2009-09-12 / Editorials & Letters

'Watchdog' checking out new officers

Editor:

Kirkersville Village Council most recently met on Sept. 2. Carolyn Woods gave the finance report stating that she was the finance chair since she took Erika Mudd's place on council. Woods reported that the finance committee has given authority to the Village Clerk to pay the bills as long as they don't go over an 'unusual amount.' The Flying J credit card can be paid up to $475 without the clerk questioning the bill. Council member Debi Seymour questioned this authorization and reminded members of past issues. Woods said she wasn't the finance chair in the past and this is how she is doing it now. Seymour asked that finance members stay on top of the bills and make sure there are no discrepancies.

As the safety chair, Seymour asked that council have a special meeting to talk about hiring Chief Mark Bossa as the permanent chief of police. She was concerned that council members may not have had enough time to review concerns about Bossa. Bossa is on his probationary period until Sept. 12. But council chose not to wait and, instead, placed an executive session on the agenda to discuss personnel issues. After that executive session, Mayor Ashcraft recommended keeping Mark Bossa as the chief of police and five of the six council members affirmed that recommendation. Seymour was the lone vote against keeping him.

Some of those concerns were that Bossa had hired an auxiliary officer, Steve Mowrey, who is involved in a pending lawsuit in New Albany. Mowery is accused of assaulting a juvenile after picking him up on a curfew violation. The juvenile and his parents are suing the Village of New Albany for $5 million! Those details were hidden from the Kirkersville officials by Bossa. Mowrey has since resigned.

Mark Bossa had been at several police departments including Shawnee Hills, Frazeysburg, and Somerset. But he failed to put his history at Somerset on his application to Kirkersville.

A training certificate in Bossa's file claims that he received 40 hours of training at the "Shawnee Hills Training Academy." The certificate is signed by Dana Russell (former Shawnee Hills officer and now a current Kirkersville officer) as the instructor and again by Dana Russell as the Co-ordinator. In speaking with the current Shawnee Hills Police Chief, he says he is not aware of there ever being a Shawnee Hills Police Academy.

Also in question are some Kirkersville log sheets prepared by Bossa. Some are inconsistent with time cards; some log sheets are missing; and some log sheets note missing time.

A public records request at Shawnee Hills shows that Bossa authorized adding a vehicle owned by Dana Russell to the small Delaware County village's insurance policy. Shawnee Hills is about the size of Kirkersville, both in physical size and population.

In fact, the Village of Shawnee Hills had been paying insurance, FOR YEARS, on Bossa's personal vehicle(s) without the knowledge of the current administration. The records show that Bossa accepted a vehicle "at no cost to the village other then the cost of insurance" claiming that it was a requirement for Dana Russell (former Shawnee Hills officer; current Kirkersville officer brought in by Bossa) to "full fill the position of Police Canine Handler." Only the village council has the authority to make changes to insurance policies. But personal vehicles cannot be on village insurance policies and these vehicles were not the official property of Shawnee Hills.

While Bossa was in Shawnee Hills, he was charged with Failure to Control (2004) after a car accident when he was Chief of Police at the time. The accident report from Columbus Division of Police states that the vehicle "drove off the right side of the roadway, crossed a culvert and slid sideways until striking 3-4 trees and unit 1 (a parked vehicle). According to a witness who heard the crash, "a male white driver exited (the vehicle that crashed) through the smashed out window. He then hurried - went through the condos toward Barkwood Drive …. stopped and threw something into a nearby drain. Listed address for owner (of the vehicle that crashed) is a municipal building in Shawnee Hills and not a residence." The Columbus Police officer's report also states that alcohol is suspected.

A paper (with attachments) that was passed out in Shawnee Hills titled, "Do you know the facts?" indicates that Bossa was fired by the mayor (2004). In lieu of suing Shawnee Hills for wrongful termination (the mayor can't fire a police chief - it must be done by council), Bossa agreed not to sue them and they didn't press forward with the 12 administrative charges they were going to file against him.

A form sent to OPOTA (Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy) dated 11-30-04 says that Bossa was discharged. However, records at OPOTA (say, "Resigned 06-08-07. Spoke with Chief Colburn, is sending a correction to record for the termination notice. As part of the settlement agreement, Bossa resigned."

According to public records from Gahanna, Dana Russell altered a military document while employed by Gahanna Police so that he could get paid for voluntary duty. The statement in his personnel file says, "Dana admitted he covered block #17, remarks, so as not to confuse us. When I (Gahanna Police Chief) advised him I felt he was trying to deceive us because he did not want us to see where he was going, he said he was sorry I felt that way. Dana also said he felt now that he should not have altered the document." Russell may have gotten away with this if he hadn't left the original document in the copy machine of the Gahanna Police!

I will have more for you next week! Bonnie Mansfield Buckeye Lake

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