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Monday, August 30, 2021

Cedar Point Balking at Newspaper Request for Police Reports From Its Private Park Force Despite Legal Precedent

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 4:12 PM

click to enlarge Top Thrill Dragster - JEREMY THOMPSON/FLICKRCC
  • Jeremy Thompson/FlickrCC
  • Top Thrill Dragster

Among Cedar Point's many thousands of employees are a certain number of Cedar Point police officers that staff its private department.

The exact number is unclear, because the famously secretive park refuses to disclose it.



It's now also refusing to abide by the state of Ohio's public records act, according to the Sandusky Register, which has sought daily police and crime reports from the park, including with regards to the Top Thrill Dragster accident that has left a Michigan woman fighting for her life with a brain injury.

Though it operates a private police force, 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.

“Like other law enforcement agencies, it clearly meets the definitions of a public office, the functional equivalent of a public office, and an institutional person responsible for public records, any one of which renders its law enforcement records subject to the requirements of the Public Records Act,” then Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wrote in a friends of the court brief that year for the case involving a university's police force. “This status is clear, and the consequences of any Ohio police department operating to the contrary are serious and potentially irreparable.”

Cedar Point's force, some members of which carry guns, can carry out arrests for low-level offenses and have dealt with incidents and crimes in the park that were not attended to by Sandusky police.

As the Register sought information recently — data and reports Cedar Point is obligated to maintain and turn over —  it received this response from the park:

"If you would provide the (Sandusky) Register’s legal counsel’s contact information, I can connect them with our legal team for further clarification," park spokesman Tony Clark wrote the Register.
Details on the Top Thrill Dragster investigation were released last week not by the park but by the state of Ohio.

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