A criminalist, who was fired from his job at the Canton-Stark County Crime Laboratory on charges of work rule violations, has been reinstated. The Canton Civil Service Commission issued a 120-day unpaid suspension. Michael Short will be back on the job next week because the suspension counts time he was already off work.
The Canton-Stark County Crime Laboratory criminalist who had been fired on allegations of work-rule violations will be back on the job next week.
The Canton Civil Service Commission recently ruled that Michael Short should be reinstated, but he was given a 120-day suspension without pay.
In May, Safety Director Thomas Ream fired Short, a crime lab employee for about 21 years with no prior discipline record.
Short had been accused of falsifying a report related to firearm testing. Disciplinary charges also included improper job performance and insubordination. Ream is out of the office this week and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The time Short already has been off work will count toward the suspension, said Samuel Sliman, the city’s civil service director. Short’s annual salary was $62,392 at the time he was dismissed.
A phone message seeking comment was left with the office of attorney Robert Tscholl, who represented Short at the civil service hearing.
The Civil Service Commission decided that Short had not falsified a report, according to the finding and order it issued in the case. However, according to the document, “Short’s failure to follow the administration review process established by the crime lab does constitute insubordination and improper job performance, and is appropriate grounds for disciplinary action by the appointing authority.”
But “based upon the absence of previous disciplinary violations over the course of his career with the crime lab, termination was not the appropriate remedy,” the order said.
At the civil service hearing late last month, Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Dennis Barr and Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge Lee Sinclair were called as witnesses by Tscholl, and both officials complimented the quality of Short’s work, Sliman said.
The testimony was influential in the commission’s decision, he said. The commission includes Thomas Ascani, Scott Warner, Warren Chavers.
Two other criminalists testified on behalf of the city.
The improper job performance violation stemmed from Short failing to notice a bullet hole in a piece of clothing during the examination process, according to records in the police investigation.
When it was pointed out, Short said he took immediate steps to correct the situation, according to a disciplinary hearing report issued earlier by Ream.
The falsification charge stemmed from another case involving Short’s gunshot-related analysis related to a felonious assault investigation.
In paperwork, Short used the term, “using the firearm,” which investigators say indicated the gun had been test-fired when it had not.
Short said the description of “using the firearm” did not mean he test-fired the weapon, according to Ream’s report. Short had told a police investigator that there was not a code in the computer system to specify that he didn’t discharge the gun.
Page 2 of 2 - Short explained that his results — in determining the distance from which the gun was fired — were gained through past experience with firearms and ammunition.
NO CASES AFFECTED
In addition, a crime lab employee told an investigator that he returned reports to Short to be done correctly regarding the gun-related analysis and the test-firing of a firearm. The reports, which were not corrected or administratively reviewed, were placed in a bin to be sent back to the submitting law enforcement agency, according to police records.
Police Chief Bruce Lawver has said that an internal audit showed the problems had been isolated. No cases were impacted because the evidence in question had not been sent to the prosecutor’s office or introduced in court, Ream has said.