August 21, 2014

Elyria
Clear
70°F
test

Mayor to fire Kipton chief

Village to consider eliminating troubled police department

KIPTON — Mayor Dennis Watson plans to fire suspended Police Chief Pablo Cruz now that a state investigation into the chief is wrapping up, village Solicitor Dan Mason said Tuesday.

Investigation aside, Cruz might have lost his job anyway.

Village Council’s Police Committee will meet tonight with sheriff’s Capt. Richard Resendez to discuss the possibility of eliminating the village’s police department, which has been reduced from seven part-time officers to two since the beginning of the year thanks to suspensions and resignations.

Mason said Watson is sending Cruz — who has been suspended since February — a letter informing him that he will be let go and giving him three days to challenge the termination.

“It’s up to Pablo,” Mason said. “If he wants to fight for a $7-an-hour job, that’s up to him.”

Cruz first was suspended while village officials investigated whether he was paid twice for $98 worth of film that he purchased for the village Christmas party in December. He was suspended for 45 days at the conclusion of that investigation, but when that suspension was done, the village suspended him again to investigate whether he had falsified training documents.

Mason said Watson announced his intentions to terminate Cruz at Monday’s Council meeting after receiving word from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation that it had completed its investigation.

The report will be sent to county Prosecutor Dennis Will for review, said sheriff’s Lt. Luis Silva, who forwarded the case to the BCII.
Cruz’s firing comes on the heels of the indictment of Lt. Robert Wolfkill, who was running the department while Cruz was suspended.

Wolfkill, who was suspended from the department after his arrest last week, is accused of stealing money from an elderly woman he had power of attorney for while working as a police officer in Huron County.

Resendez said he was asked to attend tonight’s meeting to discuss what would happen if the police department was eliminated and sheriff’s deputies took over full-time responsibility for patrolling the village. The sheriff’s office is already the on-call law enforcement department for the village if no Kipton officers are on duty.

“They’re going to discuss it, and they want some input from our office,” Resendez said.

If Kipton were to eliminate its police department, Resendez said, little would change for deputies patrolling in the area.

“When you think about it, we do that now,” he said.

Among the topics Resendez said he will address is contracting with the village to provide an increased police presence if Council does dissolve the department.

Mason said dissolving the department is only one option being looked at — the committee also could recommend hiring a new chief and more officers.

Tina Cruz, Pablo Cruz’s wife, said Tuesday that she and her husband had no comment.

Contact Brad Dicken at 653-6258 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.