- 11/1/2018 3:49:24 PM
- Jesse Smith
- Local News
CRESTLINE, OH - The Village of Crestline has released its list of charges against former Crestline Police Chief Joe Butler.
In the statement of charges obtained by WMFD, the Village of Crestline accuses Butler of "incompetency, inefficiency, dishonesty, neglect of duty, insubordination, failure of good behavior, and other acts of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance in the performance of the marshal's (Chief's) official duties in violation."
The statement also includes an appendix with observations from interim police chief Jeffrey Shook, who conducted a review of several of Butler's actions as police chief.
Butler was placed on leave on August 30th, after being escorted from the building by Crawford County Sheriff's Office personnel. Multiple firearms were recovered from Butler's home on September 9th and taken back to the Crestline Police Department.
Crawford County Prosecutor Matthew E. Crall then sent an email to Ohio Assistant Attorney General Stephen Schumaker on September 10th. Crall said he had "serious concerns" about the Crestline Police Department and their handling of evidence, potentially compromising pending cases. On September 17th, Crestline Village Council appointed Jeffrey Shook as the village's Interim Police Chief during Butler's suspension.
On October 3rd, a video that Butler had taken on his bodycam was released, showing Crestline Mayor Allen Moore casually using racial slurs in a private conversation. Moore later stepped down after public pressure for him to resign increased.
The statement of charges is included in its entirety below with only format edits.
VILLAGE OF CRESTLINE - STATEMENT OF CHARGES ISSUED TO JOE BUTLER OCTOBER 30, 2018
From: Village of Crestline
To: Joe Butler
RE: Disciplinary Causes of Action
Date: October 29, 2018
The list of charges below constitutes incompetency, inefficiency, dishonesty, neglect of duty, insubordination, failure of good behavior, and other acts of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance in the performance of the marshal's (Chief's) official duties in violation of including but not limited to the Ohio Revised Code section 737.171 and other applicable provisions, Department policies including body camera use policy, and of the Personnel Policies of the Village.
The charges are outlined below also identify the nature of the violation. The listing of the violations also includes misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance in the performance of duties.
- Policies: Chief did not promulgate administrative or procedural rules or policies for the officers or employees of the Police Department. The "policies" that exist are maintained in a "book" that is not readily available to officers, not indexed, and not updated.
- Evidence Inventory: No inventory of evidence has been located at the Police Department since Chief Butler has been on administrative leave.
- Security System: No staff members or Village Administration were provided keys or access to the server and video recording devices for Village Hall or Police Department security system. During Chief's vacation in 2018, Village Administration was unable to access these devices as no Police Department staff member had training or access. Village Fire Department did not have a key to this secured area housing electronic equipment in case of fire or emergency.
- Computer Hard Drives and Backup: When placed on administrative leave Chief removed a hard drive from one computer placing it and an external hard drive in file drawers in the dispatch center only revealing the locations of the computer hard drives when questioned in an investigatory interview. The hard drives contained extensive recordings of other persons.
- Security System: No police department personnel were fully trained in the use of the video security system. Police Department personnel were unable to download video files for playback of any security cameras. In Chiefs absence there was no one available with knowledge of how to review security video.
- Public Records: In Chiefs absence there was no one adequately trained to respond to public records requests for security camera or other video recording footage. Training and Training Records. Chief did not have an appropriate and documented training regime for new hires. No records of training were maintained by Chief.
- Supervision: Chief in 2018 left newly hired Captain in charge during chiefs absence after minimal training (3 weeks total). Captain did not have access to secured areas, armory, records, security cameras, etc. Chief left a note posted in Dispatch stating that if there were any problems officers were directed to contact part-time Officer Sean Nolen.
- Mandatory Overtime: Chief forced Officers to attend mandatory training for maintaining police certification on their own time.
- Holding Facility: Officers have not received adequate training in operation of the temporary holding facility. In the past year, two detainees have suffered injury in this facility and on one occasion two officers were forced to call the Crawford County Sheriffs Office for back-up in handling one detainee.2. Improper and/or Inadequate Training and of Use of Equipment, Failure to Dispose or Sell Confiscated Property, Failure to follow Federal and State overtime laws and procedures, Improper Use of Village Facilities, Improper assignment of duties to Officers: Incompetency, Neglect of Duty, Incompetency, Dishonesty
- Arsenal of Weapons. Chief maintained an arsenal of automatic weapons, shotguns, etc. not readily available to officers and failed to adequately train the officers in order to allocate the weapons to the officers for use.
- Storage of Weapons. Chief maintained Village owned weapons at his home without written authorization or knowledge of Village Administration. Chief stored fully automatic weapons and other firearms in a detached garage at his home.
- Property forfeiture. Chief failed to insure seized vehicles had been properly forfeited to the Village and appropriate title paperwork had been done to transfer ownership or sell seized vehicles. Chief has failed to sell or dispose of confiscated property including vehicles.
- Evidence and Security. Chief indicated to Solicitor Burton that evidence and case related information was stored in a room located In the Golden Age Center. This room was not secured by video monitoring or alarm system and had three windows facing the street. There was no secondary officer assigned to control of or have access to this room in the Chief's absence.
- Federal Overtime Laws. Chief had been advised by police staff that longevity pay should be included in overtime pay calculations. Chief refused to follow state and federal law on this point. This resulted in the Village to undergo federal audit, finding against the Village, and to provide back pay to all affected officers.
- Securing Evidence. Chief was advised by Mayors Court clerk that fingerprints should be collected on OVI cases and certain other misdemeanors. Chief refused to follow state law.
- Drug Task Force. Chief Butler has not participated in the METRICH task force since Captain Blankenship resigned. Chief Butler had informed a former Administrator that the Police Department had an officer assigned to the drug task force.
- Access to Armory. Chief has failed to insure Officers had access to the armory. In his absence no officers have access to the armory, weapons or ammunition. In Chief Butler's absence no one has access to the armory.
- Inventory Control. Chief has failed to provide adequate inventory controls resulting in unnecessary stockpiling of ammunition. No current inventory of ammunition is maintained by Chief.
- Assignment of Equipment, Weapons. Chief Butler placed Officers in jeopardy by refusing to provide back-up weapons in the form of shotguns or rifles for police vehicles. Many Officers have only their service weapon and Taser while working their shift. Chief failed to insure Officers were properly trained in the use of the automatic weapons or shotguns.
- Improper Use of Village Property, Facilities. The Village operates a temporary holding facility. The cells in this facility are inaccessible for detainees as the Chief used them for personal storage and inventory. Chief Butler admitted using the jail cells for personal storage and he was seen removing 5 boxes of material from these cells on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, the day before being placed on administrative leave.
- Improper Assignment of Police Officers. Chief Butler assigned sworn law enforcement officers to clean the Police Department, including a specific listing of cleaning duties. This was required of all officers while on duty removing the officers from law enforcement duties.3. Improper Use of Body Camera and other Recording Devices of the Village
- Neglect of Duty, Failure of Good Behavior, Failure to follow Village policy when recording numerous persons. Details of this charge are included in the Appendix to this Statement of Charges prepared by Acting Chief Shook.
- Recordings were made without the consent of the recorded party, some where the persons specifically asked to not be recorded. Butler recorded people in secret and Butler was not a party to the conversation.4. Untruthful Statements, : Dishonesty, Failure of Good Behavior, Insubordination
- Untruthful Statement to Village Administrator: On Tuesday, August 14, Chief Butler was untruthful to former Village Administrator Ratliff by indicating that Officer Tenore was assigned to the METRICH task force. According to METRICH, there is no assigned officer and there is no ongoing relationship with the Crestline P.D.
- New Cruiser Assignment: Chief Butler was repeatedly instructed by the Mayor to place the newest police cruiser into the rotation of vehicles assigned to officers. Butler refused and assigned that vehicle as his personal vehicle. c. Failure to Provide Access to Facilities. Chief Butler when asked, refused to provide access to rooms in the Golden Age center, citing they were secured rooms.
- Untruthful Statements: Chief Butler lied to the Mayor and Village Solicitor when he informed them that there was evidence stored in the locked room at the Golden Age center. Upon inspection, there was no evidence stored within the room.
- Improper Record Keeping: Found in the storage room were various reports and LEADS print outs dating from 2010 to 2014. These were not arranged or filed in order. The records were scattered throughout several desks and file cabinet drawers. This is improper storing of these documents.
- Failure to Follow Instruction: Chief Butler has been directed to provide shotguns for Police vehicles. He has refused to do so.
- Failure to Provide Passwords: Upon being placed on administrative leave, Chief Butler was asked to provide all passwords, codes, and keys. He failed/refused to provide a password for the video security system, he failed/refused to provide a password or access for the armory, failed/refused to provide a password for the 911 telephone server in the Dispatch Office. The village had to hire an IT consulting company to obtain access. Chief Butler failed to provide keys for various offices within the police department (no one else had keys, requiring the hiring of a locksmith).
- Village Cell Phone: Chief failed to turn in his city issued cell phone (EDITOR'S NOTE: Number Removed) at the time he was placed on administrative leave. Chief Butler routinely used his personal cell phone to record conversations with Village officials during duty hours and while in uniform. If these recordings are considered public records Chief Butler has not adequately preserved these recordings according to the department or Village records retention policy.5. Removal of Items From Village Offices, Missing and/or Improper Maintenance of Department Files, Improper Use of Village Facilities
- Incompetence/negligence: On Wednesday, August 29, 2018, the day before he was placed on administrative leave Chief Butler removed numerous items from his office. There is no inventory of those items. Chief did not advise Administration of items he was removing from Village offices. Chief also removed a hard drive from one computer and placed that hard drive and another hard drive in the back of a file drawer in the dispatch room. Chief did not disclose this action until his investigatory interview.
- Missing Personnel Files: Personnel files for former Officers Cox, Blankenship and Eshelman are missing and not in the files of the Chiefs Office. To date those files have not been provided by Chief. Personnel files for Officer Petrie, Dispatcher Lusk, and Chief Butler are not in the files of the Chiefs office. To date those files have not been provided by Chief.
- Improper Administrative Procedures: At the time of his administration leave cash and checks were left on the desk of the Chief. These checks date from more than two months ago. One check appears to be for court ordered restitution, others appear to be sponsorship for the Crestline Car Show. The Chief failed to follow basic steps in securing the cash to be able to account for the monies or failed to request instruction on how to handle cash.
- Use of Jail Cells: Jail cells are used as evidence lockers. Some jail cells and other locations in the Department contain multiple Christmas presents. These were not distributed after 2017 Christmas fund raiser and gift donations from members of the Department and the public.
- Use of Jail Cells: Jail cell used as cleaning supplies storage room. Multiple cleaning supplies found. See pictures. These include over 25 boxes of paper. Excessive amounts of supplies were maintained which also demonstrates unwillingness to cooperate or coordinate with other Village departments in the purchase of supplies.
- Weapons Inventory: Weapons inventory found more fully auto M-16's, 2 full auto MP-40's (approx. $10,000 each), 6 AR-15's (in addition to the 12 that were recently purchased).
10-25-2018I was asked as the assigned acting Chief of Police to review the Body Camera Videos that were located on 2 different hard drives. One hard drive was a 250GB Western Digital hard drive and the other was a STB Seagate Backup plus external hard drive. The External hard drive was accessed easily with a USB connector and power source. The 250GB was accessed using a write block connected to the Hard drive and mounted with a forensic Computer. The hard drive was password protected so the Hard drive was imaged and saved on the Forensic computer. The image was then processed using a forensic tool by the name of FTK or Forensic Tool Kit by access data. Several body camera videos were discovered on the Hard Drive and were able to be viewed. It appears that the videos on the Hard Drive were duplicate copies of what was located on the external hard drive. It is unknown whether there are additional videos on the hard drive as there was insufficient time available to view all the videos.
Upon viewing several of the Body Camera Videos and at the direction of the Village of Crestline officials several videos of interest were saved in different files depending on the video content. I created different folders to parse the videos out to. The following videos and descriptions only depict a portion of the total number of videos contained on the digital media that was recovered and it is believed that there is a sizeable number of videos missing. The last downloaded body camera footage was dated 07-26-2018. Due to the consistent routine that is evident in the videos that were viewed, Chief Butler would have continued the same routine of video recording every interaction from late July 2018 until the time and date that he was placed on leave. Due to time constraints the entire collection of videos could not be viewed by me.Folder 1 (Byerly)
Of the numerous videos that were recorded of conversations with Mayor Byerly (7) were exported from the Hard Drive and viewed as files of interests. Some facts that should be noted include but are not limited to are:
- Several Conversations with the Byerly while he was still acting Mayor in his office, council chambers and around the building. The subject of the conversations typically evolved around Allen Moore when he was on council. There was a lot of anger towards Allen Moore and they were both very honest with their negative opinions.
- During one specific conversation it was recorded that Mr. Byerly asked Chief Butler if he was being recorded and Chief Butler chuckled and said no, he would never do that.
- There was a conversation in the council chambers that was recorded where the mayor and the Chief was discussing the facts of an OVI that the Mayor had received. They were talking about someone on council trying to attain the facts of the case.
- Following the Mayors Term, there is a lengthy conversation that takes place in Mr. Byerly's Kitchen talking about the now Mayor Allen Moore. Once again, the theme of the negative conversation was about Mayor Allen Moore and his conduct in office.
- There are instances in these conversations where Chief Butler would harp on the fact that everyone was after him, and that he wished they would just fire him.Folder 2 (Council)
There are numerous video recordings of council meetings that were open to the public. I only parsed out a few of these to establish a theme of constant recording. Some of the videos of interest in the folder include but are not limited to:
- Private meetings with several different council members. Some of the videos were captured in council chambers, Village offices, in the Chief's Office (behind closed doors), and at their homes.
- Several of the videos include the comment "just between you and me" when in fact he was knowingly recording the conversation.Folder 3 (Detective Meeting)
There were bodycam videos that were discovered showing that Chief Butler was video taping the monthly detective meetings that agencies have jointly with a representative from the Crawford County Prosecutors Office.
- During these meetings, confidential drug cases, informant info, prosecution strategy, and open Major crime cases from around the county are discussed. This should never happen and is a huge violation of trust with the agencies and peers we work hand in hand with. The reasoning behind recording these meetings is certainly reason for concern and would wonder what the motivation to record these meetings was.
- In addition to recording the meeting he continued into Offices inside the Sheriff's Office and recorded while speaking with command staff at the Sheriff's office.
Folder 4 (Prosecutors Office)
There were numerous Body Camera recordings that document closed door meetings with the Crawford County Prosecutor and his staff. Case info was discussed, and one would think that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in their offices.Folder 5 (Videos of Interest)This folder was created as a "catch-all" folder to place videos that were out of the ordinary. As I proceeded through the totality and number of videos to look at, I quickly realized that there would not be enough space to put them all. To describe all the "out of the ordinary" videos would be a massive project as approx. 90-95% of the videos I viewed fell outside the scope of what the body camera purpose is and outside the scope of any written policy I am aware of or have viewed. Some of the videos of interest that I would like to note include but are not limited to the following:
- Several videos show that the video camera would be engaged while sitting or standing outside of a room where a conversation would be taking place. The people having the conversation would be inside of an office without knowledge that they were being recorded or that he was even present. This could be interpreted as a wiretapping crime
- Numerous videos show that he would be having secret conversations with Village personnel and It was clear that the conversation was meant to be private since both parties would be whispering, to not be heard outside the area that the conversation was taking place.
- Numerous videos show meetings that are taking place in Attorney Burtons office. Some of them Mr. Ratliff is present and some of them it's just Mr. Burton. Once again it is my opinion that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy attached to the Attorneys office and behind closed doors.
- Numerous videos show him inside of different professional offices throughout the village having meetings with employees and/or citizens.
- Numerous videos that show Chief Butler was returning money from a K9 fund to people that donated. Some of the videos show that he is soliciting donations and it is difficult to distinguish one from another.
- Numerous videos of him engaging in conversations with the Village Managers (whomever it was at that time) The content of the conversations were typically one of a few subjects: Personnel, Mayors, Actions of People that are out to get the Chief fired.
- Numerous Videos of him engaged in conversations with the Mayor (Whomever it was at that time) Very few conversations had to do with the business of running a police department: actions of Council, Village administrators' actions, People that are out to get the Chief fired.
- Several Conversations with Christi Knauber talking about what is going on with either the Mayor of Village Administrator. Several of the conversations were had while whispering to one another.
- Numerous conversations where it was clear that Chief Butler didn't want the audio recorded as he would cover the mic portion of the BC to not capture audio. Video was not interrupted other than his hand covering the lens as he covered the mic. Most of these conversations were with Village employees.
- On several occasions while Chief Butler was driving and talking on the telephone, he would place the phone on speaker mode and video tape the conversation.
- There are a few videos that show Chief Butler messing with his phone while it was in record mode. • Chief Butler recorded conversations he would have with his staff. Closed door meetings and when talking to them in the hallway.
- Numerous meetings recorded in his office behind closed doors with the Mayor, Council members, citizens, officers, firemen and whomever he met with.
- There is a video that captures Chief Butler having 2 small external hard drives that he would work from. He was very careful not to let these out of his reach and typically kept them with him. I am unaware that those hard drives have been recovered.In my OPINION, it appears as if whenever Chief Butler would leave his office to speak to anyone, he would turn on his body camera. Every time he went to the administration offices and or spoke to staff, you could guarantee that he was recording.One thing that was obvious was the fact that the videos show that every time he would turn on his Body Camera, he would place it in covert mode. The "Covert mode" blacks out the lights to not bring attention to the body camera or the fact that he could be recording. This indicates to me that he knew what he was doing and intentionally tried to mask the fact that he was recording. Looking at the Body Worn Camera Policy (BWC) he was continuously violating that policy daily.As a matter of speaking out of the 1-200 videos that I watched, I can only recall three (3) videos where he captured himself doing "Police work". All other videos would be outside the scope of the policy.I found it interesting that when he was talking to administration about firing an employee the reasons he cited were for violating policy. Given that this is his reasoning to fire someone under those conditions then he meets his own criteria for what a fireable offense is.
Please note that these opinions are based on a sampling of the videos that were produced.
I would also like to note that I take no pleasure in preparing this document as the opinions given are in direct conflict with a peer. I was asked for an opinion-based evaluation of the videos and I rely on my 30-year police career as the basis for my opinions.Chief Jeffrey A Shook, MSCJ
The Ohio Highway Patrol is currently investigating a plane crash in Wayne County.
The Winter Storm over the weekend left Mansfield with approximately 12.5 inches of snow.
Ashland State Highway Patrol Trooper, James Gross was shot in the line of duty 23 years ago.