Paul McKibben reports:
A Mason police officer with 30 years on the force has been on paid leave for nearly a year, even though internal investigations concluded he violated departmental policy on working extra details, The Enquirer has learned.
While the city pays Lt. Michael Downey, City Manager Eric Hansen said the disciplinary process cannot be concluded until Downey returns to active duty. Hansen said if Downey had quit or been terminated in October, he would still have been paid for time earned. That is based on a union contract. His current pay is $84,219 annually.
The city granted Downey, 55, a leave of absence Oct. 31, 2011, for personal reasons, leaving the allegations against him unresolved.
Mason Police Chief Ron Ferrell said that Lt. Mike Downey “had some personal issues” but did not elaborate. Downey could be not reached for comment.
Downey’s leave is scheduled to end Oct. 30. Hansen said Downey will be paid until his earned time runs out. Downey has 1,128 hours remaining, enough to pay him another six months at 40 hours per week.
On Oct. 7, 2011, Lt. Paul Lindenschmidt and Lt. Neil Garland submitted to Ferrell an internal investigation report. It concluded that Downey violated several departmental policies, including insubordination and improper conduct on duty.
The investigation concluded that Downey deliberately tried to conceal the number of extra-duty detail hours he worked from May 2011 through August 2011. Extra-duty details are when a third-party pays an officer on his off hours. It’s a common practice among police forces.
The investigation found that Downey worked shifts for officers at Kings Island and other venues. At a June 14 detail, for example, Downey worked a school board meeting for a detective. Downey asked the detective to cash a check for the detail and give the money to him. Downey eventually received the money.
The investigation said Downey, as part of his monthly report, is required to submit the number of extra-duty detail hours he works, along with the officers he supervises. It said Downey submitted these reports knowing the number of hours he was reporting for both himself and Sgt. Jeremy Saylor were false.
The report concluded, at minimum, that Downey violated several departmental policies, including malfeasance and failure to comply with directives. In an interview with investigators on Oct. 6, 2011, Downey said he did not think about the hours on the monthly reports until later and then realized he should have changed them.
In a separate memo filed by Garland and Lindenschmidt on Oct. 7, 2011, to Ferrell, the lieutenants said Downey violated departmental rules concerning a relationship Downey had with a detective’s wife. Those allegations include conducting personal business while on duty and conduct unbecoming of an employee.
The report said the exact nature of the relationship between Downey and the officer’s wife is unknown.
“The relationship itself speaks directly to Lt. Downey’s decision-making ability,’’ the report said. “Lt. Downey used on-duty time to communicate with (the detective’s spouse) for the purpose of continuing his relationship with her.”
If Downey does not return to work, Hansen said, the investigation does not need to be concluded because it’s not a judicial process.
This is not the first time Downey has been linked to policy violations.
An internal investigation filed on July 10, 2009, found that Downey’s timesheet for the period of June 21 to July 4, 2009, was not an accurate reflection of the time worked.
Then-Chief Mike Kelly suspended Downey for three days without pay. Downey at the time had the rank of sergeant. Downey filed a grievance and the suspension was reduced to two days without pay.
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