CRIDERSVILLE — The police chief of the Auglaize County village of Cridersville has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of an unspecified investigation currently underway by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Jill Del Greco, public information officer with the BCI, on Thursday confirmed that a search warrant was executed Tuesday afternoon at the Cridersville Police Department office. She said BCI agents were dispatched to the village after Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon requested the state law enforcement agency “look into alleged misconduct of a public official” in Cridersville.
Later that day, Police Chief John Drake was placed on the paid leave and Mayor Rick Walls at that time named Lt. Brian Creech acting chief of police, according to published reports.
Walls could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Lima attorney Angela Elliott, who serves as legal counsel for the village, confirmed the BCI’s presence at the police station earlier this week but had no further comment surrounding the police chief’s paid suspension. She said Drake serves at the pleasure of the mayor and that Walls acted on his own in placing the chief on administrative leave.
Solomon said his office was notified of a “possible issue” involving Drake, setting in motion the wheels for an outside investigation. BCI was called in to investigate, the sheriff said, “due to the potential conflict of interest” that could arise if Auglaize County authorities conducted the probe. Drake has worked in concert with the sheriff’s office on several occasions in the past, Solomon said.
The BCI spokeswoman said evidence “related to the investigation” was seized from the chief’s office during Tuesday’s search. She declined to provide additional information.
Drake has been Cridersville police chief since 1996. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.