EXCLUSIVE: LORAIN, OH (WOIO) - The Department of Justice is coming to Northeast Ohio and they want answers about abuse in the Lorain Police Department.
The feds want citizen complaints, hospital reports of prisoner abuse and use of force reports. [Click HERE to read the leaked letter from the Justice Department making demands for more records from Lorain]
The federal investigation of the Lorain Police Department has been going on for 18 months. In that time, several officers have been fired, one jailed. Some believe it is the tip of the iceberg. The two sides will meet in Cleveland on Thursday at the U.S. Attorney's Office, but it may not be what Lorain expected.
The inside of courtrooms have become familiar to several Lorain police officers. Officer Jesus Sanchez guilty of menacing by stalking. The verdict cost the city $175,000 when his victim, Sara Long, won a civil suit this year.
"It's a culture, it's an environment created within that department," said Long's Attorney, Michael Duff.
Officer Stanley Marrero was found guilty of public indecency, dereliction of duty and intimidation of a witness after he went to a woman's house, dropped his pants and asked for oral sex.
Some allegations involve officers, on duty, carrying weapons. Most allegations have been handled internally and that bothers the feds. A crime that would result in an average citizen being charged with rape got one officer a three-days suspension.
Lorain officials are anxious to defend the police department and they'll get that chance before the Feds, but they are faced with a double-edged sword. Defend the department, but at the same time, face demands for more documents. Dozens of documents covering abuse over more years.
The new demand covers all of 2009 up until today. The city must produce use of force records, injuries to suspects, complaints, lawsuits and more.
A federal judge cited a deposition by Chief Cel Rivera where he admitted to 11 cases where officers were simply disciplined not charged with crimes. The judge called the city's attitude indifferent.
19 Action News Reporter Paul Orlousky spoke to Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko who, along with Chief Rivera and the Safety Director will meet with the Feds. He passed the ball to Law Director Patrick Riley for comment. He hasn't returned the call.