By JOE GORMAN
Police Chief Rod Foley said “disappointed and disgusted” are the two words that come to mind after a city police officer was arrested early Friday on charges he improperly used pictures of a 14-year-old girl whose juvenile case he had once investigated.
Detective Sgt. Rod Lodwick was arraigned Friday before Judge Robert Milich of Youngstown Municipal Court for the charges of importuning — soliciting a person to engage in sexual conduct — and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Both charges are felonies.
He was given a bond of $50,000 on each count. Foley said he expects the case to be directly presented to a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court grand jury next week.
Lodwick had once been assigned to the department’s Family Services Unit, which investigates domestic crimes and crimes against juveniles. In March, he was moved to the road as a patrol supervisor on the midnight turn. He was called off the road after an investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs Division and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, arrested about 4 a.m. and taken right to jail.
Before his arraignment, a jail employee was overheard on the video hookup from the jail saying other prisoners had to be put in lockdown for Lodwick’s arraignment because several knew him and had threatened him.
Lodwick has been on the force for 13 years and recently was promoted, Foley said. He is on paid administrative leave, but his status will be reviewed again Monday, the chief added.
The matter first came up May 30 when a caseworker for the county Children Services Board talked to a county sheriff’s detective about possible misconduct by Lodwick, said Sheriff Jerry Greene.
Greene then talked with Foley, and it was agreed to have BCI help in the investigation. Joe Dietz, a special-agent supervisor in charge of the Northeast Ohio Cyber Crimes Division, said an undercover agent chatted with Lodwick on the Internet as part of the investigation. After that, they thought it was time to approach Lodwick.
Neither Foley, Greene nor Dietz would detail the specific charges against Lodwick. They also would not say what time frame the alleged conduct occurred. They did say the investigation continues.
City Prosecutor Dana Lantz said during the arraignment that Lodwick had been assigned a case involving the victim when he was in the Family Services Unit. Because of that, Foley said investigators wanted to take quick action because they know that Lodwick has access to a lot of young people who could be vulnerable.
“This [investigation] had wings on it,” Foley said. “We moved very quickly.”
Foley said he knows police officers are held to a higher standard of conduct, and that cases such as Lodwick’s can make the public wary of police and distrustful.
“We felt we lost a lot of that trust today and thought we had to gain it back,” the chief said.