Talk of harm to police chief among reasons officer fired, records show

Douglas Hesler
Douglas Hesler

Remarks about harm to the police chief and “racially insensitive” comments to a female officer led up to the firing of a Miami Twp. police officer who was a union leader, records show.

In recommending Douglas Hesler’s termination Police Chief Charlie Stiegelmeyer also noted the veteran officer’s violation of the department’s policies for recording, code of conduct and core values, according to township documents.

Hesler, 46, was a department Fraternal Order of Police vice president and a 20-year officer. He was the longtime handler of the department’s K-9 officer before trustees voted 3-0 to fire him May 20, less than a week after Stiegelmeyer succeeded Ron Hess as police chief.

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Comments Hesler made in 2016 about Hess indicated he “would be happy (and) take joy in harm happening to the chief,” the conclusion of an internal investigation states.

That report was among hundreds of pages of documents reviewed by this news organization after they were obtained from the township through a public records request.

Hess, now the township administrator, and Stiegelmeyer did not respond to a message seeking comment for this article. Attempts to contact Hesler and the FOP were unsuccessful.

The remarks about Hess resulted in an unpaid 1.5-day suspension for Hesler and “a stern warning that any future similar conduct will result in more severe discipline, which may include termination,” according to a 2016 memo from Hess to Hesler.

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The comments were made by Hesler after — two superiors said — he became “enraged after being notified that he finished third in the selection process for promotion,” a Sept. 14, 2016 memo from Capt. John Magill sates.

Last year, Hesler filed a grievance after he was given a five-day, unpaid suspension, records show.

The suspension came after he told a fellow officer that if she wanted to file a complaint with the union against a superior, “you have a golden ticket because you’re a black female,” according to the arbitrator’s ruling, which was made in the township’s favor and dated five days before the termination.

Hesler told the officer “they can’t treat you like other people,” states the arbitrator’s ruling.

“The comments made by Officer Hesler are of a serious nature, and given the racially insensitive nature of these comments, they are completely unacceptable in the workplace,” then-Miami Twp. Capt. Russell Johnson said in a 2018 finding. “Such comments are detrimental to morale within the police department and have cause division among officers…”

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The township’s investigation “was a full and complete one and that it was a sound basis for the discipline that was imposed in 2018; the employer properly considered all of the relevant facts before imposing the five-day suspension,” according to the arbitrator’s ruling.

Hesler was hired by Miami Twp. in 2007 after serving as a police officer in New Lebanon for about eight years.

With Miami Twp., Hesler had solid annual evaluations, meeting or exceeding standards in every category in which he was scored, records show.

He was named the handler for the department’s K-9 officer, Coron, when Miami Twp. began the program in 2011. Hesler achieved the highest score among three candidates. Citing Coron’s retirement and a need to have more officers on the street, Hess earlier this year disbanded the K-9 program.

Throughout his tenure, Hesler consistently received letters of recognition from both the public and his superiors for his teamwork, initiative and performance, according to township documents.

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