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Perkins officers investigated following Thanksgiving incident

Emil Whitis • Nov 28, 2012 at 4:55 PM

While she is the only officer on paid administrative leave, at least two others may ultimately be sucked into an internal investigation by police Chief Ken Klamar.

Under advice from township attorney John Coppeler, Klamar has refused to identify the other two officers involved.  

Township trustees met with Klamar late Tuesday in executive session to discuss the possibility of discipline against the officers.

Barker was off-duty at The Pump Bar and Grille on Hayes Avenue on Thanksgiving Eve, although she was scheduled to show up for an overtime shift at 3 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, police have said.  

Also at The Pump that night was an off-duty Perkins officer, who Klamar refused to identify.

That officer called an on-duty Perkins officer to the bar for unknown reasons. Klamar also refused to identify the on-duty officer.

The off-duty officer told the on-duty officer that Barker was inside the bar and she had been drinking, Klamar said. Her personal vehicle was also parked outside the bar.   

Sometime before 3 a.m., Barker called in to work and said she couldn't make it to her 3 a.m. shift because she was intoxicated. Her regular shift was scheduled to start at 7 a.m., police said.  

Klamar said he knows how Barker got from the bar to her Fox Road home in Huron Township, but he refused to provide any details on the matter, deferring to Coppeler's legal advice.

A Perkins police report from 2:11 a.m. Thanksgiving Day raises further questions.

An employee at Taco Bell on West Perkins Avenue called Perkins police and said a woman driver had passed out in a vehicle waiting in the line at the drive-through. The woman was driving a silver Toyota that matched the description of Barker's car, police said.  

Perkins police Lt. Vince Donald, Officer Tim Alexander and Sgt. Mark Kusser responded to the area but found nothing, according to Donald's incident report.

During the course of his internal investigation, Klamar checked for surveillance video at Taco Bell, but the restaurant didn’t have any video.

But Barker managed to get home somehow.     

When asked if any of his officers may have pulled over Barker's vehicle in the vicinity of West Perkins Avenue, Klamar refused to say.

When asked if any of his officers provided Barker a ride home Thanksgiving morning, Klamar also refused to say.

Klamar said that if one of his officers provided a ride to someone and the officer did not document it as such, it would be a violation of department policy.   

For now, it's simply a mystery how Barker made it home.

Later Thanksgiving morning — acting on a tip from one of his employees — Klamar intercepted Barker at her home, as she walked out in full uniform, including a handgun strapped to her belt.

He noticed she appeared "unsteady on her feet ... and her eyes were glassy and she appeared lethargic," an Erie County deputy's report said.

Klamar also smelled alcohol on Barker, so he took her to Firelands Regional Medical Center, where her blood-alcohol content registered at 0.139 percent. A second test put it at 0.127 percent, Erie County deputies said.  

Those test results came at least four hours after Barker had first called off work. The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08 percent.

While Klamar moves forward with his internal investigation, he also asked the Erie County Sheriff's Office to conduct a criminal investigation.

On Tuesday, deputies asked Huron city prosecutor Laura Alkire to consider charges against Barker, for allegedly possessing a weapon at her home while she was intoxicated.

Alkire told deputies she will not press charges because Perkins police had no jurisdiction in Huron Township, where Barker lives.

"There are outstanding jurisdictional and evidentiary issues that would affect the prosecution of this case," Alkire said.

Basically, if Perkins police had called Erie County deputies and asked them to  go to Barker's home Thanksgiving morning, the prosecutor's office could have pursued the case, Alkire told deputies.   

When asked to provide additional information in the case, Coppeler said he doesn't know what the facts are just yet.

"Why don't you wait until all the facts are assembled to discuss this," Coppeler said. "There's no reason to try to influence decisions at this point."

Barker's personnel file shows that in the past 14 months, she missed four training sessions or off-duty details. She was hired in 2005 as a Perkins dispatcher, and in 2006 she became a reserve officer, followed by a 2009 promotion to full-time officer.

A performance review in 2010 indicated "there have been times in the past 11 months where Officer Barker has been combative with supervisors."

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