In response to the theft of a police cruiser Thursday morning, Middletown police are installing anti-theft devices in its fleet of vehicles, said Maj. David Birk.
When officers leave their cruisers, Birk said they will activate the anti-theft mechanism that will lock the transmission. Birk said the vehicles won’t move until the hidden button is activated.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol uses similar anti-theft devices in its cruisers, Birk said.
He said each device costs between $109 and $150, which is “cost effective” compared to replacing a cruiser.
The department has had three cruisers stolen in the last 22 years, including in 1997 and 2011, Birk said.
The police department had 11 Ford Explorers and 50 police vehicles, including cruisers, K-9 officers, detectives and narcotics, according to city officials.
On Thursday morning, two 2018 Ford Explorer cruisers, both valued at $37,000, including police upgrades, were severely damaged during an incident.
Jason Cooper, 49, of Middletown, is accused of stealing a police cruiser. Then police said he “intentionally” crashed into a cruiser driven by officer Ryan Morgan, who was responding to a disturbance call in the 100 block of Bavarian Street.
A woman called Middletown 911 dispatchers at 12:54 a.m. Thursday reporting her boyfriend, later identified as Cooper, was “extremely drunk,” slamming doors, yelling and cursing. When an officer arrived, the 911 caller stood on the second-floor balcony and told the officer her boyfriend was hiding in the bushes outside the apartment.
Cooper allegedly came out from behind the bushes, and displayed a knife to the officer, Patrick Glassburn. Cooper was listening to the police scanner on his cellphone and intended to ambush the officers, Middletown police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said.
Glassburn told Cooper to drop what he was carrying, and when he refused, he was shocked by Glassburn’s taser that was ineffective.
Cooper then got into the cruiser and crashed into a cruiser driven by Morgan, who was responding to the call.
When Cooper wrecked, the stolen cruiser flipped on its side and he was apprehended. He was taken to Atrium Medical Center and treated for a punctured lung and injured arm. Birk said Morgan was treated and released from Middletown Kettering Medical Center.
Cooper was charged with felonious assault, a second-degree felony; aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony; grand theft felony, of the fourth degree; aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor; assault on a police officer, a fourth-degree felony; obstructing official business, resisting arrest, driving under suspension and criminal tools.
But when he was unable to appear in court this morning because he was hospitalized, the charges were withdrawn until he’s released, police said.
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