Madison Township trustees voted unanimously during a special meeting Sept. 24 on two resolutions related to investigations of misconduct by a township police officer.
Trustees chairman John Pritchard, vice chairman John Kershner and Edward B. Dildine agreed to authorize the issuance of subpoenas on written charges filed against the officer, at the request of the officer’s counsel, for a hearing scheduled Oct. 22.
The subpoenas, which were to be prepared by township counsel Michael Short, included township officers, as well as a Groveport police officer and Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
The trustees also authorized the issuance of subpoenas “to produce and permit for inspection or copying, testing or sampling” personal cellphones of three officers – two from the township and one from Groveport. The subpoena includes “all incoming and outgoing calls, call detail, usage records, message unit detail and text messages,” according to the resolution. The trustees went further, issuing subpoenas to the respective cellphone providers of the officers to obtain the same records.
In a separate resolution, trustees voted unanimously to order and direct the separation of witnesses for the Oct. 22 hearing.
The investigation stems from an Aug. 10 incident at a sports bar in Canal Winchester as the bar was closing in the early morning hours.
ThisWeek is withholding the names of officers, witnesses and the business because no charges have been filed and no discipline has been ordered.
An employee who was leaving for the night had called 911 after allegedly observing what he had thought appeared to be an altercation between a man and woman, indicating that the woman appeared to be crying.
Fairfield County deputies responded about 2:20 a.m. Aug. 10, according to an “investigation report and findings” document dated Sept. 9 and provided to ThisWeek by Madison Township administrator Susan Brobst. The investigation report also contained the sheriff’s office’s event summary.
According to the event summary, a deputy observed “a female … pulling away from a male on the other side of his vehicle and walking away towards another car.” The deputy also noted another woman on the scene.
According to the event summary, the man and one woman were Madison Township police officers; the other woman was a Groveport officer. All were off duty at the time.
“All parties were consuming alcohol,” according to the event summary. One woman “seemed OK to drive, (but) the other two did not,” the summary said.
Both women left separately, according to the event summary.
The male officer was advised “several times to allow us to get him a ride due to alcohol intake,” the summary said. “However, he refused, saying he was fine and that he had only had a couple of beers all night. He was visibly impaired and should not have left but did so anyways.”
The investigative report, which was launched Aug. 12, included interviews with officers, deputies and sports-bar employees.
The “findings and conclusions” section of the investigative report included allegations of misconduct against the male township officer, noting a “violation of a direct order related to administrative leave” and “dishonesty in an internal investigation.”
The male officer had been placed on paid administrative leave effective Aug. 10, Brobst said.
The investigative report also alleged misconduct by the female township officer, again noting “dishonesty in an internal investigation.”
The female officer was placed on paid administrative leave effective Sept. 3, Brobst said.
The investigative report also commented on the interviews with the two reporting deputies, noting that they had “backed off somewhat on their observations regarding (two officers’) level of intoxication as stated in the dispatched event summary. That, however, is understandable,” the investigative report said. “The deputies are currently under internal investigation by the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office specifically because they ‘gave a break’ to fellow law enforcement officers and allowed individuals whom the deputies believed to be intoxicated to simply drive away on the public roadway.”
The investigation report’s finding was that the male officer was untruthful in two interviews.
According to the township police department’s “Standards of Conduct,” cause for discipline includes “failure to disclose or misrepresenting material facts, or making any false or misleading statement on any application, examination form, or other official document, report or form, or during the course of any work-related investigation.”
Also included as grounds for discipline is “failure to participate in, or giving false or misleading statements, or misrepresenting or omitting material information to a supervisor or other person in a position of authority, in connection with any investigation or in the reporting of any department-related business.”
The trustees’ Oct. 22 meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Madison Township Community Center, 4575 Madison Lane, Groveport.