With Students' Help, Police Stop the Grinch from Stealing Christmas

December 20, 2019

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By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

Southside Elementary School students participating in a Monday fire drill helped alert Powell police to the location of a wanted criminal, who’d been caught on security video stealing school property last week.

After an oddly dressed suspect with green, unkempt hair was seen hiding behind vehicles on South Bent Street on Monday afternoon, Southside students quickly informed School Resource Officer Trevor Carpenter and a foot pursuit ensued. The suspect fled east on Monroe Street, racing past the northeast entrance to the school’s playground and dropping a large red bag in an effort to elude Carpenter. The officer made up the distance quickly and tackled him to the ground, holding him until Officer Reece McLain arrived to provide backup. The suspect continued to fight the officers until cuffed. In the struggle, both officers appeared to have trouble dealing with the suspect’s pungent aroma.

“He stink, stank, stunk!” Carpenter said. “He’s a mean one. And quicker than I thought.”

Southside Principal Scott Schiller grabbed the suspect’s bag and found property stolen from several classrooms. Carpenter later located a stash of assorted Christmas trees and candy during a further investigation of the scene.

The suspect was taken to the Powell police station, where he was identified as the notorious Christmas-hating, home-invading Grinch, of Mount Crumpit.

Confirming the Grinch’s identity proved difficult, as the matted green hair on the suspect’s fingers interfered with the fingerprinting.

Police have received several recent reports in which green hair has been found at the scene, but Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt refused to jump to conclusions.

“The chances of having two grinches in the area are very slim,” Eckerdt said Wednesday. However, “it’s important to remember that we in law enforcement are the finders of facts, not the finders of guilt,” he said.

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A known accomplice of the Grinch, his pet dog Max, was nowhere to be seen during Monday’s fracas. Max may have known that, after multiple incidents of pet owners not picking up after their animals and letting dogs run free, Park County School District No. 1 banned pets from all school grounds in 2018.

“... dogs are no longer allowed on school premises,” Schiller said.

Officer Carpenter said that Max should be easy to identify due to a long branch resembling antlers attached to his head. Community Service Officer Anna Paris was on hand on Monday in case the canine was located while Communications Supervisor Bobbie Colvin collected photographic evidence that was later shared on the department’s Facebook page.

Soon after being detained in one of the department’s temporary holding cells, the Grinch — not wanting his rap sheet to grow three sizes that day — confessed to his crimes. He agreed to be returned to Whoville, near the mountainous highrange of Pontoos.

“I have to give credit to the school resource officer and school officials, but also to the students as well,” Eckerdt said. “Being alert and aware of what was going on around them and letting a responsible adult know when something suspicious was happening was key to apprehending the suspect.”

Monday’s elaborately staged arrest of the Grinch was weeks in the making, involving a number of school staff and police. Principal Schiller said “99 percent of the credit” goes to Carpenter, who came up with the idea as something fun for the kids.

Schiller hopes to reinforce the idea that positive interaction between the city’s police force and children, starting at a young age, is important in a “tight-knit” community.

After the pretend Grinch was apprehended and joy filled the school, one child ran to the principal exclaiming, “We’re playing cops and Grinch.”