Bath trustees deny grievance filed by detective
By Anne Dennée
BATH — The Bath Township Board of Trustees affirmed Township Administrator William Snow’s decision to deny a grievance filed by Detective Lt. Richard Munsey of the Bath Police Department.
Munsey, who has worked for the township for three decades and has received multiple commendations for his work, was transferred to patrol duty in late April after reportedly failing to follow a direct order from Bath Police Chief Michael McNeely.
On May 15, Munsey submitted a written grievance regarding the issue to Snow, in accordance with the township’s grievance policy. On Aug. 6, Snow denied the grievance and further ordered Munsey to serve three days of suspension for insubordination.
Munsey appealed Snow’s decision to the trustees, and at an Aug. 20 Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees voted to uphold Snow’s decision to deny the grievance. Bath’s legal counsel Robert Konstand presented the decision at the meeting.
The board’s decision stated the insubordination at issue occurred after Munsey conducted an initial internal investigation, as requested by McNeely, regarding an allegation of improper use of force by a Bath police officer during a vehicle chase and subsequent apprehension of a suspect.
According to the board, Munsey’s
report for the initial investigation was a two-and-a-half-page
narrative that did not contain witness or officer statements.
McNeely subsequently requested a full
investigation, which Munsey reportedly twice refused
to conduct on April 25 and 26. Trustees noted Munsey
has conducted numerous full internal investigations
in the past as required by his job description.
In the board’s decision,
trustees found Munsey’s refusal to conduct a full
investigation to be insubordinate, noting that witnesses
saw Munsey use “defiant language” and act
in a manner that was “disrespectful” and
“hostile” toward the chief. They said the
chief has authority over his officers and the chief
was justified in requesting a more thorough investigation.
After Munsey’s reported
refusal to follow McNeely’s orders, McNeely assigned
him as a lieutenant to the Patrol Division with the
same rate of pay and monetary benefits he received as
a lieutenant in the Detective Bureau. The board’s
report also states Munsey did eventually
complete the internal investigation.
The board also ordered McNeely
to prepare a letter of reprimand for Munsey’s
personnel file. However, they removed Munsey’s
three-day suspension and reinstated him to the Detective
Bureau as a detective lieutenant. Trustees said that
they felt that the seriousness of Munsey’s actions
required disciplinary action and they felt a written
reprimand was an appropriate disciplinary response in
light of Munsey’s record of service.
Munsey was ordered to report
for duty in the Detective Bureau Sept. 17. Trustees
stipulated that he will receive the same pay and benefits
he received as both detective and patrol officer.
Konstand advised trustees not
to comment on the decision in the event Munsey decides
to file an administrative appeal in the Summit County
Common Pleas Court.
Munsey did not return a
call for comment by presstime,
but in his written grievance, he claims his reassignment
was the latest in a “continued course” of
retaliation against him by the chief. Munsey alleged
that the chief reduced his responsibilities and made
office staffing changes that hampered his ability to
do his job in February 2006 because Munsey expressed
concerns about possible age discrimination in the hiring
process for a new police captain.
Munsey also stated the chief
“unfairly and inaccurately” described his
performance on his annual review in October 2006. Munsey
said he filed a grievance over the review, and that
grievance was resolved in his favor.
In regards to the incidents leading
to his reassignment, Munsey said he objected to the
chief’s request for an investigation because the
request was made under “inappropriate” circumstances.
Munsey claims his reassignment was
retaliatory and the request for a full investigation
was a pretext for the chief to initiate a confrontation.
In his appeal to trustees, Munsey
denied he was insubordinate or used abusive language,
saying he and the chief disagreed on how the investigation
should be done.
Munsey further claimed that the
three-day suspension recommended by Snow was made in
response to public protests over his reassignment. Munsey
denied any involvement with the protests, saying that
instead he asked people to refrain from criticism during
the grievance process and declined all requests from
the media for comment.
Finally, Munsey asked for an
evidentiary hearing on the matter since he said Ohio
law requires one if a suspension is proposed.
At the meeting, Konstand noted
that since the trustees decided against the three-day
suspension, no evidentiary
hearing would be required.
In other news, trustees authorized
placement of a replacement fire/EMS levy on the Nov.
6 General Election ballot. In a presentation to the
board, Snow and Assistant Fire Chief Tim Gemind said
the fire department is funded with three levies and
EMS billings for nonresidents.
The oldest levy, a 1.5-mill continuing
levy passed in 1985, generates approximately $369,000
a year based on 1985 tax valuations. Snow and Gemind
said the revenue generated by the 1985 levy is insufficient
to provide for projected costs of fire department operations
in the future.
Snow and Gemind presented a comparison
of fire department statistics from 1985 and 2007. In
that time, personnel have more than doubled, from 28
to 62. The number of businesses served also has grown,
from about 100 to about 450, and the number
of single-family dwellings has
increased from 2,850 to 3,200. Calls for service have
risen from 649 to 1,187. Special operations have expanded
from only water rescue to include teams for hazardous
materials and structural collapses as well as confined
space and rope rescues.
Snow said replacing the 1985
levy with a new 1.5-mill continuing levy would generate
$788,400 annually, and he estimated it would cost homeowners
an additional $24.68 a year for each $100,000 of a home’s
market value. The increased funding would be used for
operations, including equipment replacement.
In other business, the board
a resolution ordering
the abatement of vegetation, refuse and debris from
the property at 4140 Everett Road; and
a motion to retain Benjamin
D. Rickey & Co. to research and prepare documents
related to listing township properties on the National
Register of Historic Places. The project, which will
last 18 months and cost $17,000, will include a “multiple
property document” covering the entire township
and nomination of properties along Cleveland-Massillon
Road for historic register designation.
Calendar items include:
√ Aug. 23: Nighttime spider
walk, Bath Nature Preserve, 8:30 p.m.
√ Sept. 3: Labor Day holiday,
township offices closed and trash service delayed one
√ Sept. 19: Barn Social,
6 p.m., for details or to request an invitation, call
the township offices at (330) 666-4007.
The next regular Bath Board of
Trustees meeting will be Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Administration
Complex, 3864 W. Bath Road.