Police ‘transparency’ database wrongly implied prominent local police chief was fired

50-year law enforcement veteran called the designation ‘a gut punch’

An effort by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to provide transparency into why peace officers leave a department includes information one prominent local lawman is concerned is misleading after being contacted by the Dayton Daily News.

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy public portal listed the reason former Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff — a 50-year law enforcement veteran who retired in June following an honorable career in two states — left the city as “termination” instead of “retirement.”

The Dayton Daily News noticed this while analyzing the database. Prior to the Dayton Daily News contacting Springboro officials, Kruithoff had no idea that this database was public and made it look like he was fired.

“It was frustrating,” Kruithoff said. “It was like a gut punch.”

Kruithoff said that the state agency within the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has had challenges, adding, “there’s really not an excuse to have that on the official Attorney General’s website and I still haven’t been given an explanation how this happened. I still would like to know.”

On Wednesday, Kruithoff contacted OPOTA/OPOTC trying to get more information. Later in the day, OPOTA/OPOTC sent the city of Springboro a revised form which was completed and returned, and updated the public database to reflect his retirement. But it’s unclear how many other officers’ information is incorrect or misleading.

The Dayton Daily News contacted OPOTA/OPOTC executive director Thomas Quinlan to find out how this error occurred and if there are other retired police officers who might be in the same situation as Kruithoff was in Wednesday. He deferred comment to his public information officer.

Kelly May, a public information officer for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said the information for the database is submitted by the agencies on a form or through the portal.

The Dayton Daily News learned the issue may have occurred when the Ohio Attorney General’s Office — which oversees OPOTA — changed how it tracks why officers separate from local departments as part of an effort to make that information more transparent and help police chiefs and county sheriffs know an officer has proper training and no history of problems before hiring them.

“We want Ohio to continue to set the standard for good policing,” Yost said in launching the public portal on Nov. 14. “From the time an officer first puts on their badge to when they hang it up, transparency will help keep quality cops on the streets of our communities.”

But when they did this, the state changed the form local departments use to report separations.

Prior to the change, the portal only listed the following designations:

  • Resignation;
  • Death;
  • Felony Conviction (with a note to explain below on the form);
  • Misdemeanor guilty plea with a surrender of peace officer certificate (and note to explain below on the form).;
  • Separation from Service, Retirement, or Termination for any other reason.

The new system breaks our more reasons for separation:

  • Resignation – in good standing;
  • Resignation – under investigation;
  • Resignation – in lieu of termination;
  • Retirement;
  • Retirement – under criminal investigation;
  • Criminal Conviction;
  • Termination;
  • Death (line of duty or other);

So separations that occurred before the update could be listed differently, with retirements being listed as terminations.

May emphasized that the term “termination” references the officer’s police commission and has no negative connotations.

Ironically, Kruithoff had been a member of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, which is also under the Ohio Attorney General. In fact, that commission presented Kruithoff a plaque honoring his years of service as a commission member at his retirement party. Kruithoff’s photo and biography are also on Yost’s website as of Thursday.

The Dayton Daily News reviewed Kruithoff’s lengthy personnel jackets, which when stacked up was several inches tall, and found nothing negative in his evaluations and other documents. The documents were correctly filled out by Springboro officials. However neither Kruithoff nor Springboro officials were aware of the “Terminated” designation on the police database. In fact, neither Kruithoff nor Springboro city officials knew this public database existed.

Kruithoff said he was glad that was discovered because trying to fix this at a later date could become a problem for someone.

“Your name and reputation is all you have at the end of the day,” Kruithoff said. “The accusation is the damage. You can try to explain but it sounds like you’re trying to spin something. There’s no reason for this. If someone lost a job opportunity because of this, that would be a shame.”

Accountability reporting

The Dayton Daily News is committed to accountability reporting, and making sure information posted by public agencies is true. Your subscription makes this work possible.

      About the Author