18 DNR officers implicated in hunting on duty report

Jeffery FrischkornIn a scathing investigation that implicates 18 Ohio Division of Wildlife agents for hunting while on the clock, the Ohio Inspector General has issued a 20-page report on the alleged abuses.

Nearly two years ago the Inspector General investigated two Wildlife Division officers assigned to southwest Ohio. This investigation was launched to determined whether the law enforcement officers were hunting while on duty and if so, did they submit time slip reports in order to receive their pay.

When the investigation concluded that the two officers in fact had hunted while on duty and claimed the time both men were fired by the parent Ohio DNR.

However, in its 20-page report the Ohio Inspector General's office noted that it wanted to inquire further as to whether these two incidents were isolated or “were common occurrences in other parts of the state.”

In order to determine if this indeed was the case, the Inspector General requested not only time slip records from the Wildlife Division but also deer harvest data. These two sets of documents were then compared, the report notes.

While some of the documentation showed that a deer was taken while an individual was on duty, other data did not support that occurrence, the report says.

Likewise, some officers later changed their time slips to reflect they were not on duty at the time they killed a deer, the report also says.

“As a result of previous investigations, it has been determined that many wildlife officers did not follow ODNR communication policy of marking on duty at the beginning of their shift, off duty at the end of their shift, or provide hourly updates of the their status.

“Also, the Ohio Division of Wildlife does not audit or compare the number of hours marked as being on duty,” said the report on page Five.

In all, the report says, 11 of the officers “clearly harvested deer during their on-duty hours.”

And 12 officer harvested deer, “if they worked the number of hours they claimed,” says the report on pages 13 and 14.

“The total number of deer harvesting instances would be 23,” says the report also.

A second group, says the report, “did not follow the ODNR communication policy,” further citing that the agency is lax in its accounting of hours worked, when officers sign in and sign out.

“This lack of accountability and supervision along with the wildlife officers' compliance with the (ODNR's) communication policy is also an officer safety issue,” the report notes.

As for recommendations the Ohio Inspector General lists three. They include: review the actions of all employees to determine whether their conduct warrants further administrative action or training; review the Ohio Department of Administrative Services' time and attendance policy, and state of Ohio ethics laws with all personnel; and requires that supervisors audit work hours claimed by wildlife officers to assure accuracy and compliance with laws and policy.

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