Friday, July 22, 2011


Pictured above is Canton Chief of Police as he appeared before the media on June 23, 2007 (the day that Canton Police Officer Bobby Cutts, Jr. was arrested for two counts of murder) to reassure the Canton/Stark County public that the Canton Police Department (CPD)  would deal with one of its own in the light of the facts that evolved in the investigation of the allegation against Cutts.

In the Cutts case, McKimm, of course, responded immediately.  The Cutts case was easy for the chief to deal with.  Cutts was in jail and he was convicted on February 15, 2008 and sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole for 57 years. but with an officer who was incarcerated.

But should Cutts have been a Canton policeman in the first place?

According to a report by Edd Pritchard of The Repository dated June 19, 2007, Sheriff, FBI agents search Cutts' home:
In 1998, before he joined the Canton Police Department, Cutts was found guilty of aggravated criminal trespass for breaking into [Nikki] Giavasis' [the mother of his child] apartment in Jackson Township. He pleaded no contest, was found guilty and placed on three years probation. He was hired to the Canton force in 2000.


In February 2003, Cutts was fired from the police department after an investigation into how his cousin ended up with Cutts' service weapon. Cutts claimed the weapon was stolen. Police administrators believed Cutts gave the weapon to his cousin. But an arbitrator determined the incident wasn't a good enough reason to dismiss Cutts and he was reinstated.
On June 8, 2011 another case of "dealing with one of our own" for McKimm to deal with, in terms of allegations of a Canton policeman wrong doing, was birthed.

For readers who have not seen the video, CLICK HERE for the link.

This time McKimm has a much more difficult task on his hand.

And the question is not so much how Harless will be dealt with, but how long McKimm and his boss Safety Director Thomas Ream have known about the incident before placing the officer on administrative leave sometime in June.

A paramount question that McKimm and Ream have to answer is why they did not get out in front on this matter?

They needed to bring it to the public's attention before it hit the media and present a convincing case to the public that the attitude demonstrated in the video is atypical because the Canton Police Department has mechanisms in place to filter out officers who have attitude issues before incidents like what occurred on June 8th transpire.

If a plausible explanation is not forthcoming, then it is incumbent on Mayor Healy to step in and ensure to the public's satisfaction that remedial policies and procedures are put in place and perhaps including disciplinary action against McKimm and Ream.

The SCPR has talked with a prominent Stark County police official who shared the following observations/comments:
  • questions whether or not McKimm historically has effectively handled allegations of Canton police misconduct.
  • questions the quality of training of police officers in Canton.  
    • the SCPR's source was incredulous that the other officer on the scene did not intervene to settle Harless down.
    • could not believe that the car was being searched without taking everybody out of it first.
    • the officer's refusal to listen to the subject about having a permit to carrying the gun.
  • Canton needs to significantly improve the quality of background investigations, internal affairs investigations and disciplinary processes.
  • worried that the culture of the CPD is such that it encourages police wrongdoing,
    • a key to watch, the source says, is the union's reaction.  Does it circle the wagons or does it stand up and distance the working officers of the department from what the video shows.
  • believes that McKimm in the sense that he appears to have failed to have systematic and escalating processes in place to prevent what happened on June 8th should be accountable in terms of "the buck stops here."  The source would be surprised to learn that there were no other incidents involving Harless.  It all goes back - The Report's source says - to McKimm and what he believes to have been ineffective police corp control and that McKimm bears responsibility for the development of what appears to be a culture of tolerance if not encouragement of cop on the beat arrogance.
 In light of the police source's criticism of the Canton police administration, it may be a good idea for Cantonians to attend the Canton Police Academy.  While there, they may want to inquire into background check procedures, the operation of internal affairs and the CPD disciplinary processes.

Another source in a position to know tells the SCPR that McKimm rules the department in a military fashion, but does not have the respect of the Canton police force.  McKimm, the source says, is a technocrat who does not get out and around his troops connecting with them on a day-to-day basis and therefore not in a position to have the pulse of the department within his grasp.

If the source is correct in assessing McKimm, it appears that one side of McKimm does take with some of the CPD officers is a dictatorial manner that seems to be more appropriate in a military context than in a city police department where the clientele is citizen based and not focused on dealing with enemies.

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