Police sergeant gets second chance plus $50,000

Matt Westerhold
Feb 15, 2013

There has to be a better way to manage a staff. An arbitrator's decision will cost city taxpayers $50,000 and a police sergeant gets his job back. 

The story is on page A2 in today's e*Paper and the ruling from a state arbitrator will get posted at sanduskyregister.com later today. 

The Sandusky Police Department deserves credit for working to improve services and discipline among its ranks. But maybe police Sgt. Steve Ritterbach deserves a second chance on the force and the same might be true for SPD officer Todd Smith. Both were fired last year after a sexting, texting and threats incident involving them and Ritterbach's new wife. 

Maybe they don't deserve their jobs back.

Who knows?

But taxpayers know — and commissioners would be well served to learn — that spending $100,000 on failed disciplinary actions is not a wise use of the public's money, and there's likely to be additional expense when city attorneys mail their invoices to taxpayers. Taxpayers deserve to hear from the city manager what the city can do, and what it is doing, to address the serious shortcomings of city management and structure that results six-digit losses. Residents deserve to know what is being done to serve the worthy goals established for the city manager. 

If that public money were properly spent it could have brought down 10 abandoned homes in Sandusky neighborhoods and improved the quality of life for hundreds of residents. It could have been spent to clean the giant toilet that the old Surf's Up pool has become; it could have been spent to cut down 100 dead city trees; it could have been donated to a homeless shelter.

There are a hundred better ways to spend $100,000.


my oh my

Do you want an officer who makes threats to arrest and who is to say that he/she may or may not harrass another female or threaten whomever they may arrest.Very unjust decision by the arbitrator..Corruption in city of Sandusky 101 continues...


Gonna be interesting to read the article to find out whom on the City's behalf screwed this up.

Hope it wasn't the City Manager. No worries, Wiredmama will vindicate her.


It seems to me that it is not me who can vindicate her. Where was Don Icsman when all this is going on? Is it not HE who should be handling this. It is a legal matter.

Where is our more than efficient (or that is what the story is according to the SR), city attorney in all this? Or has he farmed this out to another lawyer who has done nothing with it?

Yes, I will stand behind her. Someone has to. Or is this just something you plan to use in your bid for another run at the commission?



If my mind serves me right, Icsman farms out these type high profile items, including the Miller incident, so the finger can't be pointed at him when things go sour.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights) and Libel and defamation.


@ wiredmama222;;; Remember this??

City attorney bungles paperwork; Gilliam reinstated

Sandusky officials were forced to rehire a fired police officer because a city attorney failed to properly file paperwork.

Andy Ouriel Sandusky Sep 15, 2012

'Sandusky officials were forced to rehire a fired police officer because a city attorney failed to properly file paperwork. The union attorney representing Gilliam never received the paperwork from Mark Fishel, the Columbus attorney representing the city, who missed a deadline to provide the documentation'.

Officer Mark Gilliam was placed back on the force Aug. 28.

Julie R.

That case with the so-called bungled paperwork and Gilliam was a scam. It was one of those: "Oh gee, it was an honest mistake" that attorneys and the courts are well-known for.

The city's hired attorney Mark Fishel argued they could wait a year to deliver the proper paperwork. (A YEAR? I'm not even an attorney and I know that's a lie) I also know that when an attorney ~ or anybody for that matter ~ files paperwork with the clerk of the common pleas there has to be one of two certificates filed with it. There has to be either a Cerfiticate of Service that states the attorney has sent copies to all parties (along with the names and addresses of the parties) or else the attorney gives instructions to the clerk's office to send copies.

The city's attorney said he relied on the clerk of court employees to mail out pertinent information to the union members, which can only mean he instructed the clerk employees to do it ..... yet Binette publicly admonished the attorney saying: "Trying to shift the blame to the clerk's employees for failure to follow the statute is unacceptable and unprofessional."

I know how they work in Erie County.



entitled to my ...

@wired: Like I said earlier, the City fires employees that shouldn't be fired. Should they be disciplined? ABSOLUTELY! Should Police Officers be held to a "higher standard"? YEP! But, unions are in place to protect employees. There are certain progressive discipline steps that needs to be followed. I agree with Westerhold- I don't know IF Ritterbach and Smith should be reinstated. My problem with this whole situation is: SHOULD THEY HAVE BEEN FIRED IN THE FIRST PLACE? In my opinion: NO! Suspensions, demotions, reprimands- that would have made more sense.

Sit n Spin

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We all need to understand the public employees cannot be fired. They can steal, cheat and lie. It's the bureaucratic way today. Jobs forever.

Next time one of these officers picks you up just tell them you are covered under a local taxpayer union and he will give you another chance.

Shouldn't all people be teated the same? Join the fun.




It's the Obama way... jobs for life at taxpayers(whoever is left paying) expense!


Obama has NOTHING to do with this. The election is over...get over it.


If you are in the union, nothing can touch you. We need to be watching over our shoulders at all times for them to screw up again and cost the city more money. It is the comeback (teflon) police department. Any other employee, and they would be out for good but the union will protect them at all costs. What is really costly is they even get three strikes which is even worse. Who is writing these contracts?


So if I am arrested by him can I get out of it? I would challenge anything he does due to his history.


That's the way it is everywhere. Not just Sandusky. If you are paid by the city, state, or federal government, you can pretty much get away with anything. It's a benefit of belonging to the "good ole boy's club".


Ruger is going to make a new gun in honor of President Obama, they are going to the it the "Union Worker"....you can't fire it :)

entitled to my ...

I don't think it's a matter of not being "able" to get fired, it's more a matter of the City not following proper protocol. Under most union contracts there are discipline "steps" that need to be followed.(unless it's egregious) I think Icsman and Ard "jump the gun" by firing employees that maybe DESERVE to be fired, but because of their contract should have been suspended first. And that's true of any place that has a union. That's why when a "neutral" party hears the case in arbitration, the employee usually gets their job back. The City needs to follow the guidelines set forth in the union contracts. Personally, I think once a new chief is hired (hopefully Orzech), the Police Department will once again regain the respect of the citizen's of Sandusky!!!

sandtown born a...

Pathetic people without a clue. Obama must be the reason for concentration camps and pearl harbor as well . He is the fault of everything in somes eyes. Pathetic is all I can say and I didnt even vote for Obama and still I am standing here in disbelief about some accusations. I dont jump on the bandwagon of finger pointers. Dont have a job or a cushy life , well get off your tail and change it stop blaming others for your laziness

Sit n Spin

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights) and Libel and defamation.

entitled to my ...

Hey, just my opinion! My main problem with all of this is-the City just fires people when maybe they shouldn't have been fired. That is why they ALL get their jobs back, or the City ends up "settling" the lawsuits that are brought against them. (remember Dave Mulvin?) When was the last time the City actually WON an arbitration case? Something is wrong here with the way the powers that be at the City handle these cases. I don't know if Ritterbach or Smith deserve to get their jobs back, all I know is this: Icsman and Ard need to follow the guidelines set forth in the union contract and not be so quick to fire someone who may or may not deserve to be fired. Again- WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THE CITY WON AN ARBITRATION CASE?

sandtown born a...

Smartest comment yet ! Terminate these people the right way so they have no way to fight it duhhhhh

Julie R.


Have you forgotten Kim Nuesse?

entitled to my ...

Julie R.: I don't think Nuesse was a union employee. I believe the Police Chief is an "at will" employee. And if my memory serves me correctly, she WON her arbitration case, but the City fought the ruling and won. So again, I ask the question, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THE CITY WON AN ARBITRATION CASE???

Dont Worry Be Happy

Does anyone else think Julie R is Kim Nuesse??? All she talks about is Sandusky PD , judges and Kim Nuessee...yawn!


Julie R. is trying to expose the powers that be.

BW1's picture

You must be new here. Nuesse never had an inheritance stolen by crooked lawyers.

Julie R.

I'm not trying to expose the powers that be ---- the clowns are pretty much doing that on their own!

BW1's picture

"Did you know there's a LAW that says anybody that assists in fraud is just as guilty as the one(s) that benefit from it?"

Yes, I did. So what is your point? Oh, that's right, you don't have one; you just want to rant about what happened to you. Life will get better when you move on and find something other than victimhood to define yourself.