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Circleville Councilman Brooks Speaks Out on Being Kept in the Dark on Police Misconduct Issues


Circleville – Not much was on the agenda on Tuesday night for the Circleville Council meeting but a lot was said.

During the meeting, Circleville Councilperson Zack Brooks spoke on the lack of transparency that the City has given him surrounding the firing of a safety director, and the placing on leave of the two top brass at Circleville Police department Chief Baer and Doug Davis.

“As we’re all aware, there have been several issues surrounding our Department of Public Safety. Communication between us and the council, the members of council and the administration, and others involved in the situation has been insufficient, to say the least. As an elected representative of the city. Transparency is of the utmost importance to me. I know that the people that we have all been elected to represent would agree with that sentiment. So I’d like to backtrack a little bit starting back on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. This was the day after Steve Wilkinson, now former safety director gave his speech to counsel. driving to work very next morning concerned about what I’d heard the night before I played back Steve speech portion of the meeting, several times on my half-hour trip to work ultimately came to the conclusion that I needed to talk to Steve himself to get his side of the story. Do my due diligence, make sure that as an elected representative of this community that I gather information from as many sides of the story as possible. So through a friend of a friend, I was able to get a hold of Steve and later that afternoon, we had a lengthy phone conversation where he presented me with information dating back to October 2023, when he started as a reserve officer for the city of Circleville. This was when he started to observe things within the department that were not being done correctly and were downright unacceptable, such as improper firearm training, communication issues with superiors, and much more. That afternoon, I decided to put in the records requests at the police department pertaining to personnel files, discipline records, and information about active investigations within the Police Department. Two days later, on Friday, March 22, I was contacted by the law director, and told that her office was very busy and that my records requests were at the bottom of their list, so I would get them when they had time to get to them. Here we are almost two weeks later, these requested documents documents which I need to make an educated decision on how to vote on these issues when presented yet to receive those documents two weeks later. There’s the most frustrating part about this entire situation. Since our last Council meeting, we received very little information about these issues. Most of the information I’ve gathered on these issues has been from my friends at the Sciotopost the Circleville Herald, ABC 6, 10 TV, Fox 28, NBC Four, and the dispatch. On top of having to rely on local news to get my information about the city that I was elected to serve several people, several of the records that I requested, I was able to find on NBC for just last week, meanwhile, still not receiving them. It’s very unsettling. To me, that company out of Columbus was prioritized over a citizen of the city of Circleville. Not only that Councilmen whose responsibility it is to make decisions for this town. What’s even more unsettling is that I along with everybody else on the council, it’s been advised not to speak with any past or present employees of the city pertaining to these problems. As of yesterday, members of the Council were asked to hand over communication to and from Steve Wilkinson, as well as documents that were shared either by or with Mr. Wilkinson in the most startling of all, summarization of conversations that we’ve had with Mr. Wilkinson, been advised by my lawyer to hand over those documents, because I don’t have anything to hide in the 15 text messages, two or three emails between Mr Wilkinson and myself. But I’ve been advised that I do not have a legal obligation to summarize conversations that I’ve had between myself, and Mr. Wilkinson, so they’re not after counsel will gladly hand over those email records and text messages. But it’s unacceptable. The way communication has been handled thus far and our new term. As an elected representative of this community, it’s our duty to gather information from all parties so that we can make educated decisions when voting on things that might affect the city and its ability to operate in an effective, safe, and honest way. Were we ever updated on the fact that being investigated by the state auditor special investigative unit, were we ever informed and informed that the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission was looking into these issues, supposedly relieved for officers duty last week due to failure to keep up with annual training. Read that online just last week, I can tell you that I wasn’t informed of these things by anybody. I’m starting to wonder what else is being kept from us. If we are to do our jobs to the best of our ability and serve the community that we were elected by, we cannot continue to be fed bits and pieces of information here and there. Transparency has got to be at the top of our list. I feel as though there has been very little of it,” said Zack Brooks.

Law Director Kendra Kinney replied to Brooks statement, “Briefly, Mr. Brooks, I want to respond to some of the statements that you made specifically two days ago. I believe the city contacted you regarding your records request and had a few questions to clarify, no response has been provided, waiting on that response for your documentation to be released. If you could please contact the police department that would be appreciated since they’re the ones who contacted you. Additionally, why I understand the frustration of many individuals in this room. these matters are subject to investigation, the city has been quite clear that there’ll be no con comment on them. And we’ll continue to make that comment on behalf of the city. So again today with regards to any of the issues pressing and concerns with whether it is terminated Safety Director Steve Wilkinson, administrative leave on leave Chief Baer, or administrative on the deputy Doug Davis the city has no formal comments. Thank you.”

Sciotopost understands Brooks’s issues with transparency with the Circleville Police Department and with the City. Several times we have reached out for reports and information to have it given to certain news agencies, or ignored completely. We still have pending information from before the current Mayor took office and some items that have not been fulfilled in over a year at the Circleville Police Department. Some of which are probably not timely at this point in time. We once did not receive information on an arrest that we requested until after the person was processed through Court and was sentenced to prison. We have not had these kinds of issues with other Sheriff departments, police departments, or city administrations in our area coverage. That includes Pickaway Sheriff’s Office, Ashville Police, Commerical Point Police, South Bloomfield Police, New Holland Police, Ross County Sheriff’s Department, Chillicothe Police, Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department, Lancaster Police Department, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, Washington Court House police department, Hocking County Sheriff department, and all of the cities and administration of those police departments have always been timely on their press releases and documentations under the sunshine laws. One particular incident that Sciotopost was kept out of the loop was the Circleville K9 incident that we requested the same day that the incident occurred but to my surprise, most everyone else received those documents before us.

Even though we struggle to get information from the city, we still work every day to keep people informed and we continue to work with local officials to let people know what’s going on in a factual way.