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Poland school resource officer placed on leave

Also Austintown trustee, Kent accused of felony offense by resident

Steve Kent

POLAND — A school resource officer for the Poland Township Police Department is on unpaid administrative leave while a state agency looks into an alleged crime.

Steve Kent, who also is an Austintown Township trustee, is accused by a resident of committing a felony offense on and off duty. No charges have been filed against him.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the probe. A state special victims unit is involved in the inquiry.

Kent was placed on leave Tuesday and could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Poland police Chief Brian Goodin said he could not comment because of the ongoing investigation.

In a Monday letter sent from Goodin to BCI, he formally asked for assistance “into an allegation made by a Poland Township residence (sic) relative to a Poland Township Police Officer committing a felony offense while on and off duty.”

Kent is a school resource officer, but the leave comes from the police department, not the school district.

The letter asked for assistance due to a conflict of interest if the department were to investigate one of its own.

“I believe the proper agency to conduct this investigation is the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation due to the conflict of interest posed by the Poland Township Police Department,” the chief said in his letter.

Steve Irwin, a spokesman for BCI, said the unit investigating the incident is the special victims unit.

“The special victims unit specializes in investigating victim-centered crimes affecting populations that benefit from specialized law enforcement handling. Examples include children, the elderly and human-trafficking victims, and the crimes can include abduction, sexual assault, financial abuse and / or physical abuse,” Irwin wrote this newspaper in an email.

He added once the investigation is complete, the case is given back to the police department and the county prosecutor’s office, and those entities will handle the case when it is returned.

Staff writer Ashley Fox contributed to this story.

nhawthorne@vindy.com

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