Ravenna officers' conduct punished

By Micah Panczyk Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The city of Ravenna has reprimanded five police officers in connection with events in December that ultimately lead to the resignation of former police chief Michael Swartout.

Each of the officers has waived their right of appeal to the Civil Service Commission or to further arbitration under an agreement reached between the city and the Ohio Patrolman's Benevolent Association, according to city officials.

The reprimands follow the city's investigation into the conduct of its officers and range from a limited unpaid suspension and loss of sick leave days to a "counseling advisory on the departments' formal alcohol regulations," according to a press release issued Monday by Mayor Paul Jones.

The city's investigation began after a Christmas party involving several officers Dec. 4, when Swartout discharged his firearm after a verbal argument with Jerry Giulitto, the party's host. The inquiry was designed to determine whether officers violated department regulations and has resulted in action against five officers:

Patrolman Giulitto will be suspended for three days without pay and will lose five sick leave days for his "pattern of abuse of sick leave under department rules and regulations."

Sgt. Terry Lee will receive a formal reprimand in his file for his "failure to conduct a proper investigation of the Dec. 4 incident."

Patrolman Kevin Lafferty will be suspended for two days and lose one sick leave day for "calling off improperly for work the evening of ... the incident." The release did not say whether the suspension is with or without pay. Jones could not be reached for comment; interim chief Randall McCoy declined comment.

Patrolman Jason Burrel was issued a "formal letter of reprimand in his file for drinking alcohol before his work shift."

Patrolman Scott Kreiger will receive a "formal counseling memo (advisory) on the department's formal alcohol regulations of not drinking before work." The release did not specify the regulations violated.

"This action for all practical purposes brings closure to a sad and very unpleasant three months," Jones said in the release. "Now it's time to move on and spend time on some productive work in this city."

Jones said he will appoint a three-member commission to work with McCoy to review the police department's standard operating procedures and regulations. Revisions will be made where necessary, he said. Jones' release did not specify when the report from the investigation would be made public.

Swartout resigned March 17 after pleading guilty to two of six misdemeanor charges handed down in an indictment by a Portage County grand jury. The former chief was charged with two counts of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and a count of using a weapon while intoxicated, all first-degree misdemeanors. He was also charged with one count of attempted aggravated menacing, a second-degree misdemeanor, and two counts of improperly discharging a firearm, both fourth-degree misdemeanors.

Judge John Enlow suspended concurrent 180-day sentences for the two charges on the condition that Swartout complete 100 hours of community work service, have no similar offenses for one year, pay court costs, resign his job and forfeit his weapon.

The other four charges against him were dismissed as part of the agreement.

A total of eight members of the Ravenna Police Department have either resigned or received reprimands in connection with the Dec. 4 incident.

Former patrolman Ed O'Neil, who drove Swartout in a police cruiser through the Farmer's Market Drive-Thru in Ravenna the evening of the incident, recently resigned. O'Neil was off-duty at the time. The case against Swartout's wife, Lisa, who was fired from her position as a Ravenna police dispatcher, remains open.

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