Police Chief Snyder announces retirement
by BRIAN GRAVES Banner staff writer
Dec 08, 2013 | 7282 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Cleveland city officials were not denying Saturday the sudden retirement Friday of Cleveland Chief of Police Wes Snyder was related to an incident at a local warehouse facility, but gave definite confirmation of his involvement with another local civic leader at that location.

Snyder’s letter, dated Friday and released later that same day, noted his retirement would be effective Jan. 5, 2014, marking his 10th anniversary in the department’s top job.

City Manager Janice Casteel said Cleveland Police Capt. David Bishop would be serving as interim chief until Snyder’s retirement date.

However, what might have been a standard retirement announcement was tarnished as news of the reported incident began to circulate.

According to a police incident report, Officer John Prince responded to a call Wednesday afternoon from Rhodes Climate Controlled Storage, located at 3305 Old Tasso Road.

The report said the manager and owner showed Prince pictures and videos, as well as witness accounts, of unusual activity at one of the units.

The owner told Prince, while he was investigating the alleged activity, he looked over the unit’s door and found “a few boxes that were in front of the sliding door, and on the other side of the boxes were an area rug with a couple of blankets and pillows, a fold-out chair and a three-drawer plastic container.”

The owner requested Prince to go into the unit. Prince then contacted Bishop and advised him of the situation.

Prince was advised by the owner the renter of the unit was MainStreet Cleveland through its executive director, Sharon Marr.

Bishop and Lt. Mark Gibson responded to the business and also watched the surveillance video.

The video showed Marr entering the building “with a white male dressed in a suit with a brown sport coat.”

“About an hour and a half later the male is seen exiting the building and getting into [Marr’s] vehicle and about three minutes later [Marr] exiting the building and gets into her vehicle and the two leave the property together,” the report said.

CPD Public Information Officer Evie West confirmed to the Banner the man in the video was positively identified as Snyder, although he was not named in the report.

When the officers entered the unit, they found the condition of the unit just as the owner had described.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said he was notified by Casteel Friday morning around 7:30 telling him there had been “a situation.”

“That is when she told me of the chief’s retirement,” Rowland said.

Casteel verified her conversation with the mayor and also confirmed to the Banner there was an incident report that had been completed, but would not confirm it involved Snyder.

When the Banner attempted to request the report, West said there was no one in the records department that would be able to fulfill that request until normal office hours Monday morning.

The CPD’s website does specify record requests are handled during normal weekday business hours.

When the Banner contacted Casteel again, she said she would speak to Bishop and see if the release could be expedited.

The city manager returned the Banner’s phone call within 15 minutes and said the report would be released.

Casteel never confirmed the report was related to Snyder’s retirement, but did acknowledge the report is a public document and would have been readily available to anyone when the department opened for regular hours Monday morning.

“I have seen all the rumors and gossip and much of it is not true,” Casteel said. “I think it is best to just get the facts out and try to move on.

“I think it is important to note that every employee of the city of Cleveland is treated equally,” Casteel said. “Everyone is expected to adhere to the same principles and policies that have been established by the city.”

Casteel said she expected the matter could possibly come up at Monday’s meeting of the city council.

The city manager did say there was “no illegal activity” in the report, but the city’s personnel policies do leave the door open in a situation which gives the appearance impropriety, such as this one.

“Whenever an employee’s performance, attitude, work habits or personal conduct fall below a desirable level, supervisors shall inform employees promptly and specifically of such lapses and shall give them counsel and assistance,” the policy states. “However, the action to be taken depends on the seriousness of the incident and the whole pattern of the employee’s past performance and conduct.”

Snyder’s direct supervisor in this case would be Casteel, who has the authority to make hiring, firing and disciplinary decisions.

“I was shocked and saddened to have heard the details of the incident report,” Rowland said. “I feel sorry for both families involved and offer my prayers for both.”

He also said it was his understanding the MainStreet Cleveland board was still in the process of analyzing the news and has not made any decisions on Marr’s future with the organization or whether there would be a decision necessary since there were no illegalities involved.

Attempts to contact Snyder Saturday on his cell phone were not successful and his home phone number had been disconnected.