Stall in officer probe costing taxpayers

Shame on the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for taking so long investigating a troubled Warren police officer, and shame on city officials for not pushing for a more expedited investigation.

Justice delayed is justice denied. In this case, the greatest injustice may be against Warren taxpayers, who have paid approximately $44,000 for an officer who, essentially, has had a seven-month-long-and-counting vacation.

Warren police Chief Eric Merkel informed patrolman Reuben Shaw in July that he would remain on paid leave pending the outcome of ”any criminal and / or administrative investigations regarding the towing of a motor vehicle from private property.”

Merkel asked the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the investigative arm of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, to look into the matter because he was concerned that the incident was a ”potentially criminal matter.”

Shaw has remained on paid administrative leave since.

If Shaw is innocent, then he and his family have had to endure an incredibly long period of public humiliation and personal anxiety, uncertain of their financial and household future.

Whether innocent or guilty, Warren’s taxpayers have been saddled with paying, so far, about $31,000 in salary, $7,500 in pension contributions, $3,500 in accumulated vacation time and $1,764 in accumulated sick time. That’s almost $44,000.

BCI has not commented, but the stall in the Shaw investigation coincides with BCI’s investigation into a shooting death involving another Warren police officer. It’s understandable that the shooting investigation would be intensive and time-consuming, which is why BCI should have, if necessary, temporarily assigned another agent to Trumbull County.

Warren officials, who are ultimately responsible for the taxpayers’ dollars paid to Shaw, should have clamored – loudly and publicly – for additional, temporary BCI resources. We remember Attorney General Mike DeWine, during his election campaign, vowing to reduce investigative time.

When BCI handed the shooting investigation to Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, the Shaw probe appeared to gain steam. BCI said the Shaw case was ”nearing completion.” That was three weeks ago.

We don’t want BCI to compromise any investigation in the name of haste. But for Warren taxpayers, and for the Shaw family, justice delayed is justice denied.