AKRON, Ohio – A police officer secretly recorded his actions and conversations for about 15 years because his supervisor red-flagged him for repeatedly using force and getting a high number of citizen complaints, according to public records obtained by an Ohio newspaper.
The Akron officer, Donald Schismenos, resigned in 2013, more than two years after thousands of hours of his video and audio were found on a police computer. He used a pen camera and a dashboard camera, and the recordings included his interactions with the public and his supervisors.
Schismenos told investigators he made the recordings to protect himself, worrying he might face internal investigations or retaliation from superiors for filing complaints about them, the Akron Beacon Journal (http://bit.ly/1vPn6a3 ) reported Friday. The newspaper requested and obtained a variety of records related to the case, including recorded interviews of Schismenos by officers conducting an internal investigation.
"I was pretty concerned about being red-flagged, being concerned about, I don't even know if you want to call it paranoia, but about high law, superior officers going to investigate me," Schismenos said. "So at times, I did record."
The files were discovered because they took up more than one-quarter of the available storage on a police server, slowing the system.
Schismenos and his attorney haven't commented on the investigation.
The U.S. Justice Department reviewed his conduct for possible civil rights violations, and a spokesman says no action is being taken against him.
Last year, the city dismissed nearly 100 open or unresolved traffic and misdemeanor criminal cases filed by Schismenos, some as old as 1993. It also hired an outside law firm to review thousands of files Schismenos created and has spent more than $115,000 on that.
"The process is a lengthy one because the amount of data is so immense," Law Director Cheri Cunningham wrote to the newspaper.
The ex-officer's recordings including some where he swears or makes threats while complaining about his superiors in conversations with colleagues. He told investigators those comments, such as one in which he says he'll set fire to the department, were made in frustration and shouldn't be taken seriously.
"It was a joke, obviously," he later told investigators. "I'm not a felon. I'm not a criminal."
His recordings also included images of arrests that typically would be tagged as evidence and shown to defense attorneys. Last year, prosecutors undertook more work to identify and notify those defendants or their representatives.
Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com