Four Cleveland Police Officers Fired for Boozing on the Job

click to enlarge SAM ALLARD / SCENE
Sam Allard / Scene
Late last week, four Cleveland police officers were fired after an internal investigation confirmed that they'd been drinking on the job and had falsified their daily duty logs to conceal their conduct. Under a 2018 general police order on discipline, as mandated by the Consent Decree, falsifying reports carries a presumption of termination. 

Officers Matthew Dates, John Jarrell, Kevin Kiesner and Anthony Miranda were all officially terminated on June 18. Signing off on the letters was one of Michael McGrath's final acts as Safety Director. Cleveland Police's internal affairs unit had investigated the allegations and hearings were held on May 6.

All four officers, who had been basic patrol officers in the 4th District (the city's southeast side), have been on restricted duty since October. Surveillance footage captured them drinking in uniform at the 49th Street Tavern in Cuyahoga Heights on Sept. 27, 2019. All four were on duty at the time and were being served drinks free of charge, according to termination letters signed by McGrath.

The letters noted that all four officers, after drinking there, left on a service call — two of the four presumably were operating their vehicles under the influence, though that's unmentioned in the letters — and returned to the tavern to drink more afterwards, still while on duty and in uniform. The officers then falsified their logs.

The officers were found to have "diminished the esteem" of the division of police and had compromised their ability to testify in court. Much of this behavior falls under the "gross neglect of duty" umbrella. The most senior of the officers, John Jarrell, was at the time serving as field training officer for 27-year-old Matthew Dates, who was still in his probationary period.

 "You failed to act as a role model, coach or mentor for your probationary officer," McGrath's letter to Jarrell read. Jarrell had also previously been suspended for an off-duty OVI. 

Cleveland.com has reported that, according to the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, all four will appeal their terminations. CPPA President Jeff Folmer said that the officers knew what they did was wrong and had "accepted responsibility."

The incident in question occurred months before the current unrest over police brutality and racial injustice, but officers operating under the influence of alcohol on a regular basis spells disaster for community-police relations.

Boozing on the job, while technically restricted now, was known to be common practice on the force for decades. In 1968, two of the three officers who were killed in the Glenville Riots were discovered to have blood alcohol levels "consistent with the recent consumption of eight to 10 shots of whiskey or a similar number of beers." But as Roldo Bartimole reported for The Nation in 1969, the fact that the officers were drunk was not included in their official autopsies. 

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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