Warren patrolman faces predisciplinary hearing today on charges relating to towed vehicle
By Ed Runyan
Reuben Shaw, a veteran patrolman with the Warren Police Department, is scheduled for a predisciplinary hearing today on six adminstrative charges accusing him of improper conduct while on duty.
Two of the charges suggest that Shaw broke the law when he had a 1969 Chevrolet Nova towed June 30, 2013, from a vacant residence at 2320 Kenwood Drive SW to a garage Shaw controlled.
Shaw has been on paid administrative leave since July when the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation began an investigation into the matter at the request of Police Chief Eric Merkel.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins received the results of the criminal investigation in early March, but no charges have been announced.
According to the administrative charges, which resulted from a Warren Police Department internal-affairs investigation, Shaw had the Nova towed from the locked garage.
“The removal of this vehicle was done without following proper procedures under the department’s Inventory, Tow and Release of Abandoned, Junk, and Other Vehicles policy,” the charges say.
“This removal was done without the authorization of the titled owner of the vehicle and was done without permission or request of the property owner,” the letter says.
Shaw “utilized your position as a Warren Police officer to have May’s Towing transport this vehicle to a garage that you controlled as opposed to having the vehicle towed to an impound lot,” the letter continues.
“These and other actions demonstrate engagement in private activities while on duty and while being paid as a city of Warren police officer,” it says.
The internal-affairs investigation notes relating to the matter are not being released because of the pending criminal investigation, Merkel said Monday.
Shaw was asked to attend a hearing at 1 p.m. today to explain his conduct. The charges could lead to disciplinary action including termination from his job, Merkel said, adding that Merkel has 10 days after the hearing to decide on Shaw’s punishment.
The investigation began last summer but took a long time because of several other questions about Shaw’s activities that arose, Merkel said. All of the administrative charges filed, however, relate to the Nova and not to the other areas investigated.
Among the six administrative charges are two that say Shaw may have violated local, state or federal law.
“Violations of law or disregard for the public safety or property on the part of an officer are intrinsically wrong,” one charge says. “The employment of illegal means ... is certain to encourage disrespect for the law and its officers. If the law is to be honored, those who enforce it must first honor it.”
Another says, “No employee shall violate any local, state, or federal law.”
Another charge says no officer should express “either disrespect for the law or seeking to gain special privilege.” Two other charges accuse Shaw of dereliction of duty for not abiding by the towing policy and using his position to “gain an advantage in personal matters” and conducting private business while on duty.