Signs of support for Perrysburg police Chief Nelson Evans, who was not invited to the groundbreaking ceremony last week for the city's new police station, are popping up across the community.
Though other city officials weren't invited to the groundbreaking either, some residents are upset that the chief was left out, considering that he has been working closely with city officials on the police station project.
And while some city officials contend that the chief was absent from the ceremony simply because of an oversight when the planning was being done for the last-minute event, some people are pointing their fingers at the timing of the incident that comes on the heels of the arrest by Perrysburg police of the mayor's son on drug charges.
Judy Verkin, who served on council for 12 years and ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Jody Holbrook, asked about the invitation list for the groundbreaking during a council meeting last week. She would not link the arrest with the chief not being invited to the groundbreaking, but said people could draw their own conclusions.
Chief Evans said yesterday that nobody told him about the groundbreaking, but declined to talk further about the matter on the advice of his attorney. In an interview with the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, he said it's possible the snub was related to the arrest of the mayor's son, Bryan Holbrook, 23, of Perrysburg, on May 4.
According to a police report, the mayor's son was charged with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. A multi-colored glass pipe and a substance that smelled like marijuana was found in Bryan Holbrook's car, police said. His case is pending in Perrysburg Municipal Court.
In addition to the signs of support in yards in the city, the chief has received phone calls and cards of support, he said.
He said he has been sitting back, trying to do his job, and he appreciates the support.
His job performance has come under fire by the city administration, and the chief was suspended without pay June 5 for allegedly failing to inform James Bagdonas, the city administrator, of an investigation of a police officer for drawing a weapon in inappropriate circumstances, and for inattention to disciplinary provisions of the collective bargaining agreement in that matter.
His personnel file contains a written warning for failing to inform the city administrator of vandalism to a city water tank last summer, which was issued Dec. 5, and for “overall unsatisfactory performance and nonchalant attitude regarding this vandalism incident.”
Chief Evans said the June 5 disciplinary action that cost him a day's pay of $291 was unwarranted because he didn't feel he was conducting an investigation. He has been chief three years and has been with the police division since 1978.
Mr. Bagdonas declined to comment yesterday, and Mr. Holbrook could not be reached for comment.
Councilman Kim Klewer said a lot of people didn't attend the groundbreaking ceremony, including a couple of council members who weren't invited. He was there along with other members of council's service-safety committee who have been involved in the planning for the new police station.
Because this is “the largest thing we have ever done in the city,” Mr. Klewer said he thought more people should have been invited, but noted that the event was scheduled at the last minute.
Mr. Klewer said he has had no indication from the mayor that “this is anything but a mere oversight.” No one has said the chief or anyone in the police division was left off the invitation list on purpose, he said.
Mr. Klewer said he was concerned because this has turned into a community issue. “Perhaps there is a perception of something greater than something that it actually is,” he said.