Ravenna police dispatcher suspended by Jones

By Micah Panczyk and Deanna Hohler Bottar Recor Published:

The wife of suspended Ravenna Police Chief Michael Swartout has been suspended from her duties as a Ravenna police dispatcher for "a very serious breach of security" at the department, according to city police.

Lisa Swartout was placed on paid administrative leave at 2 p.m. Friday by Ravenna Mayor Paul Jones, pending a "pre-disciplinary hearing" at 9 a.m. today, according to Ravenna Police Capt. Randall McCoy, who is acting chief in Swartout's absence.

Although McCoy would not comment on the nature of the allegations against Mrs. Swartout, he said they were of "a very serious nature" and could result in criminal charges filed against her. The suspension came as a result of McCoy's recommendation to Jones.

The allegations involved "her duties as a Ravenna Police Department dispatcher (and) a very serious breach of security from the Ravenna Police Department radio room," according to a release from the department.

The allegations against Mrs. Swartout involve "acts that compromise the operations and security of the police department."

At this morning's hearing, which was closed to the public, McCoy presented his recommendation about the allegations to Ravenna Service Director Don Kainrad who served as the hearing officer. McCoy declined to release details of his recommendation. Kainrad will review information concerning the allegations and then make his own recommendation to the mayor on whether disciplinary action should be taken.

The city has filed reports of these alleged episodes with Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci, who will determine if criminal charges will be filed against Mrs. Swartout.

Vigluicci could not be reached for comment this morning.

The Swartouts were married in 1997, according to court records. Swartout was named Ravenna police chief in 1993 after serving with the department for many years.

"I am very disappointed in the way that the present leadership is choosing to handle this entire situation," Swartout said this morning. "I'm very disappointed in the way myself and my family have been treated in this situation."

"I still have faith in God, in the system and that the truth will come out," he added.

Mrs. Swartout declined comment today on her suspension.

Swartout was suspended with pay in late December pending the outcome of a state investigation into alleged misconduct at an "off-duty Christmas party" Dec. 4. in Rootstown.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation filed the results of its inquiry Jan. 28 with Vigluicci, who also will determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Swartout. The results of the probe have not yet been made public, and no charges have yet been filed.

Swartout allegedly drew a firearm and pointed it at officer Jerry Giulitto after they had "a heated argument" near Giulitto's Rootstown residence. Swartout fired at least two warning shots into the air, a city official said previously.

The official speculated Swartout's alleged action constitutes a felonious assault under the Ohio Revised Code _ a charge punishable by a definite term of 3 to 10 years in prison, according to the state's revised felony code, which went into effect in 1996.

Ohio law states no person shall knowingly "cause or attempt to cause serious physical harm to another by means of a deadly weapon."

The official also said previously the officers who witnessed the alleged event but failed to report it immediately violated a section of the law requiring them to do so.

A separate internal investigation into whether other officers who attended the gathering broke departmental rules the day of the party continues. That inquiry began after Swartout was suspended and could result in departmental punishment of the officers, not criminal charges, Jones has said.

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