Cedar Point to Disband Private Police Force, Sandusky Police to Take Over

Issues of transparency had plagued the private police force

click to enlarge Cedar Point to Disband Private Police Force, Sandusky Police to Take Over
Photo courtesy Cedar Point

Cedar Fair announced last Friday that Cedar Point's private police force would be disbanded in an agreement that will have the Sandusky police department take over control of the park in a transition expected to be completed in 2023. When that's complete, the private force will focus on security at the park.

“The safety of our area’s visitors, residents and employees is the highest priority for both the City of Sandusky and Cedar Point,” a news release from the city and Cedar Point said. “Both organizations have worked together tirelessly to ensure safety is at the forefront of everything they do, with a full commitment to protecting fun for all.”

The amusement park has some 5,000 employees during the year, though the number of officials on the private police force remained unclear. Members of the security team had authority to investigate crimes at the park, and in Cedar Fair-owned employee housing, and the power to make arrests. While Sandusky police also had a presence at the park, and while the private force mainly focused on low-level crimes like theft, questions of transparency and accountability emerged in recent years.

After the 2021 Top Thrill Dragster accident that left a woman severely injured, the Sandusky Register sought records and information from the force, which were ignored and denied by Cedar Point.

The Register argued in a subsequent lawsuit against Cedar Point that, because the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that records from private forces are subject to the same public records laws as any other law enforcement department, Cedar Point should be required to answer its requests.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit and the Register declined to further fight once it was made aware a transition plan was in place to put Sandusky city officers in charge of policing the park, something its editorial board suggested last year.

"Giving a private company police powers without the responsibility to act in the public interest is a bad idea in theory and in action. It's an open invitation to abuse and to decisions being made based on the self-interest of the company, not the public's interest," the editorial board wrote in September.
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