A police officer in South Charleston, Ohio, has been suspended after someone snapped a photo of him allegedly sleeping on the job and posted the photo to social media.
WDTN News originally ran a story yesterday about a photo, said to have been sent to the news outlet by a “tipster.” The photo appeared to show an officer sleeping in a South Charleston patrol car.
At that time, the photo had been posted to social media and was being shared by users, according to WDTN.
Chief Brian Redish declined to be interviewed on camera about the photograph and did not name the officer, calling the incident a departmental affair. But he did issue a statement calling the photograph “an embarrassment.”
“The officer has been suspended and the matter is being looked into,” Redish said.
South Charleston has a small police department, with only six part-time officers, a sergeant and the chief listed on staff, according to WDTN. The department also has an auxiliary program with 12 listed officers.
In a June 2 follow-up story, WDTN named the officer in the photo.
The news outlet had reportedly received a letter, addressed to Officer Michael Shah, and signed by Redish and the City Manager.
“You are hereby being disciplined for conduct that violates the accepted standards for an employee of the South Charleston Police Department,” the letter reads.
The letter cites the photograph and says “the photograph looks as if you are sleeping in the cruiser.”
The letter goes on to state that Shah later admitted to a supervisor that he fell asleep.
According to the letter, Shah received a formal write-up and will be suspended for three days.
The disciplinary action will be part of Shah’s service record for one year.
WDTN posted both stories to its Facebook page and many readers there came to the officer’s defense.
“Everybody has to sometimes take a moment to reflect or clear their head,” wrote user Bill Jarrett. “I don't see where a photo is a big deal.”
“What? You've never been tired,” wrote Cindy Askew.
But others were not as forgiving.
“How many of you would be singing a different tune if while said officer was sleeping on duty your family was being robbed or murdered?” wrote user Jeremy Earles.
Photo Credit: WDTN News