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In Ohio Circleville Mayor Chuck Taylor is known for the hands-on, up-close manner in which he goes about his job. But police officers say their mayor crossed the line of propriety -- and safety -- when he refused to leave the scene of a major downtown fire yesterday.
When Taylor replied to an officer, "Arrest me," police obliged.
Taylor briefly was handcuffed, escorted from the area and later charged with misconduct at an emergency, a fourth-degree misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail.
Police Lt. Steve Gaines said the mayor refused to leave an adjacent alley as firefighters battled a suspicious blaze that gutted Mason's Furniture & Floor Coverings.
Firefighters were worried that the southwest corner of the burning building might collapse, so they ordered the area evacuated, said Police Chief Wayne Gray.
Not two minutes after Gaines removed the mayor from the alley, the wall collapsed, Gray said. "We probably kept him from being hurt. I ran myself and was splattered with ashes and soot."
Police later served Taylor with a summons to appear in Circleville Municipal Court. The mayor, whose lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for him, declined to comment further after being charged.
A police spokesman said the mayor had been warned before about getting too close to scenes.
Columbus Dispatch
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