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Ravenna police chief, officers center of investigation

By Mike Sever Record-Courier staff writer Published: December 19, 1997 12:00 AM

Ravenna Mayor Paul Jones acknowledged Friday that he is conducting an investigation into an alleged incident involving Swartout and other city officers.

"I am looking into a serious allegation about the police chief," said Jones, who would not give details of the alleged incident, but did say it was brought to his attention "by people within the police department."

Swartout, who has served as police chief since 1993, remained head of the department as of Friday afternoon. "The chief is still on duty and he will remain on duty as I continue to gather the facts," Jones said.

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Swartout said he has not been informed of any investigation.

"I am not aware of any misconduct within the police department," he said after being informed of Jones' comments.

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"I have no comment. I'm going to make a call to the mayor to find out what's going on," Swartout said.

Jones said he "had just learned about it (the allegation) Friday morning and started piecing it together." He said he interviewed nine people, including police officers, within a three-hour span Friday afternoon. "I will look at it over the weekend and call at least two people in for re-interviews Monday morning."

Jones said the alleged incident involves no residents of the city.

"Actually, it is an incident that occurred outside of the city of Ravenna amongst the chief and some city officers. It is personal in nature," he said, adding that he is investigating an allegation about the conduct of the officers.

Jones declined to say where the alleged incident took place, but said Swartout and the others allegedly involved in the incident were off duty at the time, outside city limits but within Portage County.

Swartout joined the Ravenna force as a part-time patrolman in 1981. He became a full-time patrolman in 1983 and became a sergeant in 1986. He was promoted to chief on Feb. 1, 1993.

Under the city charter, Ravenna's safety director is responsible for overseeing safety forces. Jones is safety director as well as mayor. "According to the charter, I'm the civilian supervisor of the police and fire departments," he said.

City Council President Kevin Poland said he had not heard of any allegations or investigation.

"No, I haven't heard anything about that," Poland said Friday evening after being told of Jones's comments.

"If you're talking about serious allegations that have a shred of truth to them, then no, I have not heard of anything. Nor have I received any notification from the mayor's office," or the police department, Poland said..

"I would anticipate that the mayor would bring whatever findings he may have to us. I am sure the mayor would involve city council at the appropriate time," Poland said.

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