02/08/2006

Ohio: 3 officers face multiple charges

By Rick Armon   
Beacon Journal staff writer

Three township police officers face misconduct charges following an internal probe that includes witness statements from a Boy Scout and allegations of harassment, sexual affairs and lying on the job.

And more charges may be filed involving two other employees as part of an ongoing investigation, Police Chief Harley Neftzer announced Tuesday.

``Our residents put a high expectation on us for providing professional service,'' he said in expressing his disappointment.

The investigation started last month after a female officer and Officer Marc Brittain, 35, complained that other officers were spreading rumors that they were having an affair. The investigation of their complaints, though, revealed other misconduct, including alleged violations by Brittain.

Officers Walt Peters, 36, and Jason Collins, 31, were issued written reprimands Feb. 1 for making disparaging remarks about the female officer and Brittain. Peters also was charged with failing to respond immediately to a call and faces a pre-disciplinary hearing Thursday.

The investigation also concluded that Brittain often visited the female officer's apartment while he was on duty and lied to dispatchers about his whereabouts.

During some of those visits, he brought along a teenage member of the Police Explorer Post, a program of the Boy Scouts.

The teen told investigators that on one visit, Brittain and the woman disappeared into her bedroom for about 20 minutes while he sat alone in the living room. On other stops, he would wait in the police car. One time the teen entered the apartment to alert Brittain to a call and found the officer in the basement doing laundry, according to the investigative report.

Brittain and the female officer told investigators that they are just friends.

Brittain has been charged with being outside his assigned area without authorization. He also faces a pre-disciplinary hearing on Thursday.

Peters and Brittain could face a written warning, reprimand, suspension or termination. The female officer faces no discipline, Neftzer said.

Peters, Brittain and Collins have worked full time for Jackson police since 2000, 2003 and 1997, respectively.

They could not be reached for comment.

Charles Choate, who represents the officers through the Fraternal Order of Police, said he could not comment on details of the allegations.

The officers' personnel files include numerous complimentary and thank-you letters from residents and supervisors for their work. However, they also have received written reprimands.

Peters was cited for sending an inappropriate e-mail in June 2005. Brittain was reprimanded for an unsafe police pursuit in June 2003. And Collins was cited for being absent from his assigned zone without authorization in December 2004 and not immediately reporting his involvement in a minor traffic accident in August 2004.

As investigators were looking into complaints by the female officer and Brittain, they also uncovered ``an allegation of inappropriate conduct between an off-duty employee and an on-duty employee.'' That investigation is continuing and details will be available after it's completed, Neftzer said.

 Akron Beacon Journal (http://www.ohio.com/)

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