After a six-week investigation, a Yellow Springs police sergeant was disciplined for misconduct for forcibly grabbing a video camera from a disabled woman last year.
The stipulations of her disciplinary action require Penrod to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination, serve a minimum 180-day performance improvement period as well the days of unpaid suspension. The improvement program provides training “designed to specifically enhance your ability to perform your duties in a proper manner,” and includes monthly meetings with Yellow Springs Police Chief David Hale and bimonthly evaluations by Village Manager Patti Bates.
The incident in question occurred in early November when a landlord who had issued an eviction notice called the police and then left the property.
When three Yellow Springs officers arrived on the scene, tenant Athena Fannin began recording their actions; soon enough Penrod forced the camera out of Fannin’s hands. The three-second clip of this interaction went viral after being widely shared on social media.
Chief Hale found that Penrod had committed two counts of improper conduct, including forcibly taking Fannin’s camera and exhibiting hostility without cause.
After a series a series of predisciplinary hearings, Bates made the final disciplinary action based on Hale’s recommendation. It should be noted that Sergeant Penrod has no official complaints other than Fannin’s on her official seven-year record as an officer in the Village, a discrepancy Bates took into consideration during the disciplinary proceedings.
Especially considering the Yellow Springs News had also filed a couple of complaints against her that are not described in detail in the article.
The final decision, made by Bates and based on Hale’s recommendation, included two earlier complaints lodged by the Yellow Springs News regarding Penrod’s allegedly aggressive manner. Currently Sergeant Penrod has several commendations and no complaints other than Fannin’s on her official seven-year record as an officer in the Village, a discrepancy Bates notes in her letter.
“The fact that the previous incidents noted herein are not in your file is problematic of a system that will change during my tenure,” said Bates. “I find that under the circumstances, additional discipline must be imposed consistent with my interpretation of the Personnel Manual and my responsibilities as the Village Manager.”
According to Bates, complaints regarding Village personnel that are submitted in writing and found to be legitimate are recorded and, according to Village policy, placed permanently in the employee’s personnel file. Cases such as this one may cause for a more in-depth review of employee files and impose more stringent sanctions against those found of any wrongdoing.
Currently, Fannin is seeking criminal charges against Sergeant Penrod. The Clark County Sheriff’s Department completed an independent investigation of the case last week and is awaiting review from a Springfield City Prosecutor.
Check out video of the incident below as well as a recording of Fannin’s 911 call from that day. We commend Chief Hale for setting a standard for professionalism within his first week as permanent chief.