the cities of Asher and Maud had similar road issues.  The Shawnee Police Department responded since midnight to at least four non-injury accidents.

2009 Shop with a Cop!

It doesn’t take 9-year-old Preston Gunter long to shop. Just a few minutes after he headed into the wilds of Wal-Mart during Sunday’s Shop with a Cop, he was standing in the checkout line with Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Troy Thompson, his shopping buddy. In his cart: an Indiana Jones video game, a Bakugan game and a large bag of Butterfingers. There was one problem. He hadn’t spent enough — there was money remaining on his gift card. So, off he went again with Trooper Thompson, quickly returning with a case for the Bakugan game. “He knew what he wanted and he knew right where to go,” Thompson said. “There were only three of the games, so he was glad he got to be one of the first to go.”
For his part, Preston didn’t say much, but his frequent smiles spoke volumes. He was one of 97 children taking part in Leadership Shawnee’s Shop with a Cop. The Shawnee Chamber of Commerce annually sponsors Leadership Shawnee and requires each class to have a project. This year’s class decided to organize Shop with a Cop and raised $7,500 to buy $75 gift cards for 92 children and presents for five of their siblings who were younger than 18 months. The 92 older children were paired up with a local enforcement officer as a shopping partner. For about two hours, the area just south of Wal-Mart’s book section was packed with children, their parents, cops and Leadership Shawnee class members. Everyone involved genuinely seemed to enjoy the experience. “All the policemen are smiling and all the kids are smiling,” said Felicia Freeman, one of the Leadership Shawnee class members. “It feels good just knowing that we helped make the kids have a good Christmas.” A total of 39 officers from the Shawnee, McLoud and Tecumseh police departments, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the Absentee Shawnee Nation volunteered to help the youngsters shop. Dan Shumaker of the Shawnee Police Department said he was glad he had the opportunity to participate. His first shopping partner was a girl who bought clothes. “Her father thanked me over and over and over,” Shumaker said. “With the economy being the way it is, this is perfect timing. You could see in her face that it made a difference.” Wal-Mart supplied cookies and Hawaiian Punch for the shoppers, their parents and the cops. Brenda Burkey, a department manager, came in on her day off to run a register at a line dedicated for Shop with a Cop sales only. “I’m a sucker for the kids,” she said. “You could see their eyes light up. It was just magic.”
For some shoppers, particularly the older ones, it went fast indeed. Some of the younger ones took a more leisurely pace, savoring the moment and the company of the cop. And the program had an unintended benefit for one person not involved in Shop with a Cop. A lady went to the check-in table to sternly ask how long the policemen would be tied up at the store. When told about another hour and a half, she brightened.
“That’s great — I’m going to speed on my way home.” Despite the potential for abetting in the violation of speed laws, members have discussed continuing Shop with a Cop next year and making it annual event.

Shawnee PD/Pottawatomie County Sheriff Partner on Grant Submission

The Shawnee Police Department is applying for a 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant along with the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office. The Shawnee Police Department is seeking equipment to enhance public safety such as radar devices and road spikes and looking to purchase equipment for officer safety such as M-4 rifles, walkie talkie mics and an additional 14 tasers. We are also looking to update technology with cameras and undercover equipment to assist with investigations and to get on board with an electronic ticketing system. This system will allow officer to expedite public contacts and will give them much needed information with the sweep of a driver’s license or a scan of a license tag sticker. The Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office is also seeking much basic equipment and a bulk of their request is for investigative purposes. Evidence collection material such as print kits, casting kits, evidence labels, portable fuming chamber and an investigators camera is needed. They are also seeking to obtain 25 Glock pistols to be used by Deputies on patrol. Tasers and road spikes are also being requested. The City of Shawnee was given an individual eligible allocation of $106,831.00, while the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office was given an individual eligible allocation of $36,905., all totaling to $143,736.00. Under this grant however, the two entities must work together and apply for the money total figure of the $143,736.00. This application process must go through only one of the organizations. The Shawnee Police Department and the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office, through the relationships built between Chief Russell Frantz and Sheriff Mike Booth have come to the following agreement for the funds requested. The City of Shawnee, Police Department will receive $102,065.50 of the allocated money and the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office will receive $41,659.05 of the allocated money. The grant will be managed through the Shawnee Police Department with the assistance of the Sheriff’s Office. Following is a list of the items being requested by each organization.

Any questions relating to this grant can be submitted to Chris Thomas, Administrator of Support Services of the Shawnee Police Department at 405-878-1638 or Deputy Chad Pope of the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office at 405-273-1727

Missing Tecumseh teen, alleged kidnapper found in Washington

A 14-year-old Tecumseh girl, missing since Feb. 2., and the 40-year-old man who reportedly took her, were found in the state of Washington Saturday afternoon during a routine traffic stop.  Lt. J. R. Kidney of the Tecumseh Police Department said that James Joseph Reimer, 40, was arrested during a routine traffic stop by the Washington State Highway Patrol. The Tecumseh teenager, Deborah Kalai Fourzan, 14, was with him at the time and Kidney said he was told the girl was believed to be safe and not harmed.  He said both Fourzan and Reimer, who has turned 41 since he left town with the teen, were taken to the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Department in Montesano, Wash., about 50 miles from where Reimer was stopped and arrested. The arrest took place near the small town of Hoquiam, Wash., Kidney said, and he was informed by a sergeant with the state’s highway patrol Kidney said that Reimer was arrested and is being held on a $100,000 warrant that was filed in Pottawatomie County by District Attorney Richard Smothermon here on the day the teenager left with Reimer. That warrant specifically accuses Reimer of soliciting sexual conduct or communication with a minor by the use of technology.
Fourzan was last seen about 8 a.m. on Feb. 2 at Tecumseh High School, Kidney has stated.  Kidney said Saturday night that last Thursday he signed kidnapping charges against Reimer and he expects those to be filed by the DA possibly as early as Monday. Although investigators believe Fourzan went willingly with Reimer, because of her age, she can’t do that legally, Kidney said.  The Tecumseh officer said it was his understanding the traffic stop took place about 4 p.m. Washington time which would put it around 6 p.m. in Oklahoma. He said that FBI agents in the state of Washington probably would be headed either Sunday or Monday to the sheriff’s office where the teen and Reimer were being held Saturday night. He said it was his understanding the FBI planned to talk to both the teenager and Reimer.
No charges have been filed against Fourzan for anything, Kidney said Saturday night.  Kidney told the News-Star late Saturday evening he had visited by phone with an FBI agent in Norman who had been in contact with the FBI in Washington state. He said the FBI was investigating to determine if federal charges against Reimer might be warranted.  Reimer reportedly had worked at a convenience store at SH 102 and SH 9, but had not been seen there since Feb. 2. Kidney said the Pottawatomie County sheriff’s office is investigating the theft of several thousand dollars from that store which allegedly occurred on that date as well.  Kidney indicated that extradition of Reimer would be sought. And he said hopefully the teen’s family would be able to pick up her as early as Monday.