Sandusky officer misidentifies political candidate in incident report, again

A Sandusky police officer mistakenly placed a sheriff's captain at the scene of an altercation last month and then later called the captain's character into question, Erie County Sheriff's officials said.
Emil Whitis
Nov 23, 2011

A Sandusky police officer mistakenly placed a sheriff’s captain at the scene of an altercation last month and then later called the captain’s character into question, Erie County Sheriff’s officials said.

It’s the second time in as many years that Officer Eric Costante mistakenly placed a political candidate at the scene of an incident involving police.

But misidentification wasn’t the only error that got Costante in trouble with his boss.

Police Chief Jim Lang verbally reprimanded Costante for later altering the Oct. 24 incident report that misidentified Capt. Paul Sigsworth as the deputy who witnessed an argument outside the county courthouse.

“We told him not to do it again,” Lang said. “There was no formal discipline.”

More troubling to sheriff’s officials, however, are the comments Costante allegedly made to a roomful of law enforcement officers during a Fraternal Order of Police meeting Nov. 1.

Multiple law enforcement officials said they learned Costante told officers at the meeting that Sigsworth didn’t help him during the Oct. 24 incident.

Costante wouldn’t confirm or refute the truthfulness of the allegations.

“I’m not going to comment on that (meeting), period,” he said. “It’s a private meeting.”

Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons said Costante’s inaccurate report raises concerns.

“It calls Sigsworth’s character into question,” Lyons said. “That’s obvious.”

In the first version of his report, Costante stated he saw a person — Michael Brown, 43, of Sandusky — shouting obscenities in front of the courthouse.

“Standing at the front door I observed Capt. Sigsworth and a second subject walk inside the court,” the report stated.

Costante then confronted Brown and told him he’d be arrested if he didn’t stop shouting. Brown then left.

About two days prior to that incident, Sigsworth had announced his plans to run for the Erie County Sheriff’s seat.

After the FOP meeting, several attendees told him about Costante’s allegations, Lyons said.

“The perceived problem was that one of the deputies didn’t take the appropriate action to assist another agency,” Lyons said.

Said Sigsworth: “What was alleged was I turned my back on what was going on. At first I was upset with myself. When another cop needs help you don’t question, you don’t hesitate, you just go.”

But after racking his brain, Sigsworth said he couldn’t remember being outside the courthouse on Oct. 24.
Other deputies then confirmed: It was actually Deputy Joe Pfeiffer who had been at the courthouse that day.

Pfeiffer told Lyons he remembers the incident much differently than Costante — the officer and Brown appeared to be talking normally, so there was no reason to intervene.

Lang said he didn’t believe for a minute that Sigsworth would refuse to help someone.

“Anybody who knows Sigsworth knows that that doesn’t sound like him,” Lang said. “He’s always around to help.”

Lang said he called Costante to his office and told him his report was wrong.

“We found out it wasn’t Sigsworth,” Lang said. “So we told him to fix it.”

Rather than writing a second report to supplement the original — as department policy requires — Costante erased “Capt. Sigsworth” and typed over it, “a Sheriff Deputy.”

Lang then told Costante, a five-year veteran with Sandusky police, not to do that.

In 2009 Costante wrote an incident report that said officers arrested a cocaine dealer at Diedre Cole’s house.

At the time, Cole was poised to replace outgoing city commissioner Brett Fuqua.

A Register reporter saw the report and asked Cole about it, and she was outraged at the inaccuracy.

Police later admitted it was a mistake.

After that incident, Costante was ordered to take a refresher course on “basic investigative procedures.”

Then-police Chief Charlie Sams also assigned him to the detective’s division so he could learn from seasoned officers.

At the time, Cole said: “If that’s an example of our police department and their efforts, I’m terribly sorry, but we have some corrections that need to be made and made immediately.”

Costante said there was no ulterior motive for mistakenly mentioning Sigsworth in the Oct. 24 report.

“There’s no political motive,” Costante said. “I’m not losing my family and home for whatever personal gain would come of it.”

Comments

wiredmama222

This is NOT misidentification, it is out and out LYING.  If chief the chief is aware of it, let the consequences begin 

There are rules that apply and they should be inforced for the conduct.  This guy needs to GO. 

If he is willing to lie about this, then he could lie about other things.  Maybe it is time for a new broom to sweep clean. 

I, for one, am sick to death of incidences like this: cop after cop doing as they please.  They have rules to follow and they don't get suspeneded when putting on that badge. 

 In fact, they SHOULD be setting an example to follow and this isn't it.  Get rid of him. 

Darkhorse

Let's have a party  to introduce all the police officers in the area and future elected officials to this guy.  This incident should go in this cop's file for future reference  If the cop wasn't sure who the person was, he should have asked someone close by who the guy was or even go up and introduce yourself so you could get the name right in the record.  Maybe the guy needs some flash cards with the officer's pictures on them he can carry with him at all times. It is a funny coincidence that this could happen twice to the same person especially when he was warned before about mistakes on his reports.   

ReallyGood

I'm confused...so what exactly happened here??

44870 South

 The reason you are confused is because this isn't a story. Sounds like a mistake was made, then corrected. The End.

ReallyGood

Agreed, I don't see what the story is here. Or even what happened?? SR was in such a hurry to put a story in the paper. It appears thy put more effort into the suggestive heading than the article itself. Its very vague and all over the place. How people can comment that he needs to lose his job based on that article is clearly ignorant

Taxpayer

If there is no record in his file to show PREVIOUS conduct to LIE on official police reports, then Charlie Sams was WRONG to take care of his "buddy" in the FOP UNION.  If there is something in his file, then Jimmy Lang is WRONG and totally derelict in giving a bad apple a "verbal" warning for doing the exact same thing AGAIN!  How MANY chances does this officer get?  This is the typical, liberal premise of doing NOTHING about the conduct of officers who are SWORN to protect and serve.  Like I have posted before, it appears the FOP UNION feels the people are supposed to serve them!  "If you don't pass another LEVY to increase our salaries and benefits, if you complain about us, then do NOT bother calling us when you need help."  How is THAT for a UNION protection racket?  How many times have you read that on this blog?  HOW can such a small department be so riddled with CORRUPT officers?  So, you simply call this officer into the office and tell him, "Don't do it again," because management is afraid of the UNION?  How about that open defiance to policy in erasing Sigsworth's name and typing "Sheriff Deputy" over it?  "Duh, don't do that again."  I guess it is business as usual and the PEOPLE of the city deserve exactly what they vote and PAY for.  Hey, Diedre Cole, YOU have NO chance to make any "corrections" against the FOP UNION.  Get a life!  More typical, liberal, political, soapbox gibberish.  Our society is based on the credulity of LE personnel.  You need a police report for accidents, damage reports, theft reports, MURDER investigations, criminal convictions, social control of society, and we PAY for it!  If there is NO integrity, accuracy and HONESTY in our LE agencies, there is no hope and change we can believe in.  There is good and bad in everything and I understand the Register is biased against LE, but come on!  HOW many members of LE continue to provide cannon fodder for the Register?  Hey, you saps who PAY taxes for this great UNION service to the community, still believe you are getting your tax dollar's worth?  What is that false UNION premise again?  "A fair day's work for a fair day's pay?"  Ha! Ha!                    

44870 South

 They should limit the number of characters you can type on here. I stopped reading half way through Taxpayer's rant.

gene44870

It does not matter if he knew who was who , he needs to treat everyone as an equal and with the same respect he would want himself , Weather or not he knows them or not , or weather they are running for an open seat on the commission .

Alot of times they can be wrong and thats why we have a justice system , no matter what you may think about it , we have one .

The Officer in this case was warned once to follow the rules and he didnt , so something needs to be done to ensure the rules will be followed .I dont think think he should be fired , cause this is only his second strike and who knows maybe he learn something from this ,I say give him a repremand in his personal jacket and place him on probation and see if that will help him to do the job the way he is suppose to .

SitandSpin

Typical Sandumpy LE, lie, cheat, wizz off docks, falsify reports etc.....I feel sorry for the few good Sandumpy LE there are left, guys like this give them all a bad name !

cockynurse

 Oh my...it sounds to me like the officer made a mistake.  This isn't news and shouldn't be public.  I think it was handled appropriately-until it was put in the newspaper!  The officer made a mistake in a report...and?  He CORRECTED it.   He isn't the only officer who has made a mistake in a report and he wont be the last.  

 

Taxpayer:  

Do you realize how little SPD officers make?  I don't believe they are giving us "a fair day's work for a fair day's pay".  In fact, I think they should get paid MORE, A LOT MORE.  

 

I do not know what in the world is going on with all of the police bashing.   I do not know any officer from the SPD; however, I can tell you I am thankful for the work they do....MISTAKES and all.  

Blacktigress

I know Jim Lang very well, he is a good man whom I had dealings with at Hunter Motors. If Jim didn't fire this guy he had reason. Jim is 100% stable, fair and law abiding, if more cops where like him we would have a perfect force.

Capt Sigsworth is a fine outstanding man as well, though I've had less dealings with him; many in my community believe him to be fair and balanced.

So, on this account I would say this cop was treated as he should be treated, knowing Lang and I can't second guess his judgement knowing how proffessional he is.

 

Unabasho

The "he said; she said"
makes wonderful soap opera, but
shouldn't we just grow up?

nofufucat

I think most law enforcement officers do a great job.  However, when an officer's veracity is called into question,  one wonders  how many times the officer has "corrected" reports without doing  a supplemental report.  Would keep him as far away as possible from testifying in any court case because it's apparent his observational skills are somewhat questionable defense attorneys would LOVE him...................lol 

real talk

 When I was in the police academy, one instructor would tell us seemingly enless stories about dumb things cops had done. As a warning of what not to do. He would normally end the stories with "People normally don't become cops because they are smart"

DGMutley

The thing that stands out is Officer Costante's lack of admitting that he did anything wrong. 

Where is the apology to Captain Sigwworth?

What was the purpose of including the Deputy in the report?    
 

java

Sounds like he writes like he talks.  Ever iron that uniform Officer Costante?
 

jethro

So, let me get this straight, Officer Jaimie DeSalle was fired a year ago for lying, but, one of the "good ole boys" Costante gets a slap on the wrist.   Hmmmmm, makes no sense....Oh, wait a minute, DeSalle wasn't one of the "special" Officers who do whatever they want, and suffer no consequences!

jessie01

This is an all new low..... Even for the Sandusky Register.  He mentioned Capt. Sigsworth in his report because at the time, that is who he believed he saw.  It was brought to his attention, so he corrected it.  Now, the Register scribbles an article in attempt to ruin him personally and professionally.  It makes no sense!  People act like they've never been out in public and seen someone they think they know, only to find out it wasn't that person at all.  IT HAPPENS, FOLKS!

Officer Constante is not only a good cop but a good person and the Register should be ashamed for portraying him in such a way, as should the rest of you who are talking about how he should be fired.  Really??  I suppose you have never made a mistake, personally or professionally?  If so, were you fired for it?  Did the Register post your mistake in the paper for all to see and judge?  My guess is, probably not.  Get off your high horse people.  This is simply ridiculous.

By the way, if you want a crooked cop to write about, I could give you some names and some stories.  Unfortunately for those of you jumping to have him beheaded, Officer Constante is not one of them.

jethro

Never said he should be fired, never said he wasn't a good cop, it's just that there are double standards at the SPD. EVERY Police Officer should be treated the same and they ARE NOT! This is a perfect example.....One gets fired for lying because he isn't liked, another doesn't because he is liked.  Makes no sense!

sanduskysteve

This is to those of you who believe it simply made a mistake and the register is trying to ruin him.....

The register is reporting an incident which has created a common thread in this offier's past.  Yes, it could have been a mistake - this isn't the issue here - this is the second time this officer made the same "mistake" and it happened again after he was warned about the previous "mistake".

The issue is also, that one mistake lead to a second "mistake" for the same incident!!!

The SPD has policy - this policy is to be upheld by all officers - I'm sure there will be those who will argue this as well, but there isn't an argument really - every officer should be held to the same policy and the same rules and regulations.  This officer not only made a "mistake" on his report, but then while correcting the mistake, which by the way, he denied making at first, he violated SPD policy and regulations yet a second time in the method he used to correct his mistake.

The fact, that he corrected the mistake in a way which would "cover up" the mistake, speaks volumes about whether this was really a mistake at all.  Another lie.

You republicans sat around and wanted to impeach (screaming loudly and wildly) for "lying to the american people" but when it comes to a cop lying to the public, that's just a mistake and he should be excused for this.

This officer doesn't understand the difference between following policy and just doing whatever he wants to do - right or wrong.

SitandSpin

Maybe the SPD should give Ex-Trooper Wlodarsky another chance......Afterall birds of a feather flock together, he would fit in perfectly on Meigs Street ! 

stepham2009

 TAXPAYER 

Since you SEEM to KNOW EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING why don't YOU become a cop and see how hard the job is...the danger involved, the hours worked, the BS from people like you these officers put up with DAILY.....but then again YOU probably couldn't add 1+1 without counting on your fingers

44870 South

 ????? What are these comments????? People - the guy made a mistake. I mean some of you are calling into question everything from his character to his IQ. Seriously??? Such disregard. These cops put their well-being on the line EVERYDAY. One brave, young SPD officer gave his life doing just that - NOT EVEN A YEAR AGO! I imagine the job is stressful enough. You've never made a mistake while doing your job before? Who knows what was going through this officer's mind at the moment he was dealing with the IDIOT yelling outside the courthouse. So he misidentified another officer. The correction was made. He didn't follow the correct policy of correcting the mistake on paper, which was addressed by his superior. It was dealt with. So, why is this a huge story? 

 This officer is not a criminal. 

Good Grief.

excel

Gotta love the “I’m not losing my family and home for whatever personal gain would come of it.” Nothing about I swore to uphold a sacred oath and would never sacrafice my dignity. 

czechurself

So let me get this straight, Costante attacks the character and integrity of Sigsworth in an official police report, while attempting to maintain his own integrity by 'stepping in' and handling the incident, and then goes on to verbally attack Sigsworth in a private meeting with other LE in an official meeting that other LE report back to Sigsworth, all to find out that the real officer in question is Pfeiffer, but Pfeiffer maintains his integrity by suggesting that there was a no real situation as he observed it, which leads one to understand that either Costante was purposefully attacking the integrity of another agency, or Pfeiffer was negligent in his duty, or this was a trumped up situation. However, then after Costante is reprimanded goes back and breaks policy by erasing information on an official report and inserts the new officers name.  Ewww, that's sticky...it does make you wonder....But,

Should he be fired?  Thats harsh.  Was repremanding him enough for making the same mistake twice?  I dont know...  But thanks to the Register, whether you agree with the intent to printing this story, Costante is being held accountable by public opinion, and thats rough.  

sanduskysteve

@czechurself - that's the point of it all - thank you.  Apparently 44870 can't seem to understand the whole situation here.  The officer who lost his life is not a part of this and didn't deserve to lose his life for whatever reason.  And to do this to the officer that previously shown his ability to follow the rules in the drunk driving case shows his ability to be honest.

I'm sure that the drunk officer would have loved to have had SPD arrive at the scene first - maybe he would have gotten away with blaming the girl for driving.  Or at least it would have been in the oficial police report that way.

Sad, sad, sad. The SR had the right to publish this story just as they did - it IS news, the same old news repeated once again, but it IS news.

Julie R.

I can see maybe giving this officer the benefit of the doubt the first time when he mistakenly placed Diedre Cole at the scene of an incident that involved police --- but the same mistake AGAIN?   

summergrl

This would have never made the paper IF a cop didn't repeat what he/she heard at the FOP meeting.

summergrl

This would have never made the paper IF a cop didn't repeat what he/she heard at the FOP meeting.

Sue Meredith

Gee I wonder who called the SR to give them the heads up about this. After all, the reporters aren't mind readers. Someone obviously tipped them off.

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