KKK troopers to learn their fate soon

SANDUSKY Two troopers fired for a 'KKK prank' await word on whether they will resume working.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Two troopers fired for a 'KKK prank' await word on whether they will resume working.

The two troopers presented their arguments to get their badges back during a Sept. 4 arbitration hearing.

They should know their fates by Oct. 20, an Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Craig Franklin and Eric Wlodarsky were fired in the spring for their roles in the prank. Franklin dressed up in a makeshift KKK outfit and Wlodarsky snapped his picture on a cell phone while the two were on duty at the Sandusky post of the Patrol. The photo was taken Jan. 20, the day before Martin Luther King Jr. day.

The picture was sent to a trooper at another post where someone discovered it and sent it to Patrol brass.

Both troopers apologized for the incident, calling it a joke. The two men said it was based on a skit by black comedian Dave Chappelle.

Initially the two men were disciplined and recommended for termination, but were allowed to retain their jobs thanks to a last-chance provision in their union agreement.

But when the incident was uncovered by the Register, the Sandusky NAACP demanded the troopers be fired. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland later ordered that the troopers' employment be terminated.

Franklin and Wlodarsky contend their firing violated the union agreement and they should get their jobs back, Elaine Silveria said. Silveria is a lawyer for the Ohio State Trooper Association, the union that represents the fired troopers.

"They feel as though they were fired unjustly and want their jobs back," Silveria said.

Silveria did not know if either trooper is working another job.

If the mediator rules against the troopers, they'll have no further recourse to regain their positions, Silveria said.

"Arbitration is final, it's binding on the employee and the union," she said.

Silveria claims Strickland overstepped his authority in this situation.

"The governor had no authority to do what he did," Silveria said. "We had an executed contract."