THE WOODLAWN POLICE ISSUE

 Updated: 20 Jan 2020

DOING THE RIGHT THING

OVERVIEW:

The Request: For Woodlawn Ohio to do the right thing by re-appointing me as a police officer long enough to resign/retire. It would only be for a few seconds - or an hour at most if a public ceremony is requested by Woodlawn.

Summarized History: I was appointed to the Woodlawn, OH police force in 1971 as a probationary officer. I was kept on probation for two years and then terminated because the Lieutenant (Jim Webster) was an anti-Semite. The Lt. wrote a letter to the Chief saying he would not recommend my tenure, writing: “Klein would be better off with his own kind of people.” Then Detective Tom McDaniel is witness to this letter. 

Problem I: The certifying authority, Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission (OPOTC), has refused to exercise their discretionary powers (ORC 109:2-1-12, B4, H) to acknowledge my life-long commitment to law enforcement by re-certifying me as a police officer just for this short time. OPOTC emailed me saying the only way to be re-certified is to complete the standard training course. At 77-years of age, I am not physically able to do such.

 

Problem II: Woodlawn's position is they can’t re-appoint me retroactive to my termination in 1973 because I am not now an OPOTC certified LEO and because they “don’t know me.” I have assured them I have no ulterior motives nor am I seeking retribution or any monetary claims whatsoever and will agree to any conditions they wish and to sign any releases and submit to a background check. I just want them to right a wrong.

 

The Question: Would it be any different if I was black, Hispanic, LGBT, Catholic, Baptist…? In other words, is it acceptable to allow this wrong to remain because I’m only a Jew?

 

CONTACTS: 

 

Tom McDaniel (email available on request)

 

Police Chief, Aaron L. Tillman III, CLEE atillman@beautifulwoodlawn.us

 

Woodlawn Village Solicitor, Emily T. Supinger ETSupinger@strausstroy.com

 

Woodlawn Village Manage: Jerry Thamann jthamann@beautifulwoodlawn.us

 

Legislative Aide to Ohio Senator Terry Johnson, 14th Senate District: Zachary DeCamp,  Zachary.DeCamp@ohiosenate.gov 614-466-8082

 

OPOTC: Brittany D. Brashears Brittany.Brashears@ohioattorneygeneral.gov

 

OPOTC: Richard Hardy Richard.Hardy@ohioattorneygeneral.gov

 

  

THE BACK STORY 

Over 150 applicants took the test for Woodlawn, OH Patrolman in 1971 for the three open positions. White-flight was a significant factor in the Village of Woodlawn, Ohio, at the time. The newly elected mayor and the majority of the village council were now black. The police chief and all but two of the 15-man roster were white. In conversations with police chief, Tom Trainer, about my hiring on, the Chief told me the Mayor wanted to hire only black recruits, but if he could negotiate successfully to be able to hire only one white, I was it. After all background checks, I had finished #1; while the highest-ranking black men were numbers 7 and 14.

The Chief did not learn I was Jewish until the final interview before him and the mayor, Jim Keels. During this interview, Mayor Keels asked me how I would handle working with, arresting and helping blacks. My response, “Sir, I’m Jewish and am well aware of what discrimination is and does and I have no desire to discriminate against anyone in any way.” I got the job, soon learning it was much to the displeasure of Lieutenant Jim Webster. Skipping over other qualified applicants, candidates nos. 7, and 14 were also hired.

At the end of the statutory 6-month probation period, I asked the Chief if my probation period was complete. He replied that I was on a 1-year probation. I was never advised of that upon my hiring on. At the end of 18 months, I was called into the Chief’s office and told he was extending my probation for another 6-months because I wasn’t getting along with the other officers. When I asked which officers, he replied, “you know who.” I knew, it was the Lt., Bill Fidelity and Wendel Thompson and Sgt. Pete Rogers.

During my probation periods, I had worked a number of 3rd shifts with Sgt. Pete Rogers who had shown me his collection of keys to multiple local businesses. On one occasion, he ordered me to accompany him into one of these businesses where he used these keys to open a closed business and the vending machines therein. Helping himself to the contents, he tried to get me to enjoy the free food and candy. I refused, feinting a lack of hunger. He then told me he was part of a group that included Chief Trainer and others who stole goods and products and if I ratted them out, they would shoot me in the knees.

Not sure if I could trust Chief Trainer, I visited Chief Bill Kruger of Amberley Village whom I knew I could trust. He told me to make written notes and if I had to steal merchandise to bring it to him to be logged in their secure evidence room. He also advised me to contact the FBI as they are charged with investigating corrupt police officers. I did, but shortly thereafter, Rogers’ girlfriend turned him in for stealing a projector and film from WXIX-TV whose offices were in Woodlawn. Rogers was eventually convicted and sentenced to prison. I was never sure Chief Trainer knew that I knew that he was implicated in the theft ring, but….

 THE REST OF THE STORY  

Upon applying for my first full-time law enforcement job, I was asked why I wanted to be a cop. My spontaneous reply: I liked being in a position of being able to help people. That outlook has remained through my life as I tendered what assistance I could as a police officer, firefighter, a member of Kiwanis and through my writings on police ideology, police ethics and defensive handgun use for police. Now, I need help. 

I became an Ohio certified police officer in 1971 for Woodlawn, OH P.D. (graduating at the top of the Norwood Ohio Police Academy, class of Spring 1972). I was kept on probation for two years because the Lieutenant (Jim Webster) was an anti-Semite. After two years of bating me while trying to find something I did wrong, he finally wrote a letter to Chief Tom Trainer saying he would not recommend my tenure, writing: “Klein would be better off with his own kind of people.” The Chief then refused to remove me from probation thus terminating my employment with Woodlawn. I was never accused, much less charged, with any wrong doing. The only persons I’m aware of who saw this letter are me, the Chief, the Lt. and Tom McDaniel. Trainer and Webster are both deceased. McDaniel, a retired police chief, can verify the matter. McDaniel was Acting Police Chief while Chief Tom Trainer was on sick leave and discovered the letter in my personnel file. He showed it to me. 

SELECTED INTENTIONAL ACTS OF HARRASSMENT:
1) My first day at work, I was leaning against a desk in the squad room when the Lt. came in saying in a loud voice, "Get off my desk."
2) While on a meal break with the Lt. and Ptlmn. Bill Fidelitity, a patron of the restaurant approached us. The Lt. was very discourteous to this person and then told me that when I’m on my code 7, I don’t have to be friendly or even acknowledge others in the restaurant.
3) During an alarm drop inspection of the Craven home (vacant while Craven was in prison) with the Lt. and Ptlmn Fidelitity, I picked up a shadow box for a 1911A1 pistol from the floor exclaiming that I had a gun that would fit nicely in the box. Both told me to take the box, the owner will never miss it. I didn’t.
4) When a burglar was found in a local business, the Lt. told me to wait outside while he and Sgt. John Williams went in to investigate. I was later told by Sgt. Williams that the reason the Lt. didn’t want me with them was in case there was an “accident” (the perp was shot) – that the Lt. didn’t trust that I would lie about the “accident”. This distrust came from the fact that I was the only/first WPD officer to report Sgt. Pete Roger was a thief (he later went to prison). The Lt. and Ptlmn Fidelitity didn’t believe any officer should “rat-out” another officer.
5) When a search warrant was going to be served on a known armed drug dealer’s home, he instructed the OIC to have me placed far way in case there were any “accidents”.
6) While on patrol with the Lt. during my early months, he mentioned many times how he believed black were inferior to whites – trying to get me to agree.
7) When working the day shift with the Lt. he would send me out to run radar in locations where
a) writing speeding tickets would be easy (25MPH zones on open areas) hoping I would issue enough tickets that would generate complaints.
b) areas adjacent to the all black community of Lincoln Heights hoping I would generate complaints from blacks.
Though I wrote a lot of tickets, there were never any complaints filed against me.
8) Working 3rd shift with the Lt. he would put me in the unmarked squad car and have me stakeout a business he believed was going to be burglarized – because he didn’t want to be around me.
9) Upon Wendel Thompson’s appointment to Woodlawn, the Lt. told him that I hated blacks and that I had sought to file suit via the ACLU to have his appointment superseded by a white candidate. Of course, none of this was true. I only learned of this when, many years later, Wendel told me – apologizing for the way he treated me when we both worked for Woodlawn. .

To say the Lt. was prejudiced against me - a Jew – would be an understatement inasmuch as he rode me very hard trying to get me to commit wrongs that could be used against me (See SideBar). After two years as a Woodlawn police officer, he could not find anything to fault me for – except that I was Jewish. The Lt. also hated blacks, but since the Village of Woodlawn – his employer – was mostly black, he didn’t go after the black officers. Though I can’t prove this, he is attributed to saying: “I might have to work with N***ers, but I’ll be damned if I have to also work with Jews.” Chief Trainer never gave me a copy of the letter nor did he, to my knowledge, show it to, then Mayor, Jim Keels.

Chief Trainer and Lt. Webster are deceased. Tom McDaniel went on to become a detective with Blue Ash, OH P.D. and then retire as Chief of Police for Harrison, OH, finally retiring again from Great American Insurance Company where he was the head of Internal Security. The only other living (as I am aware) persons who might have knowledge to his treatment of me are Randall Rozier, Truman Whitaker, Bill Fidelidey (sp?) and Wendell Thompson. Thompson was used by the Lt. and Bill Fidelidey to harass me. Years later, Thompson apologized to me saying he was hard on me because Webster had told him I was a racist and I had filed a complaint with the ACLU to keep blacks from being hired (I never filed any complaint of any kind with the ACLU). 

To clear my name, I sought employment with other departments. Terrace Park, OH P.D. offered me a job if I could pass a polygraph test administered by the Cincinnati P.D. I was immediately hired after successfully completing CPD’s standard polygraph test. I resigned from TPPD after six months due to not making enough money for my family of four to live on.

Though I haven’t carried a public badge since the 1980s (Switzerland County, IN S.O.), I have always been active in law enforcement via published articles, columns and books, including INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police – a concept I pioneered in a feature article for Law & Order Magazine (1970). The book, currently in its 4th edition, has been in continuous print for over 35 years. All other information about me and my writings is on my website: ChuckKlein.com

Recently, I asked the Village of Woodlawn, OH, to do the right thing by reinstating me retroactive to my date of termination after which I would instantly resign/retire – as an Ohio Police Officer. I assured them I have no ulterior motives nor am I seeking any monetary claims whatsoever. I just want them to right a wrong. Their answer was that I would have to be an OPOTC certified LEO in order for them to re-appoint me even for just a few seconds. In addition, when pressed further as to why the Village is resisting my request, Village Manager, Jerry Thamann, replied in an email: "because they don't know me." In other words, are they saying they only appoint persons they personally know?

 I know what you’re thinking: What skeletons does Klein have in his closet. I’m no choir boy, and even though I’ve lived 77 years, and spent 20 as a licensed private investigator, there is nothing in my personal history that would preclude me from being a police officer - today! I’ll gladly tender my SSN and any other information needed for a background check.

 I requested OPOTC to use their discretionary power to grant a special allowance to permit Woodlawn to reinstate me long enough to tender my registration.

The relevant ORC sections pertaining to police certification:

109:2-1-12 Certification before service and re-entry requirements.

(B)(4) Credit for equivalent training may also be given under this rule for experience when the applicant can, through a means that the executive director has approved in advance, demonstrate to the executive director a level of proficiency that is equivalent to the proficiency required to complete one or more portions of the basic training course.

(D)(3) All persons who have previously been appointed as a peace officer and have been awarded a certificate of completion of basic training by the executive director or those peace officers described in paragraph (A)(3) of this rule who have not been appointed as either a peace officer or a trooper for more than four years shall, upon reappointment as a peace officer, complete the basic training course prior to performing the functions of a peace officer.”

(H) The executive director may extend the time for completion of the training requirements based upon written application from the appointing authority of the individual. Such application will contain an explanation of the circumstances which create the need for the extension. Factors which may be considered in granting or denying the extension include, but are not limited to, serious illness of the individual or an immediate family member, the absence of a reasonably accessible training course, or an unexpected shortage of manpower within the employing agency. Based on the circumstances in a given case, the executive director may modify the completion date for any training assigned. An extension shall generally be for ninety days, but in no event may the executive director grant an extension beyond one hundred eighty days.

Clearly the statutes are saying the ED has the power to extend the COMPLETION DATE for any ASSIGNED TRAINING. Therefore, if the ED “assigns” to me a training of, say, write and submit to OPOTC a paper on a police subject.

OPOTC's 1st response to my request was to cite Sections (B) and (H) saying the only way I can be re-certified is to complete the basic training academy course. They ignored my suggestion to utilize their discretionary powers to do the right thing. I’m 77-years old and would not be able to complete the police academy rigors. Copies of the email exchanges from: Brittany D. Brashears and Richard Hardy are available upon request.

I then pointed out the "powers of assignment and equivalent training" and suggested to the Executive Director that in compliance with Sections H, D and B, I submit the ASSIGNED paper, OPOTC re-certifies me for (1) one minute within a certain time frame while Woodlawn re-appoints me for this one (1) minute. In other words, after submission of my assignment, the ED issues a completion date, for example, of 11:00am ___(date) and Woodlawn appoints me at 10:59am ____(date), and I resign/retire immediately thereafter all is solved. I'm still waiting for a response.

Inasmuch as there has been a significant increase in anti-Semitism and I am a former Ohio Certified Jewish LEO who has continued giving back to the law enforcement community through books, teaching and writings; righting this – almost 50-year wrong - would cost nothing and surely generate positive press for OPOTA and Ohio, per se, and be the right thing to do. This entire matter has nothing to do with allowing me police powers - ONLY about righting a wrong - a discrimination against me just because I was a Jew when such discrimination was acceptable by police agencies.

As of this updated writing (20 Jan 2020), Senator Terry Johnson's office has declared the OPOTC ruling by a bureacrat is final. By refusing to take this directly to the bureacrat's boss, the Ohio Attorney General (an elected official), and refusing to consider sending a letter acknowledging the anti-Semitism I was subjected to as a Woodlawn LEO or introduce legislation to allow special dispensation to re-certify me for the single purpose of righting a wrong, is he signifying his position as anti-Semitic? 
 
Charles (Chuck) H. Klein, Jr., IALEFI Active Member since 1999
6500 Hillman Ridge Road
Georgetown, OH 45121

THE BADGE