Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Could it be that Jackson Township is going to have two new trustees come January 1, 2014?

Its looking like it more and more to the SCPR.


Over the handling of the Chief David Zink matter, that's why?

According to area media reports, the trustees on November 30, 2012 hired Attorney John Hill (Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs/Akron, Ohio) to investigate allegations that the chief (a 26 year veteran of the department who became its head in 2010) had made unwanted sexual advances towards one of the Jackson Police Department's employees.

The investigative report was back to the trustees by their December 18th meeting and after spending a lengthy time in executive session considering the report on how to react came out of the session (having reached an accord with Zink) and in the voice of the trustees' president (James N. Walters) made the following pronouncement:  (an extract from the minutes of the meeting)
Walters:  After reading and hearing the independent report from the out of County investigator, this Board determines that, I move that Chief Zink be suspended for one month, that he payback the time that he has been out on administrative leave during the investigation and that he engage in training and counseling.

Walters moved and Pizzino seconded a motion that Chief Zink be suspended for one month, that he pay back the time he has been on administrative leave during the investigation and that he engage in training and counseling.

                                                                            Hawke      yes
                                                                            Walters     yes
                                                                            Pizzino      yes

So what did Hill's report have to say?

Again, according to media reports, that Chief Zink violated the township's sexual harassment policy going back to 2007, in that he:
  • tried to have a physical or dating relationship with a Jackson PD female police officer who he supervises,
  • knew that the advances were unwanted by her
The report also indicated that Hill determined that "the employee made poor judgements about reporting and addressing the advances ... [and] in that respect, she shares some responsibility for the situation continuing and deteriorating — but her responsibility is secondary to Zink’s and ultimately attributable to the inappropriate environment he initiated and fostered."

Insofar as the trustees are concerned, the political spillover to them is:
  • what took them so long to figure out that there was a problem?
  • why did they elect to keep Zink on the job?
So far it appears that trustees have no answer and with the elections less than a year away Hawke and Pizzino could be paying the price come November.

In keeping Zink on the job, the trustees have created a lightning rod effect that will migrate to them each and every time civic lighting strikes.

Individual citizens are weighing in with "why didn't the trustees fire him?" and on January 22nd, the Jackson police union wrote a letter that spells nothing but troubles between the trustees and the union.

Some of the key points of union dissatisfaction:
  • "Chief Zink's actions are significantly disruptive to the effective functioning of the police force and suggest and utter incapacity to function as a leader and as Chief Executive of [the Jackson] Police Department,"
  • "Zink's actions which occurred over a number of year ... ."
  •  "Chief Zink treats his position as an opportunity for personal gain as opposed as to an opportunity to serve the citizens of [Jackson] Township,"
  • "Chief Zink's standards with regard to other officers of the Police Department seem to far exceed the standards to which he holds himself. ... Township trustees seem to be willing to hold Chief Zink to such a low standard themselves" [which disparity in application of standards. according to Piotrowski, will be used by the union in the future to the advantage of its Jackson sited members], 
  • [That the complaining party and witnesses being transferred involuntarily] "from preferred assignments .... is clear evidence of additional retaliation [which could lead to them] pursuing EEOC complaints ... ."
Pretty heavy stuff, no?

So do you think the trustees are "in a pickle?"

There does appear to be the possibility of wiggle room for the trustees to take additional action against Zink.

Township officials have referred to an allegation that Chief Zink, sometime in 2007, improperly (for personal reasons) used the  Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) database to state officials for investigation.

If the state investigation comes back with a finding against Zink, perhaps, township will be revisiting the matter of his discipline?

Another ramification may be that in their handling of the Zink matter, the trustees have irreparably harmed the public's confidence in Jackson township policing in terms of the trustees' ability to manage it and that therefore it is time for trustees to abandon having its own police department in favor of contracting  policing out to the Stark County sheriff a la Plain Township.

Plain Township (28 square miles) which is about 25% larger than Jackson Township (36 square miles) population wise (51,000 to 40,000)  gets first rate police services from the Stark County sheriff without all the headaches (according to Trustee Louis Giavasis) that Jackson officials have brought on themselves for about $1.5 million.

What is Jackson paying?

How about $7.5 million!

Here are the key provisions of the Plain/Stark County Sheriff agreement:

For all the trials and tribulations that Jacksonians are currently undergoing with its police department and paying at a premium ($7.5 million to $1.5 million) to boot; isn't it time for the trustees to consider solving the township's policing problem by going the Plain Township route?

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