April 21, 2014

Elyria
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North Ridgeville chief to get reprimand letter, undergo counseling

Freeman

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — North Ridgeville Police Chief Mike Freeman will receive a letter of reprimand and be required to undergo anger management counseling for his reaction to his wife’s shoplifting arrest last week.

North Ridgeville Mayor Dave Gillock said Freeman engaged in conduct unbecoming of a police officer and violated departmental rules governing courteous behavior when he lost his temper at the Avon Police Department on Nov. 19.

“We felt his actions by becoming vocal and losing his temper did not reflect well on himself, the department and the city,” Gillock said.

Freeman, who did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, went to the Avon Police Department after his wife, Elaine Freeman, was arrested by Avon police around noon Nov. 19 after being stopped by Target employees for allegedly shoplifting health and beauty products.

Avon Police Chief Richard Bosley said his officers followed proper procedures when they handcuffed Elaine Freeman in the store and had her push the stroller with her 2-year-old son to the police cruiser. She was taken to the Avon Police Department where she was booked.

Elaine Freeman was allowed to cover the handcuffs with a blanket as she was led out of the store and her son remained with her throughout the process.

But Chief Freeman has said he was angry that his wife and son were kept in the Avon Police Department’s holding area. He has said he wasn’t upset with Avon police for arresting her.

Bosley has said Freeman was upset because Avon police booked his wife rather than citing and releasing her.

Gillock said he understands why Freeman was upset, but he doesn’t think the chief was asking for special treatment because of his position. He said North Ridgeville police often issue citations to shoplifters and release them, but that’s not Avon’s policy.

Gillock also said that Freeman was out of line by reacting the way he did.

“He needs to at all times as police chief to control himself,” he said.

Avon Mayor Jim Smith, who has said his Police Department handled the situation in an appropriate and compassionate manner, declined to comment on Freeman’s punishment.

Gillock said before he made the decision he reviewed Freeman’s personnel file, which contains only one instance, in 2003, of Freeman losing his cool.

He said Freeman is a good officer who made a mistake and he remains fully confident in his ability to lead the North Ridgeville Police Department.

Gillock said that Freeman plans to sit down with Bosley in the coming weeks to make sure there are no hard feelings and that the two police departments can work together without problems in the future.

Elaine Freeman pleaded not guilty to theft during an appearance Tuesday in Avon Lake Municipal Court, according to court records.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.