The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 21, 2014

Man who reported incident he didn’t see put on ARD

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — A man whose complaint against a Hermitage police officer resulted in the officer being reprimanded has been enrolled in a diversionary program stemming from charges filed against him over the same incident.

On March 13, Ward C. McKinney, 30, of 1315 Orangeville Road, Hermitage was put on the probation-like Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition for six months. If he successsfully completes the program, two criminal charges will be dismissed and could be expunged.

McKinney was charged with false alarm and false report for calling Mercer County 911 at 4:20 p.m. Oct. 13 and telling a dispatcher of a fight between three or four people at Orange Village Apartments, police said.

Police responded and could find no one fighting. They went to McKinney’s home, which is about 450 feet south of the apartment complex, with about 200 feet of the separation area wooded.

McKinney acknowledged he had not seen a fight, only heard one, and police informed him he had heard children playing, police said.

Rainy weather conditions that day resulted in slick roads, “a hazardous condition to officers ... when responding to a time-critical, dangerous and potentially escalating report of a fight involving several people,” police said.

McKinney had twice before reported incidents at Orange Village that police determined were “unfounded,” police said.

In a complaint McKinney filed with the police department against Sgt. Jon Wilcox and patrolman Brad Davis, McKinney said he heard yelling, arguing and swearing coming from Orange Village, and called 911 when the “conflict continued to escalate and the language became more vulgar.”

He said he told the dispatcher he lived on the other side of woods and was unable to see what was taking place.

When police came to his home, Wilcox “charged” toward McKinney, pointing a finger and yelling, McKinney said.

Wilcox approached McKinney in a threatening manner and called his report “bogus,” McKinney said.

Wilcox’s yelling was so “intense” that it prompted two people inside McKinney’s home to come outside to see what was going on, McKinney said.

Wilcox and Davis would not listen to McKinney’s explanation, McKinney said.

In an email sent to McKinney in October, Police Chief Brian Blair said Wilcox had reported his own behavior prior to McKinney filing a complaint.

“His demeanor at the time was not of the norm and he was aware of that,” Blair said.

Blair said he could see how some people would consider Wilcox’s conduct “unprofessional.”

Wilcox violated department policy requiring him to perform his duties in an “efficient, courteous and orderly manner, employing patience and good judgment at all times,” Blair said.

In 15 years with Hermitage, the only previous complaint filed against Wilcox was for missing a court date, a situation brought on by a scheduling conflict, Blair said. The chief called Wilcox’s overall service record “exemplary.”

As part of the reprimand, Wilcox was counseled on dealing with the public, Blair said.

A condition of McKinney’s ARD is that he not call 911 unless he personally sees certain criminal activity or a motor vehicle accident.