Firefighter under fire

SANDUSKY Harold Roane decided to break the code of silence. Roane, a Sandusky FireDepartment l
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Harold Roane decided to break the code of silence.  Roane, a Sandusky FireDepartment lieutenant, said it was the right thing to do despite an unspoken rule among both firefighters and police officers everywhere.

"Union firefighters ... stick together in a show of solidarity, and it is generally accepted and understood that you will not be a whistle blower, turn in or even testify against your fellow firefighter," Roane said.

"If you do, you will be subject to ridicule, ostracized and generally ignored or blackballed."

It was a moral obligation to tell fire Chief Mike Meinzer of a threat made on his life, Roane said.

"I think all of these guys, if the threat had been made against their life, they would be glad that somebody spoke up against it," Roane said.

In a Nov. 28 e-mail Roane, a 29-year department veteran, told Meinzer firefighter Todd Schoen, 46, had threatened to shoot and kill the chief.

Roane's e-mail led to an investigation by Sandusky police, and their findings were released Friday.

The investigation uncovered allegations Schoen made threats about "shooting up the fire stations" and tried to commit suicide by lying on railroad tracks.

Schoen faces five allegations of misconduct including discourteous conduct while dealing with citizens, disrespectful and threatening conduct while dealing with supervisors, insubordination during his annual performance evaluation, making derogatory comments about co-employees/supervisors, and violating patients' rights by discussing protected health information.

At a pre-disciplinary hearing Tuesday morning, Schoen, along with representatives from the Sandusky firefighters' union, met with Kline, Meinzer and Warrenette Parthemore, director of administrative services.

No decisions have been made yet, and no criminal charges have been filed against Schoen, according to Kline.

Schoen declined to comment, as did union representatives. His attorney, Peter J. McGory, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Kline said he took several pages of notes at the meeting, which he will now review. A decision can be expected within the next week.

"It allowed Todd to communicate with us," Kline said. "It's been my policy to not make a decision this quick."

Schoen remains on paid suspension from work.

The investigation also revealed Roane was the only firefighter questioned who agreed to take a lie detector test -- which came out clean.

"I'm just sorry this had to come down to this," he said of reporting the incident. "I had no choice as an officer and as a person. I felt responsible for the lives of the fire chief or anyone else that gets threatened."

Roane said since reporting the incident he has felt ill will from some co-workers.

Kline previously said there appeared to be a breakdown in discipline among some middle-managers at the fire department. Capt. Jeff Ferrell maintained to police he was not present when the alleged threat was made, although Roane said otherwise. Ferrell did not return calls for comment Tuesday.