By emmalee torisk
A Girard patrol officer is on paid leave after police said they found juveniles drinking beer and smoking marijuana in a garage at his house.
No charges have been filed against the officer, Larry Neely, who has been with the Girard Police Department since 2008.
Police had received numerous tips regarding underage drinking at Neely’s Mosier Road house, a police report says.
Police said they were told the parties typically occurred on Saturdays and began between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Those who attended them would park a short walking distance away from the house.
About 11 p.m. Saturday, officers on patrol noticed cars beginning to park on Iowa Avenue, which is adjacent to Neely’s residence. They also observed several juveniles quickly walking from their cars to the residence, apparently trying not to be seen.
Police met an 18-year-old in the driveway, and they went to the garage. There, they smelled marijuana and found beer cans on a pingpong table. In the garage were juveniles and adults who are not old enough to drink, a police report says.
Mayor Jim Melfi said the police department is investigating to what extent Neely knew about the parties, if he knew at all.
“Our concern is and always will be the welfare of the children,” he said.
Police Chief Jeff Palmer said Neely’s leave is in accordance with the department’s protocol, and it began immediately after Saturday night’s incident.
Palmer added that the duration of his leave depends on how long the department’s internal investigation takes, explaining that the next step is to finish interviewing those involved. He hopes to wrap up the investigation by the end of this week.
Staff writer Jeanne Starmack contributed to this report.