Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Over the last two days the SCPR has received seven press releases from the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Undoubtedly, the man needs his publicity inasmuch as he is up for reelection in a little over a year.

But he does need to "put first things first."

For Stark Countians and more particularly Jackson Township residents there is a need for DeWine's office to make a determination one way or the other as to whether or not Chief of Police David Zink is to face criminal charges on allegations that he has had inappropriate conduct vis-a-vis with what appears to be several female employees of Jackson Township.

The SCPR has been impressed with the work that DeWine has done in bringing the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) laboratory unit up to standard and beyond in terms of processing evidence and making the results available to local law enforcement throughout Ohio "at no charge."  (LINK to specifics cited in a February 21, 2013 SCPR blog)

The Zink case makes it abundantly clear that DeWine has work to do in creating a framework for his BCI to improve their completing criminal investigations.

DeWine's dithering and delay has left Jackson in disarray in terms of its policing.

The township is paying Zink (at $91,000 plus on an annualized basis) to sit at home and do nothing while the investigation inches along.

It is also paying an "acting chief" extra to take on Zink's duties.

Beyond that, the attorney general's "slow to conclude its investigation" has lingering impacts on the morale of the Jackson police officer corps as indicated by a January 22, 2013 letter from the township's police union to township trustee (LINK to prior SCPR blog to see copy of letter).

In the letter, the union made the following profound point among a half-a-dozen or so (see SCPR "copy of letter" [January, 30, 2013 blog):
"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,"
Obviously, DeWine is not doing the investigation himself.  But as the accountable elected official, it is up to him to be monitoring and nudging the matter along.

Hopefully within the next short while the SCPR will receive a press release heralding the results of the Zink investigation.

Then and only then does it appear that trustee officials are willing to move forward.

While Jackson Board of Trustees James N. Walters is quoted as saying:
  •  “I don’t like it either, but it is what it is, and every other person in this position would do the exact same thing because there is no other choice,” 
the SCPR thinks that the trustees have been fumbling and bumbling in their dealings with the chief going all the way back through his pre-chief days into 2007.

From the January 30th blog:
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.
Also, there has been a prior "put him on administrative leave" incident in November/December 2012 on the basis of investigated allegation by a female police officer that Zink had sexually harassed her.  Zink had denied the allegations.  However, on the basis of the township ordered investigation, he was suspended for 30 days in January, 2013 and he lost three weeks vacation time as a make up for prior time that he was on leave.

With Zink's history with the township going back to 2007, one has to wonder how in the world they were able to come to the decision to hire him as chief in March, 2010?

While Trustee Todd Hawke was not part of the decision, Walters and John Pizzino were.  Pizzino is standing for reelection this November.

Could it be that his being a part of what the SCPR believes to have been a monumental failure of the trustees to deal with past Zink matters will come back to haunt Pizzino this fall?

And perhaps Jackson Township voters will want to underscore their dissatisfaction with the trustees' management of the whole Zink situation by ensnaring Hawke into political retribution.

Between Attorney General Mike DeWine's BCI dilly-dallying around with the investigation and the trustees' ineffectiveness, Jacksonians have to be totally frustrated with the resulting disarray in the Jackson Police Department.

Normally, the Republican DeWine could expect strong support the from the strongly Republican Jackson Township when November, 2014 rolls around.

But perhaps not, given the stress that his BCI tardiness in completing its Zink investigation is reeking on Jackson Township law enforcement.

In a close election, a community like Jackson could be a difference maker.

So it might be in order for the attorney general to concentrate less on the public/political promoting press releases and more on doing with BCI investigations turnaround timetable as he as done with the BCI lab, no?

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