Two Warsaw cops suspended for making copy of video involving chief
WARSAW, Ind. -- This morning, the Warsaw Police Department requested and received suspensions for two officers responsible for bringing to light video of an incident involving Chief Scott Whitaker. Officers Ross Minear and Jason Dobbins are both serving 10 day, unpaid suspensions for essentially making bootleg copies of bodycam video, then allegedly lying about it.
The bodycam video is from a January 25th incident involving Chief Whitaker. Whitaker was off-duty when he confronted an elderly man who was suspected of drunk driving. It turns out, the man he confronted wasn't drinking and wasn't even behind the wheel. In the video, the chief can be heard cursing at the elderly man's wife. Whitaker received no punishment.
“I’d like to make a public apology to the gentleman I detained that evening.” Whitaker said in a press conference on February, 23rd.
Friday morning, Deputy Chief Bryan Sherwin presented findings of an internal investigation and his recommendation for suspensions to members of the Board of Public Works. The board voted to accept the recommendation. Mayor Joe Thallemer abstained because of his involvement in the investigation. Chief Whitaker was not part of the investigation and provided a letter of recusal dated February, 13th.
According to Deputy Chief Sherwin, Officer Minear first made a copy of the video using his cell phone on February, 1st. He later burned a copy onto a DVD. He provided that video to Officer Dobbins, who is also accused of later recording the footage on his personal cell phone. Dobbins is accused of contacting a councilmember, to whom he also provided the video.
Sherwin also claims both officers initially lied about the events when they were first questioned.
Sherwin says the officers broke several police procedures by making copies of the video and skirting the chain of command.
However, Chief Whitaker also appears to have violated protocols by using profanity as heard in the bodycam footage. The chief did not face any punishment. According to the Warsaw City Attorney, punishment levied against the chief would have to come down from the mayor. Mayor Thallemer has already said he doesn't believe the chief did anything wrong.
Both officers have the opportunity to appeal their suspensions. The appeals must be made within 5 days.