Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Appeal from Common Pleas Court No. 2015-6610, Juvenile
R. NOTHSTINE, Atty. Reg. No. 0061560, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellant.
MICHAEL E. DEFFET, Atty. Reg. No. 0051976, Assistant Public
Defender, Attorney for Defendant-Appellee
1} The State of Ohio appeals from a "decision
and judgment" of the Montgomery County Court of Common
Pleas, Juvenile Division, which suppressed statements that
L.G. made when he was questioned by the Dayton Public
Schools' Executive Director of Safety and Security about
a bomb threat. For the following reasons, the juvenile
court's decision will be affirmed.
Factual and Procedural History
2} On October 27, 2015, a person called the Dayton
Regional Dispatch Center and claimed that there was a bomb in
Dayton's Longfellow Alternative School. The police
contacted school officials, who immediately evacuated the
school. The police also contacted Jamie Bullens, Dayton
Public Schools' Executive Director of Safety and
Security, who met police officers at the school.
3} As Executive Director of Safety and Security,
Bullens, a retired detective with the Dayton Police
Department, oversees 26 school resource officers, who are
trained as peace officers. The school resource officers are
qualified as special police officers, and they have the
authority to arrest individuals for offenses that occur on
school campuses; school resource officers carry handcuffs,
but do not carry weapons. Bullens indicated that he works
closely with law enforcement when incidents occur that school
resource officers cannot handle. And, he is directed to work
closely with the police department any time formal charges
may be warranted.
4} Upon arriving at Longfellow, Bullens confirmed
that the school had been evacuated, and he initiated a
walkthrough. Bullens and Dayton Police Sergeant Keller had
bomb-sniffing dogs sweep the building; the dogs found
nothing. He and Sergeant Keller authorized the children to be
brought into the school's gymnasium.
5} While the students were in the gymnasium, Bullens
told them that he needed to know who had made this bomb
threat. Bullens informed the students that there was an
agreement with the Miami Valley Crime Stoppers Association,
and it was offering a reward from $50 to $1, 000 for
information leading to the person responsible for the bomb
threat. Bullens then went to the school cafeteria.
6} Soon after, two individuals came forward to
school officials implicating L.G., a thirteen-year-old
seventh grader. Kerry Ivy, the school resource officer, and
Jack Johnson, the principal, informed Bullens that there were
two individuals he needed to speak to right away. The
individuals were brought to the cafeteria, where they gave
information to Bullens about the bomb threat and implicated
7} Bullens contacted Ivy and "had him go into
the gymnasium with the information, the description of the
individual we were looking for, and to retrieve that
individual and bring him to the cafeteria." Ivy got L.G.
from the gym, brought him to the cafeteria, and had L.G. sit
across a table from Bullens. There, with two uniformed police
officers standing nearby (closer to L.G. than to Bullens),
Bullens questioned L.G. about his alleged involvement with
the bomb threat. Bullens did not provide Miranda
warnings prior to asking L.G. any questions. Once confronted
with the information provided by the two informants, L.G.
confessed to calling in the bomb threat. When Bullens
finished questioning L.G., L.G. was handed off to Officer
Jeremy Stewart, one of the police officers who had been
standing nearby and had witnessed the questioning. Officer
Stewart placed L.G. under arrest and transported him in a
cruiser to a police station for further questioning by Dayton
8} The following day, the Dayton Police Department
filed a complaint alleging that L.G. was a delinquent child
for committing the offense of inducing panic under R.C.
2917.31(A)(1), a second-degree felony under R.C.
2917.31(C)(5). L.G. filed a motion to suppress the statements
that he had made to Bullens, arguing that the questioning was
not conducted with his (L.G.'s) consent and that he was
not advised of his Miranda rights before the
questioning. The matter was referred to a magistrate, who
held an evidentiary hearing. After the hearing, the
magistrate granted L.G.'s suppression motion. The State
filed objections to the magistrate's decision with the
juvenile court, arguing that L.G. was not in custody for
Miranda purposes and that Miranda did not
apply because Bullens was not a law enforcement officer or
acting as an agent of law enforcement when he interviewed
L.G. The juvenile court overruled the State's objections
and sustained the motion to suppress. The court concluded
that L.G. was in custody for Miranda purposes and
that Bullens was acting as an agent of law enforcement.
9} The State appeals.
10} In ruling on a motion to suppress, the trial
court "assumes the role of the trier of fact, and, as
such, is in the best position to resolve questions of fact
and evaluate the credibility of the witnesses."
State v. Retherford,93 Ohio App.3d 586, 592, 639
N.E.2d 498 (2d Dist.1994); State v. Knisley, 2d
Dist. Montgomery No. 22897, 2010-Ohio-116, ¶ 30.
Accordingly, when we review suppression decisions, we must
accept the trial court's findings of fact if they are
supported by competent, credible evidence.
Retherford at 592. "Accepting those facts as
true, we must ...