FIRED STRONGSVILLE PATROLMAN FILES LAWSUIT

The Plain Dealer
Cleveland, OH
Mar 11, 1999

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Authors: JANET H. CHO PLAIN DEALER REPORTER
Pagination: 2B
Dateline: STRONGSVILLE

Abstract:

Jason Maier was so thrilled about becoming a Strongsville Police Department patrolman, he had a copy of his badge tattooed on his left shoulder.

The Strongsville Police Department fired Maier after what he claims was a deliberate campaign to "sabotage" his career and smear his reputation.

Police Chief Charles W. Goss said Maier was let go after it became clear he had difficulty handling confrontations and interacting with the public.

(Copyright (c) The Plain Dealer 1999)

Full Text:

Jason Maier was so thrilled about becoming a Strongsville Police Department patrolman, he had a copy of his badge tattooed on his left shoulder.

The three-inch blue and green shield, which reads "to protect and serve," now serves as a painful reminder of the law enforcement officer he could have been.

Less than two years after graduating from police academy, Maier was terminated.

The Strongsville Police Department fired Maier after what he claims was a deliberate campaign to "sabotage" his career and smear his reputation.

Police Chief Charles W. Goss said Maier was let go after it became clear he had difficulty handling confrontations and interacting with the public.

Maier said he was falsely accused and deliberately targeted. He has filed suit against the city and two former supervisors, Lt. James Spickler and Sgt. Frank Nosal.

He is seeking $850,000 plus attorneys' fees as compensation for lost wages, "public humiliation and embarrassment" and "extreme emotional distress."

"I just want to clear the record and hopefully change some things for the people in that department," said Maier, 26. "I didn't do anything I was accused of."

Goss wrote a four-page memo urging Mayor Walter F. Ehrnfelt to dismiss Maier, citing nine citizen complaints and several other incidents. Maier was dismissed Nov. 20.

"The essence of our job is to be a peacekeeper and have the ability to resolve conflict. And in this particular individual, there was an established pattern of instances that were related to mistakes in judgment and an inability to resolve conflict," Goss said. He declined to elaborate because of the suit.

After Maier's first year with the department, his supervisors decided to extend his probation another year. Despite counseling, warnings and additional training, "it was just overwhelming that this guy just wasn't catching on," Spickler said.

Maier's 13-page lawsuit, filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, accuses the city of wrongfully firing him, "outrageous conduct" that caused him emotional distress, failing to discipline his superiors, and slandering his reputation.

"I was placed under investigation for things I did not do, and it all culminated in my termination," he said.

Strongsville Patrolman Jeffrey Stewart, a 10-year veteran who worked the night shift with Maier, said: "Jason's biggest problem when he started work was that he was improperly trained. He spent nine of his 13 weeks with the field training officer at the mall, because that's where he was assigned. ... The last four or five months that he worked, he was coming along real well."

Maier said he mailed about 20 copies of the lawsuit to the media, City Council members, other police officers and Goss' and Spick- ler's neighbors.

Spickler said, "If anything, the lawsuit proves that we did the right thing. We saved the public from this guy."

Maier, who is married and has a 22-month-old son, has been unemployed since his dismissal. He said he was looking for a new job - "anything but law enforcement."

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