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Buckeye Lake officer on unpaid leave

BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Police Officer James Petrey is on unpaid leave following an arrest in New Albany for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Petrey also faces criminal charges from the New Albany Police Department for inducing panic and weapons under disability, or displaying a weapon while intoxicated.

Buckeye Lake Police Captain James Hanzey presented a lengthy report to Mayor Rick Baker, explaining how he learned of the charges against Petrey and a series of events that followed.

According to Hanzey’s report, Hanzey received a phone call at home the evening of Jan. 12 stating that the New Albany Police department was looking for a Buckeye Lake officer named Jim.

“This not being me, I called the New Albany Police Department and found the officer they were looking for was Officer James Petrey,” said Hanzey in the report. He said the New Albany dispatcher told him that Petrey had an argument with his girlfriend while sitting in a Tim Horton’s parking lot near the I-70 Brice Road exit. The dispatcher said Petrey had been drinking and placed a gun toward his head. However, Hanzey called Petrey, who said he disagreed with the dispatcher’s assessment. Hanzey told Petrey to meet him at the Buckeye Lake office, and Petrey said he was on his way. Hanzey asked Chief Ron Small to join the meeting.

“While at the office, I received a phone call from Sgt. Anderson of the New Albany Department, who stated that he had removed two firearms from the trunk of Officer Petrey’s vehicle and that he had taken control of the weapons,” said Hanzey in his report. Anderson said the weapons were a Glock .45 caliber gun and a Government Issue .45 caliber gun, which Buckeye Lake Village owns. Hanzey told Anderson he and Small were headed there to take control of the Government Issue gun. While en route, the Licking County Sheriff’s Department informed them that Petrey was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and transported to the New Albany Police Department.

Hanzey and Small met with Petrey at the New Albany department where Petrey said he drank a couple of beers, but his breath tested below the legal limit and the patrolman who stopped him did not follow all procedures the law requires.

Anderson told Petrey his driving privileges would not be revoked at that time, but he would move forward with an OVI citation. Anderson then told Small he would move forward with the inducing panic and weapons under disability charges.

Baker gave formal notification that Petrey was on unpaid leave pending an internal investigation and criminal charges being brought against him by the New Albany Police Department. Petrey told Hanzey that he believed Anderson held a personal grudge against him.

Hanzey said he interviewed Petrey’s girlfriend, who said they were having an argument and when she entered his car she said he had a beer in his hand and a gun in his lap. She said Petrey eventually told her to leave the vehicle, but as she did, he brought the gun to the side of his head, but couldn’t say he placed the gun to his head, nor did she hear him say anything out committing suicide. According to the report, “the only reason she called 911 was to get Officer Petrey help at that point.” She said Petrey had never hurt her and she didn’t believe he would hurt himself.

“We’ve done all we can do for now,” said Small Tuesday. He said there are procedures to be followed in this type of situation and the department is following them.

Petrey was to have a hearing regarding the driving under the influence charge Thursday morning.

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