City fights officer's reinstatement

Keeps appeal under wraps.
Andy Ouriel
May 28, 2013

Sandusky’s top administrator continues to contest a decision to reinstate a police officer who was fired for allegedly swapping nude photos with his supervisor’s wife.

City manager Nicole Ard recently filed paperwork protesting an arbitrator’s ruling to bring back Sandusky police Officer Todd Smith.

Ard refused to comment on the ongoing matter.

She did indicate the city’s legal counsel plans to file an appeal aimed at keeping Smith away from police operations.

Sandusky’s legal counsel can wait until early July to file the appeal.

Ard’s fight seemingly stems from her decision to fire Smith in April 2012 for dishonesty, insubordination and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

The termination resulted from an early 2012 internal police investigation, questioning alleged antics involving Smith, Sandusky police Officer Stephen Ritterbach and Ritterbach’s wife, Jennifer.

Among the report’s findings: Jennifer asked Smith to have sex with her and Ritterbach in late 2011. Sometime afterwards, Ritterbach discovered the two exchanged nude images via text messaging, and he later threatened to shoot Smith.

Ritterbach and Smith’s tribulations mirror one another to a particular point.

Both were fired for their alleged actions.

Both received vindication from an arbitrator when, in separate cases, a judge mandated each one return to work and receive back pay, compensating them for all the time they missed in between getting fired and restarting.

But the similarities stop there.

City officials never disputed Ritterbach’s return, yet they’re protesting Smith’s comeback.

Why they’re battling Smith’s return — and not Ritterbach’s — is seemingly a mystery.

Ard fired Ritterbach for conduct unbecoming of an officer, harassment, making inappropriate comments, gossip, spreading false information about staff, dishonesty and insubordination.

Ritterbach, a former sergeant, returned to work in February, although he was demoted to officer.

The tumultuous saga continues to cause stress for all those involved.

“We’ll be happy when it’s over,” city commissioner Wes Poole said. “We are following the steps to bring this to an end. We are trying to do what we think is best for the police department.”

Comments

donutshopguy

What is Chief Orzach's position on this subject? Does he support his superiors or does he support his boys in blue?

entitled to my ...

I don't think the Chief has a say in the matter, since he wasn't Chief when all this went down. Interesting to me why Ard didn't fight Ritterbach's return, but is fighting Smith's. Must be more to the story than we know. Also, why keep spending tax-payer money, when chances are, the Judge is not going to rule against the arbitrator's ruling. I thought an arbitrator's ruling was binding. If not, then why even bother?

WhyRweHere

Was wondering the same thing, I guess we're not supposed to know...

donutshopguy

entitled,

I understand he was not chief at that time. What I would like to know what is his position on the issue now. His answer will tell us all what direction the department will be heading.

WhyRweHere

Im guessing his butt will stay firmly on the fence in this matter....I also got news for you....Orzech IS one of the GOBs.......which means he had just as much say in this as Ard....he MUST be related to Ritterbach

entitled to my ...

It would be ill-advised for him to make any comment, one way or the other, on the subject. Best just to let the court decide, and comment when all is said and done.

donutshopguy

Just want to know if they hired another member of the "good old boy club" or is Sandusky going to move forward beyond there troubled past?

It's important for the citizen to know this information.

donutshopguy

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

entitled to my ...

I think he is related to someone in the Detective Bureau, not 100% sure, though. I get your point about the G.O.B, but from everything I have heard, Orzech seems to be fair to everyone, and that is what the SPD needs. I guess only time will tell....

WhyRweHere

Ive read the entire report and if Orzechs version of this is true, why would they fight to keep Smith away and let Ritterbach return to duty with no fight at all?? Makes no sense, as for the binding arbitration, the losing side always has 90 days to file an appeal, just as if either officer had lost they could have appealed, but usually dont because the court rarely overturns an arbitrators decision. It does however, seems Ritterbachs or at least both......from what I read, Ritterbach propostioned a subordinate, went to his house to start a fight then threatened to shoot him while on duty. Smith was dishonest about some photos? If there is more to this, they arent saying its all in black and white in the report....but hey Ard isnt spending her money for this losing fight, just you tax payers, why should she care how much it will cost.....

sandusky2012

hey can i have a picture too?

buckeye15

Hey Todd Smith,

sandusky2012 wants to see your picture!

gene44870

I would like to know why there wasnt any charges filed in this case , These Police Officers must have a friend in Sandusky Muni

WhyRweHere

What charges would you like to have seen file? The Only crime committed Was when Ritterbach Threatened to shoot Smith, According to the report done by Orzech Smith did not want to file charges

sandusky2012

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

Julie R.

As per usual, this doesn't make a bit of sense. Common sense alone would say Ritterbach (and his wife) were more at fault than Smith, so why in the world are they wasting money disputing Smith's return when they never bothered to dispute Ritterbach's?

WhyRweHere

Julie R.

I have to say I completely agree with you, Given the circumstances I would have guessed They would have had a better chance At winning an appeal on a supervisor Who propositioned a subordinate And then threatened to kill that subordinate while working..... The subordinate then is not truthful about a picture he sent and THAT'S The one that you choose to appeal?????? No way the city Wins this And will owe Smith more backpay, THIS Is what's wrong with that city

pavedparadise

City Manager's attempt at saving face? Won't work. Any word on Scott Miller the fired Head of General Services?

Darkhorse

I agree with Ard. I think she did the right thing. Any officer who threatens to shot another officer whether he files a complaint or not, should not be on the force. The guy is a big liability to the city plain and simple. Who knows, maybe the insurance company is looking at this situation and is also advising the city as to whether or not they would cover the city if something were to happen. The threat is there and it is Ard's obligation to protect the rest of the officers especially the one who was threatened which would place the city in a big liability problem.

WhyRweHere

Ok, try reading the article completely darkhorse....Ritterbach is the on who threatened to shoot smith and Ritterbach is BACK to work but she's appealing smiths....