Officer keeps his job despite alleged break-in
Jun 2, 2014 at 6:22 PM
An embattled Vermilion police officer kept his job, even after commanders suspended him for allegedly entering an unauthorized area and then being dishonest about it during an ensuing investigation.
Vermilion officials initially pursued firing Patrolman Dale Reising but dropped their grievance a week ago, most likely because his bosses didn’t want to fight an uphill battle.
Officials didn’t release their conclusion to the media until Tuesday, despite the Register asking for an update earlier this month.
“We were looking at $100,000 in attorney fees and a high probability that he would have gotten his job back with back pay,” Vermilion police Chief Chris Hartung said.
In exchange, however, Reising must:
•Sign a last-chance agreement, a document permitting him one more shot to shape up or get shipped out.
•Agree police commanders or city officials can fire him for any other similar misconduct he commits.
•Accept an unpaid suspension lasting 160 hours, losing out on about $3,700.
•Attend at his cost several training courses revolving around ethics.
•Acknowledge his conduct “was inconsistent with the standards of a sworn officer” at no less than one official Vermilion police meeting.
Past incidents involving law enforcers nationwide getting terminated but later coming back to work after lengthy, costly court battles in similar situations to Reising’s case made Vermilion officials reluctant to fire him.
“We spent a lot of time researching this case, and I believe that this was an internal issue and the best recourse for this case,” Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan said.
Reising, suspended since early April, should return sometime in June. During this ongoing period, Reising stands to obtain about $4,200 while on paid leave, according to city financial data.
Reising has worked as a full-time officer in Vermilion for about four years.
An internal investigation, obtained by the Register through a public records request, sheds light into two alleged acts of misconduct Reising committed:
•Entering a police administrator’s locked office.
•Showing signs of dishonesty when interviewed about his actions.
On Feb. 10, Vermilion police Capt. Mike Reinheimer noticed ceiling tile debris on a cabinet in his office. The investigation indicates a supervisor assigned Reising to a cruiser with the keys locked in Reinheimer’s office over the Feb. 8-9 weekend.
Reising originally told Reinheimer he never entered Reinheimer’s office during initial questioning.
But the patroller did claim he went to Ace Hardware, where employees later helped Reinheimer pinpoint the sale of a key to the morning of Feb. 9 — right in the middle of Reising’s shift and just a day before Reinheimer realized someone entered his office, according to the report.
A hardware store employee said Reising had entered the store in full uniform on that day, according to the report.
Reinheimer then interviewed Reising a second time, pointing out the apparent inconsistencies between his previous statements and what Reinheimer learned during the investigation.
Reising again stuck to his story: He made a copy of the key while he was off duty and never broke into the office.
When Reinheimer confronted Reising again about the inaccuracies, Reising asked for his union representative, but he then admitted to the theft, according to the report.
Commanders determined Reising had violated two department rules regarding the incident: He allegedly gained unauthorized entry to a restricted area, and he allegedly provided false information during a disciplinary investigation.
While entering unauthorized areas usually warrants a written reprimand, showing signs of dishonesty generally calls for dismissal, police documents stated.
Reinheimer ended his report with this: “My recommendation for this infraction would be dismissal from his position as a patrolman for the Vermilion Police Department”