Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Springdale police captain suspended for inadequately training security officers


SPRINGDALE AR May 24 2017 -- A longtime police captain was suspended without pay for a week after an investigation showed three part-time security officers weren't fully trained before starting duties, according to a Police Department investigation.
Capt. Ron Hritz violated city policy and was suspended, in part, for misconduct and incompetency, according to information released under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. Hritz has been a Springdale officer for about 24 years, reports show.
"All three part-time officers have been working as armed personnel for the [Springdale Police Department] in the court security, building security and handling of prisoners during assigned community service," according to the investigation. "At the time, they were assigned their armed duties, none of the officers appeared to have been trained in defensive tactics, baton training, handcuffing techniques or handgun retention training."
Hritz has overseen the criminal investigation division since Feb. 6. He was the commander of the administrative division and oversaw the Communications Center, jail and the school resource officer program in 2016. The officers, whose names are redacted in reports, were hired as building security officers in 2016.
Hritz didn't answer emailed requests for comment Monday afternoon.
The officers were responsible for working in the jail, transporting inmates, assisting at the district court and getting community service jobs set up, according to the report.
The officers have since been trained through the Washington County Sheriff's Office, said Lt. Jeff Taylor, police spokesman.
District Court Judge Jeff Harper said through a secretary Monday he wouldn't comment.
The officers told investigators Hritz held the needed course last year, but didn't finish filing the paperwork required to certify the course or show officers had taken the course, records show. Officers said the course was mostly self-taught. When one officer was asked who taught the class, the officer said: "No one, sir," according to the report.
The officers and Hritz all said the officers didn't get any defensive tactics or weapon retention training, which are required as part of the course, the report shows.
Training is important to teach law enforcement officers to do their jobs safely and effectively, Sgt. John Wood, who is over training at the Washington County Sheriff's Office, said Monday. Wood said he couldn't comment specifically on Springdale's training.
An official with the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training told a police investigator no records of the required course taught by Hritz last year exist, according to the investigation report. No one returned a message left with the Little Rock office Monday afternoon.
Hritz blamed two officers when police discovered the paperwork hadn't been filed with the state, according to the report. Hritz said he didn't know what two of the required forms were or how to submit them. An investigator noted Hritz had access to the forms and information on how to submit them.
The lack of training came to light in February, when the District Court bailiff asked about having building security officers help serve warrants, the investigation shows. The department began researching the officers' training and found "the officers did not appear to have any training records on file" with the state.
Taylor said Monday he didn't know when the officers started duties or when they were trained by the county. He referred questions to Chief Mike Peters, who didn't reply to emailed questionsm Monday. A secretary at the Police Department said Peters was out of the office Monday afternoon.
Hritz was suspended March 28 with pay during the investigation, according to a department letter. He was suspended without pay from April 28 to May 5, documents show.
Hritz wasn't demoted or given any other reprimand, Taylor said.
The investigation's summary was turned over to Peters, who determined what actions to take, Taylor said. Peters didnt respond to a question asking whether Hritz has been previously reprimanded.

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