Wednesday, May 27, 2009
HAS RICK PEREZ'S CONDUCT IN "DEVIES" CASE DAMAGED SHERIFF'S OFFICE RELATIONSHIP WITH ALL OF STARK COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT?
When Stark County Sheriff Chief Deputy Rick Perez took the witness stand in the Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies, he - at the very minimum - in his testimony embarrassed the Stark County Sheriff's department, or - at the worse - did irreparable harm to Stark County law enforcement.
A leading Stark County law enforcement person has told the SCPR that Perez's testimony shook the Stark law enforcement community.
The response. "How can we ever trust the Sheriff's department ever again?" "Perez's conduct will have a chilling effect on how non-sheriff-department police relate to and deal with the sheriff's office."
What did the testimony reveal?
First, he testified that when he appeared at Township Hall on January 7, 2009 to investigate allegations by Trustee Tim Wise that criminal conduct may have been committed by Police Chief Devies and his son Kyle involving township computers; he was wearing a "secretly" placed wire.
It was obvious from the wire recording played in court that Ron Devies was being very forthcoming on his version of the incident. In fact, from an evidence standpoint, Prosecutor Dennis Barr's introduction of the wire recording was a dumb move because it helped the defense much more than the prosecution.
Defense attorneys Jeff Jakimedes and Dick Reinbold objected to the use of the recording (which they should be glad Judge Sinclair overruled), alleging possible violations of federal/state wiretapping laws.
Aside from the damage the recording did to the prosecution's case, when word got out that Chief Deputy Rick Perez might be wearing a "secret" wire when dealing with area police officers; a disbelieving murmur likely arose among Stark County law enforcers.
Second, Perez testified that he initiated the investigation of the Devies on the "hearsay" of Trustee Tim Wise. The import? Charging into an investigation of a township law enforcement official on the basis of "hearsay." Really? How many "hearsay" reports of law enforcement officials violations of law does Sheriff Swanson's department launch investigations on, anyway?
It is reported that Sheriff Swanson is grooming Perez to succeed him. Some Stark County politicos see it this way. Swanson will serve the better part of his term and then step down and have the Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee appoint Perez as his successor.
This way Perez can run as "retain Sheriff Perez."
When Larry Dordea ran against Sheriff Swanson in 2008, a considerable number of Stark County police officials supported Dordea including Police Chief Devies (hum?).
Wouldn't it be an interesting twist, if the Devies investigation and prosecution became the undoing of the aspirations of Chief Deputy Perez to be the next Stark County sheriff?
Dordea is openly telling one and all that he plans to run for sheriff again in 2012.
You can bet that Ron Devies will be at the forefront in the campaign.
And, given what many Stark County law enforcers view as "a breach in trust" as manifested in the Devies case, it is likely that Rick Perez - if he is the Democratic candidate - will have nearly all of Stark County law enforcers supporting Dordea.
The consequences to Perez?
Rick Perez can kiss his "I want to be sheriff" aspirations - goodbye!