A union representative for Jackson Township police officers read a strongly worded letter to trustees Tuesday that questioned how Police Chief David Zink could effectively lead the department.
Township police officers accused Police Chief David Zink Tuesday of treating his position as an opportunity for personal gain rather than as an opportunity to serve the residents.
The officers, through a strongly worded letter read by a union representative at Tuesday’s Jackson Township trustee meeting, also questioned how Zink could continue to function as the department’s leader after an out-of-county investigator determined that Zink violated the township’s harassment policy and had lied about his knowledge of past incidents.
“Perhaps of more concern is the fact that the Township Trustees seem to be willing to hold Chief Zink to such a low standard themselves,” read Chuck Wilson, senior staff representative for the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council.
Wilson said the letter, which is addressed to trustees, represents the concerns of the union patrol officers, who met Jan. 2 to discuss how best to address trustees about their concerns regarding the chief. He said the union clerical employees also sent a letter of support.
During a terse exchange between Wilson and Trustee James Walters, Wilson said he did not seek the endorsement of the lieutenants or sergeants, whose unions also are represented by the FOP.
Walters and Trustees John Pizzino and Todd Hawke did not take action on the letter Tuesday and gave no indication that they would seek to further discipline Zink, who is serving a 30-day suspension that ends Jan. 31 and must forgo nearly three weeks of his seven-week vacation leave and take training and counseling sessions. Trustees issued the discipline in December after reviewing the investigator’s report that said the chief made multiple unwanted sexual advances toward one of the department’s employees.
Zink’s attorney Robert Tscholl said the chief, who attended the meeting with his wife, denies the allegations and suggested to trustees that the claims were being made by someone who has “another agenda” that likely soon would become public.
“He had a long-term nonsexual, friendly relationship with the accuser,” he said.
Tscholl added that Zink, a 26-year veteran of the department who became chief in 2010, has effectively managed the police department during tough financial times and has fired unsatisfactory employees when necessary for the township’s benefit.
“Apparently, that doesn’t sit well with some officers,” Tscholl said.
Alene Markowski, who identified herself as the mother of the female police employee who has accused Zink of sexual harassment, disputed Tscholl’s claim that her daughter has an ulterior motive.
“My daughter wanted nothing,” Markowski said. “She just wanted it to stop.”
Township resident Jodi Westphal asked trustees what changes they plan to make so the female employee wouldn’t face the same situation when Zink returns Feb. 1.
Page 2 of 2 - “How could we expect this woman to go back to work in the same conditions?” Westphal asked.
Walters, who said the township’s attorney advised the trustees to not publicly speak about the situation, said trustees expect all township employees to follow the township’s policies. He added that attorney Tscholl already had denied the accusations against the chief.
“If there was indeed sexual harassment, it’s not going to go on anymore,” Walters said.
The state agency that Jackson Township trustees asked to investigate whether Police Chief David Zink improperly accessed a restricted law-enforcement database in 2007 for personal use has notified trustees that it lacks enough specific information to further pursue the complaint.
Les Reel, a Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) security officer, said unless the LEADS steering committee receives additional, more detailed information about the possible database violation, it will consider the issue closed. The committee is an advisory board to the Ohio Highway Patrol, which oversees the statewide database.
Trustees referred the possible violation to the state on Jan. 3 after an investigator the township hired could not verify a female police department employee’s allegation that Zink drove by her house and used the database to obtain her boyfriend’s personal information by looking up the license plate number of his vehicle, which had been parked in her driveway.
Zink has denied the allegations.