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Controversial Akron officer collects about $125,000 before resigning

By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer

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The often controversial career of an Akron police officer ended with the new year, but only after the city paid the former street gang expert more than $125,000 to stay home for more than 28 months.

The separation agreement between former Patrolman Donald Schismenos and city attorneys took effect Dec. 27. Documents related to the agreement were released by the city Friday.

In addition, a lengthy probe of Schismenos’ conduct by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has ended without any charges being filed, a spokeswoman said.

According to the agreement, the city drops any efforts to fire Schismenos and instead, the officer agrees to resign from the force and to not pursue any litigation against the city.

In addition, Schismenos forever surrenders — and agrees to never again seek — his Ohio Peace Officer training certificate, thus ending his career in law enforcement in the state.

The city was unable to provide Schismenos’ total compensation on Friday.

However, in March of last year, they acknowledged that the officer had been paid $83,000 during the first 19 months of his leave. At that rate, he would have been paid about $125,000 in salary alone over the 28 months he was on leave.

The settlement also calls for the former officer to receive his accumulated leave pay as well as longevity payments due him. It is unclear from the documents released by the city how much Schismenos stood to collect.

Keeping partial pension

According to the agreement, Schismenos, 47, keeps a partial pension that will allow him to collect some retirement money. Schismenos has been with the department since 1992.

He could not be located for comment.

“Basically, he decided to move on to other opportunities and I wish him well,” said Officer Paul Hlynsky, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents Akron officers.

Police Chief James Nice declined comment Friday.

Schismenos was placed on leave with pay on Aug. 3, 2011, and was paid his regular salary until this past Dec. 27.

He was not paid for a 45-day stretch when he served a suspension for a prior disciplinary incident.

His separation from the department stems from the BCI investigation into potential misconduct. Authorities have not yet released documents related to the probe.

A public records request was filed with the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office on Jan. 9. It is the Akron Beacon Journal’s second request for the documents since March.

The allegations behind the criminal probe have never been publicly revealed. Those familiar with the case say it involved a multitude of pages of documents related to Schismenos’ work on a computer.

Schismenos’ performance first came to light in a series of articles in the Beacon Journal in 2010 that outlined a number of citizen complaints lodged against the officer.

Schismenos, who worked the department’s least desirable shifts, often in the toughest neighborhoods, was a noted expert on street gang activity.

Prosecutors frequently used him to testify in cases against gang members. Community groups often counted on him to educate parents and professionals on the gang problem in Akron.

On the flip side, Schismenos was among the department’s leaders in citizen complaints and use-of-force investigations.

One complaint in 2010 prompted the 45-day suspension. In that case, he confronted a woman videotaping him as he made an arrest. Schismenos later arrested the woman, had her jailed for nearly two days and confiscated her camera, all while disregarding a sergeant’s order to leave the woman alone.

After the series of news stories, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic tripled an original 15-day suspension over the camera seizure and ordered Schismenos to undergo a “fitness for duty evaluation.”

Schismenos later sued the city for slander, but ultimately withdrew the suit before it went to court and without reaching a settlement.

Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or ptrexler@thebeaconjournal.com. He can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PhilTrexler


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