Yellow Springs Police Officer Fired
UPDATE: July 6, 2016
Officer John K. Whittemore has been fired from the Yellow Springs Police Department following an internal review, according to a statement from village manager Patti Bates.
An investigation is underway to determine whether a Yellow Springs Police officer used improper force during an incident in May. It comes after years of what community members describe as questionable policing tactics in the village.
Newly hired police officer John Whittemore was patrolling streets in Yellow Springs over Memorial Day weekend when he spotted a man who he said looked "agitated." The officer tried to stop him, and when he resisted, Whittemore wrestled him to the ground. A physical fight between the two then began. Eventually, Whittemore arrested the man for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
“And so you get into this question of was there enough probable cause to physically detain that individual,” said Yellow Springs Police Chief David Hale.
Hale says incidents like this automatically trigger internal investigations. Whittemore was also part of a separate incident that weekend that involved him breaking the car window of woman he suspected of operating a vehicle while intoxicated -- the department decided not to review that case because it met the state standard for use of force.
“You also have a community standard and Yellow Springs community standard is very, very high,” said Hale. "And I think a lot of people are upset because it may not have hit the community standard."
Chrissy Cruz a member of the Yellow Springs Village Council’s Human Relations Commission, says these incidents are part of a larger pattern of tense police-community relations in the village.
"We've been having forums, we've had surveys, we've had meetings with the Chief...we've talked for the last couple years intensively about this," said Cruz. "And these two incidents make me feel like maybe a lot of this has been a waste of time."
Last year, there were allegations of misconduct against another Yellow Springs Police officer -- an investigation later cleared him of wrongdoing.
Cruz says the Village Council is forming a Police Justice task force to encourage more community-centered policing tactics.
The investigation into the Memorial Day incident is set to conclude by July 11th.