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Published: Tuesday, 12/15/2009

4 Toledo police officers likely to be suspended for 90 workdays

BLADE STAFF

The four Toledo police officers facing departmental charges of misconduct related to drugs and alcohol probably will serve 90-workday suspensions without pay, City Safety Director Robert Reinbolt said last night.

"I would lean in that direction although I have not seen the documentation yet," Mr. Reinbolt said. "It does seem to me that it is a pretty stiff penalty."

Officers Curtis Jewell and Karon Gallup, both uniformed patrol officers, faced charges related to their failure of a random drug test, which indicated marijuana in their systems.

Officers Donald Mitchell and James W. Breier face criminal and departmental charges related to operating patrol vehicles while intoxicated.

Chief Mike Navarre said each officer entered no-contest pleas during departmental hearings yesterday morning and accepted the 90-workday suspension, which he then recommended Mr. Reinbolt approve.

The four officers had been placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of the hearings.

"I think it sends a very strong message to these four individuals and the rest of the department that this conduct is inappropriate and will not be tolerated," Chief Navarre said. "These are four good officers who made a horrible mistake, each of them, and they are being given a second chance with some heavy consequences. They won't be given a third chance."

The chief said he had to consider what an arbitrator would have ruled in an appeal if he had chosen to fire the officers.

Also included in the deal, Officers Jewell and Gallup will face random drug testing and Officers Mitchell and Breier will be tested randomly on duty for alcohol use.

Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, said the punishments seemed too severe. "Personally, we thought the treatment was a little harsh; however, the officers were given a choice whether or not they wanted to accept the plea agreement," he said. "But basically, they had a gun to their head, 'Take this harsh treatment or be terminated.'•"

He said the unpaid suspension will total $20,000 for each officer.

Officer Jewell, 52, a 26-year veteran, and Officer Gallup, 42, who has been with the department 14 years, were internally charged Dec. 4 with illegal use or abuse of marijuana, willful violation, and conduct unbecoming an officer.

The officers were among 48 who were selected randomly Nov. 19 to submit to drug screens.

The TPPA agreed to random drug testing as part of contract negotiations.

Chief Navarre said random drug testing will continue for the entire department.

Officers Gallup and Jewell do not face criminal charges because the test was a condition of their employment and so it cannot be used in a criminal case, the chief said.

Officer Mitchell, 45, a 12-year veteran of the force, was accused of showing up intoxicated for work Oct. 31. He was arrested after being called back from patrolling the streets after command was notified that something appeared to be wrong.

The month before, Officer Breier, 54, a 27-year veteran, was arrested and accused of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol when he responded to a traffic crash and appeared to be intoxicated.

They also face misdemeanor criminal charges in Toledo Municipal Court.

Another officer, Shawn Parra, 35, was off duty and in his personal vehicle when he was involved in what reports allege was a drunken-driving crash in which he fled the scene.

Officer Parra has been on vacation since the Thanksgiving-morning crash and is likely to face departmental charges.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said the city would not tolerate drug and alcohol violations from its safety forces.

"I would think the punishment is tough punishment and it certainly sends a message," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

- Ignazio Messina



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