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Stryker Police Chief Suspended After Killing Stray Cats




Steven D. Schlosser, 42, chief of the Stryker Police Department, was given a two-week suspension without pay after he and Stryker PD officers, acting on his orders, killed possibly stray cats trapped in the Williams County village.

Stryker Village Council voted to levy the suspension against Schlosser following a public hearing at its Monday, June 10 meeting.

Schlosser entered a nocontest plea on May 24 to a charge of violating state laws concerning treatment of companion animals, by needlessly killing them, in Bryan Municipal Court.

The description of companion animals includes any dog or cat.

He was fined $500, plus $79 in court costs.

To avoid conflicts of interest, a Fulton County sheriff deputy conducted the investigation.

David Grahn, Napoleon, an attorney, was appointed special prosecutor.

John T. Rohrs III, Defiance municipal court judge, heard the case against Schlosser. Cats

Witness statements obtained by this newspaper indicate that in June 2012, a Stryker resident complained about a large number of stray cats in and around the 400 block of Washington Street.

One couple on Washington Street was feeding the cats, putting out 35 pounds of cat food per month.

Schlosser said he spoke to Lisa Stalter, Williams County Humane Society agent, who told him if the Stryker PD turned captured stray cats over to the county Humane Society, they would be spayed or neutered for $30 each.

Schlosser said he jokingly told her the cost of a .22 caliber bullet is much less than $30.

Schlosser said Stalter told him that as long as captured cats were killed humanely, Stryker police could use a firearm.

However, in an interview, Stalter told the Archbold Buckeye she didn’t speak to Schlosser until much later.

In response to the June complaint, Schlosser said police used their live trap to trap four cats.

On his orders, the cats were taken to Knight’s Landing, along the Tiffin River, and shot in the head with a department-owned .22-caliber rifle.

The carcasses were tossed along the riverbank, or thrown in the river, to decay.

Confusion

Schlosser said his policy was to “dispatch” stray cats with the .22, as he believed turning a stray cat loose in the wild was not humane.

However, a Stryker PD officer said officers were told the policy was to release the cats at Knight’s Landing.

Cats that were sick, injured, or vicious were to be “dispatched” after checking for collars or any indication of being a pet.

Stryker police received another complaint of stray cats, again on Washington Street, on Jan. 17, 2013.

This time, Schlosser and Stalter investigated the case.

He said Stalter told him based on her observations, some of the cats were very sick, while another appeared pregnant.

Friday, Jan. 18, another stray cat complaint was received from a Washington Street resident.

Schlosser said, “Over the course of the following weekend, our department ‘dispatched’ approximately 10 to 12 stray cats.”

Sammy

Things began to unravel on Jan. 24, when Carol Feehan, a Washington Street resident, and Stryker council member learned SPD was shooting trapped cats.

Feehan and Schlosser agreed that, prior to Jan. 24, Feehan had told him two of the cats, one of which was named Sammy, were hers, but she had not placed collars on them, and did not keep them inside.

Feehan said she told Schlosser she wanted to see any cats that were trapped to determine if they were hers.

She said Schlosser, who has known her since childhood, did not comply.

Hearing

About 40 persons crowded the village council chambers Monday night for the public hearing on Schlosser’s actions.

Pete Lowe III, a management consult to the village, conducted the questioning of witnesses, arguing that the chief of police should be held to a higher standard than average citizens and noting that Schlosser had been convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, the highest of misdemeanor crimes.

Response

In his response, Schlosser pointed out he was not acting maliciously, nor targeting anyone’s pet cat with his program of “trap and dispatch.”

He told the council he agreed to plead “no contest” to the animal cruelty charge because Grahn had threatened him with additional charges, and Grahn pledged to charge other members of the department with animal cruelty if Schlosser did not agree to plead to the single charge.

Plus, Schlosser said Grahn has a daughter who lives in Stryker who had been involved in “numerous situations” that were documented in police files.

He said Grahn’s daughter had filed a complaint against him with Daniel Hughes, Stryker mayor.

“So it so happens her father is the prosecutor. That’s fine, any prosecutor can prosecute any person,” Schlosser said.

Pleading no contest to the charge “went against every moral fiber in my body,” but he said he did not want officers under his command to suffer from his decision.

Vote

To discipline Schlosser, the punishment would have to be put in the form of a motion, and four of six council members had to agree.

A motion to suspend Schlosser for 60 days failed, as did a motion to dismiss the charges against him.

In the end, council unanimously voted to approve the two-week suspension.

Hughes, a former Stryker police chief, said Schlosser will be allowed to serve his suspension one day per week, to avoid placing him in financial hardship.

After the meeting, Schlosser said he believed the process was fair.

“I screwed up in disposal of the animals,” he said.

“Absolutely, I discarded them improperly. I should have contacted someone to get some guidance on that,” he said.



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