A Public Safety officer has been fired after surveillance video showed him taking stacks of The Chimes from their distribution box in the Saylor-Ackermann lobby while on duty; the copies were later found by Chimes staff members in the recycling bin.
According to Chief Frank Fernandez of Public Safety, Officer Ryan George appeared on video around 6 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25 taking the stack of papers from the distribution box outside Cap Grounds in the Saylor-Ackermann lobby.
Fernandez confirmed that George was on duty during the incident.
George was also seen on video near the Battelle distribution box, but was not seen taking the papers from that location, according to Fernandez.
Because of the limited coverage of surveillance cameras, the trashed papers at other locations could not be officially connected to George.
The Chimes has requested the surveillance video, but has not received it as of press time.
After Fernandez reviewed the video last Monday, Oct. 28, George was suspended from his position. After George did not deny the allegations in an interview with Public Safety, George was dismissed from the police force Friday, Nov. 1.
George has been with the university since March of 2017.
Chimes staff members noticed the missing papers around noon Friday, Oct. 25. Papers were gone from distribution boxes in Yochum Hall, Battelle Hall, the Student Union and Saylor-Ackermann Hall, and were seen in trash and recycling bins nearby at least three locations. Over 700 papers were thrown away or recycled.
When the news broke about the missing papers, Fernandez said he warned officers that disciplinary action would be taken if one of them was responsible, but he didn’t expect it to end up being one of them.
“No police chief wants to be part of this conversation regarding one of their officers,” he said.
Fernandez said that the community’s trust and respect are some of the biggest tools Public Safety has, and without it “it’s going to be hard for us to do our job.”
“On behalf of the police department, I’m sorry that this even happened,” he said. “ … We’re going to be working harder now to rebuild that trust from our community and the relationships with all the groups and individuals that we serve.”
During his interview with Public Safety about the situation, Fernandez said Ryan apologized to The Chimes, the university and the other officers in Public Safety. He also made it clear he was acting alone.
“That was definitely out of his character; I couldn’t believe it,” Fernandez said. “It still blows my mind that this happened.”
At this time, The Chimes staff has decided not to press charges.
UPDATE 7:22 p.m.: Chief Fernandez clarified that Officer George was dismissed from the police force, not terminated from his position as stated in the initial interview. The story has been updated to reflect this information.