December 22, 2014

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Suspended Lorain officer reimbursed 25 days’ pay

LORAIN — A state arbitrator has punctured the city’s punishment of a police officer for not wearing his bulletproof vest.

Last year’s 30-day suspension of Officer Jeff Jackson has been reduced to five days and Jackson will be reimbursed for 25 days’ pay, Mayor Chase Ritenauer said Thursday. Jackson in May of last year responded to a call of officers fighting a mentally disturbed man in a Tower Boulevard apartment complex without wearing his vest, which officers are required to wear on duty.

Jackson couldn’t be reached Thursday, and Officer Kyle Gelenius, Lorain Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 president, didn’t return a call or email. Last year, Gelenius said Jackson was driving to a substation on a hot day for a break and removed the vest before the call. Police traditionally respond en masse to officer-in-trouble calls and Gelenius said Jackson reacted properly.

However, Safety/Service Director Robert Fowler, who disciplined Jackson, said last year that Jackson increased his risks of being wounded by not wearing the vest. Fowler said the length of the suspension was due to Jackson’s previous disciplinary problems.

Jackson was demoted from sergeant in February of last year and suspended 14 days. Jackson was accused of manipulating his hours to get a three-day workweek. Jackson was also criticized for poor attendance in supervisory reviews in 2001, 2006 and 2011, which the union partially attributed to poor health.

While disappointed with the decision, Ritenauer said state arbitrators have upheld past Lorain disciplinary measures. He said he respects the process.

“You win some, you lose some,” Ritenauer said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 oregoodenow@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter at @egoodenowct.