By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer
Two Brimfield Township police officers have been disciplined after one of their guns accidentally fired while they cleaned their weapons at Field High School.
No students were harmed during the incident last month. The officers involved are school resource officers and they remain assigned to the high school.
Police Chief David Oliver said Friday that both officers used poor judgment by choosing to clean their pistols during school hours. He said they used an isolated, cinder-blocked room while students were in class.
He said the department at the time didn’t have a policy covering the cleaning of weapons at the school by resource officers because he never envisioned such a scenario unfolding. A written policy is now in place.
“We didn’t have it in writing because, to be 100 percent honest, it never crossed my mind that someone would clean their weapon at a school. That just doesn’t happen,” Oliver said. “That, to me, is just common sense.”
Field Schools Superintendent David Heflinger could not be reached for comment Friday.
Officer Brett Dinkelman, whose .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol discharged, was suspended three days without pay. Fellow officer Kelly Ryba was given a written reprimand, Oliver said.
As he has done for nearly any incident taking place in his small town, Oliver took to the department’s popular Facebook page on Friday to dispel “some rumors floating around” about the shooting.
The chief said he has posted two other entries about the shooting on the Facebook page.
On Friday, Oliver told the department’s 134,000-plus Facebook followers that no one was hurt and that no students were near the small, cinder-block walled room that the officers used at the high school to clean their weapons during the first period of classes on Dec. 17.
“This incident did NOT OCCUR NEAR ANY classrooms, students or civilians, regardless of what the anonymous coward is telling media outlets. The round entered the cinder block wall and did not exit the other side,” Oliver wrote on Facebook.
He said the officers had been at a shooting range the previous evening and had “dirty weapons.” The gun that fired apparently malfunctioned, he said. It is being tested.
Oliver said he responded to the school within 10 minutes of the discharge. No students heard the shot fired and a secretary who did hear said it sounded like a picture fell from the wall, he said.
“On scene I told every officer, supervisor and school official … no matter what the investigation reveals, we tell the truth, because that is just what we do,” he wrote.
A police captain conducted an internal investigation into the incident and it ended with the discipline issued to the officers.
“The rationale was that the resource officers did not want to leave the schools unguarded while they were on station for an hour maintaining weapons,” Oliver wrote.
Oliver ended his Facebook post with a message inviting parents to call him if anyone has questions.
“You can rest assured this was a one-time occurrence,” he wrote.