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Published: Tuesday, 10/6/2009

Waterville Township chief will not face criminal charges

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A coffee cup containing liquor was found in the front of her police patrol car, according to investigative reports obtained by The Blade, but criminal charges will not be filed against Waterville Township Police Chief Kathleen Hartle, the reports said.

Mrs. Hartle has been on paid sick leave from her job since Aug. 26, when she allegedly had an open container of alcohol in her patrol vehicle and appeared to be intoxicated at a public meeting.

Chief Hartle was the Drug Abuse Resistance Education - often called D.A.R.E. - officer for Anthony Wayne Schools for seven years. Since the incident, the school district has delayed its D.A.R.E. program until the spring semester.

Chief Hartle joined the township police in 2000 and became chief in November, 2007.

A man who answered the door at her Monclova Township residence yesterday said she was not available.

The police report of the August incident was written by acting chief Sgt. Eric Varner and was withheld until the investigation concluded Friday.

Chief Hartle was behaving "strange" and was stumbling while walking into the township trustee meeting Aug. 26, the report said.

Sergeant Varner arrived there about 8:30 p.m., after Trustees Chairman Brett Warner reported that Chief Hartle was being "verbally abusive" and calling him by her husband's name.

The trustee is also the D.A.R.E. officer for the Lucas County Sheriff's Office.

When Chief Hartle left the meeting, the trustee asked the sergeant for a private moment to speak with her. The trustee said later that the chief had told him privately that she had a medical condition, the report said.

Chief Hartle was not subjected to field sobriety tests because her disoriented behavior was dismissed as an illness. The sergeant wrote in the report that he did not smell alcohol on her.

"There was no conversation about a Breathalyzer," Sergeant Varner told The Blade yesterday. "My assumption was that there was a medical condition involved. That's what I was told by the trustee. That's what was disclosed to him."

The sergeant drove her home in his patrol car. Chief Hartle had difficulty sitting up and seemed confused as she tried to exit the vehicle.

"I told Chief Hartle that her seat belt was not on several times, however Chief Hartle continued trying to remove her radio, stating that she couldn't get her seat belt off," the sergeant wrote in the report.

When they went inside her house to check on her later, the sergeant and the trustee found Chief Hartle sprawled on the floor near a rear door, the report said.

The men decided to move the chief's vehicle to the police station. They found a bottle of mouthwash and a plastic coffee cup containing about 2.5 ounces of a clear liquid. The liquid contained 20 percent ethanol - the equivalent of 40-proof liquor - according to lab results from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation's Bowling Green office.

In a letter written to township trustees Friday, Waterville Village Prosecutor Kevin A. Heban said "there is no sufficient evidence to pursue any criminal or traffic charges in this matter." Mr. Heban did not return calls for comment yesterday.

The chief was suspended with pay Sept. 9. The trustees will consider the incident as a personnel matter during a hearing scheduled for Oct. 14.

The prosecutor's recommendation to abandon the possibility of criminal charges won't affect the personnel hearing, Mr. Warner said yesterday.

"It doesn't change anything from what we're doing," he said.

Contact Bridget Tharp at:

btharp@theblade.com

or 419-724-6086.



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