Vienna Township trustees have suspended Police Sgt. Michael Sheehy without pay.
The people of Vienna filled the town hall for Monday’s meeting. Some came to express their opinion on what’s happening with the police department and Sgt. Sheehy.
“They need more training. We need a better quality of officer. We need a citizen’s review board to open the books on these guys and see what they’re doing. The community has been robbed and it’s not right,” Matthew Zoccole said.
Last week, Sheehy was indicted on charges of breaking and entering, theft in office, petty theft, possessing criminal tools, aggravated possession of drugs and grand theft.
“On December 17, 2018, the chief of police of the Vienna Township Police Department, Bob Ludt, received an allegation of misconduct against Sergeant Michael Sheehy,” Trustee Chairman Phil Pegg said during the meeting.
Sheehy is accused of stealing from the Mathews School District, where he was a school resource officer.
After the allegation, he was placed on paid administrative leave. On the last week of his leave, he was indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury, accused of stealing a rifle and some money from the Vienna Police Department on January 28.
He’s charged with stealing M4 rifles from the department, as well as using a lock-out kit to break into a police vehicle and take $700.
Some citizens were upset Police Chief Bob Ludt didn’t do more.
“That should not have happened. That would not have happened if they took action when the initial investigation started,” Zoccole said.
While the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is still looking into it, officers are rotating to fill the Mathews Schools’ resource officer position. Someone has been hired to fill Sheehy’s role as D.A.R.E. officer.
“I recommend the trustees hire Teresa Hartman from Hartford PD. She used to be our D.A.R.E. officer in Vienna,” Ludt said.
The trustees spent about 15 minutes in private with Chief Ludt and council before they came out to the public with their next step, which was to place Sheehy on unpaid leave for 15 days starting on Tuesday.
“The board files charges against Michael Sheehy for misfeasance, malfeasance, misconduct in office and gross immorality,” Trustee Heidi Brown said.
Only two-and-a-half years ago, Sgt. Sheehy was honored for saving a man’s life during an overdose.
Now Sheehy will face charges in a hearing on March 4 in front of the township trustees. They may decide to fire, further discipline or take no action against him.
Vienna Township trustees submitted the following statement before the meeting Monday night:
On December 17, 2018, the Chief of Police of the Vienna Township Police Department, Bob Ludt, received an allegation of misconduct against Sgt. Michael Sheehy from the Superintendent of Mathews Local School District. Chief Ludt immediately contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and asked BCI to conduct an investigation into these allegations. Pending the completion of the investigation by BCI and at the request of the Mathews Local School District, Sgt. Sheehy was taken off his assignment in Mathews Local School District. He was not assigned for any road or patrol duty because of the BCI investigation. The Board of Trustees did not at the time take any formal action against Sgt. Sheehy while the facts were being investigated by BCI. Vienna Township will have no further comment on the allegations made by the Mathews Local School District. All questions should be directed to BCI or the county prosecutor’s office.
The Vienna Township Police Department recently had reason to believe that Sgt. Sheehy was involved in the other situations that were ultimately referred to BCI and the county prosecutor’s office. The Board will consider those matters tonight. But the Board will not have any further comment on them beyond this statement or the resolution that we will consider. Any extraneous comments by any public officials could jeopardize the currently pending criminal case against Sgt. Sheehy.
Vienna Township provided police protection to its residents through police constables. These individuals, like police officers, are granted procedural protections by the Ohio Revised Code. Unlike other local departments, Vienna Township does not have a police department with police officers who have waived some of those statutory protections through a collective bargaining agreement and that would give the township the ability to respond to situations differently than what the Ohio Revised Code spells out. Vienna Township does have the capability; we must follow the Ohio Revised Code. Vienna Township has done that and is doing that. All formal action against police constables must be taken by the Board of Trustees, not by the Chief of Police.
The Board will now consider those formal actions.”