The Mentor Police Department Detective Bureau is under the command of Lieutenant Timothy Allen and Sergeant Richard Slovenkay who are directed by the Operations Commander, Ken Gunsch. They command five general duty detectives, one juvenile detective, two narcotics investigators, one school resource officer, and a secretary. The detective lieutenant and detective sergeant are responsible for the administration of the detective bureau, internal affairs investigations, school resource officer program, Safety Town program, narcotics investigations, evidence technician program, video forensic program, computer forensic program, the computerized voice stress analysis program and all other criminal investigations assigned to the detective bureau. The detective bureau also administers the program of registering armed security officers working in the city and conducting background investigations on applicants for positions within the police department.
The detective bureau secretary performs a myriad of tasks to keep the unit running efficiently. Beyond the normal clerical tasks associated with the unit, the secretary is responsible for communications with the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office, especially with the juvenile division. The secretary receives store reports of juvenile shoplifters handled by store security, and generates needed reports to refer the case to Juvenile Court. She types transcripts of interviews and interrogations. She also handles much of the work generated by the Mentor Public Schools and the school resource officer.
The detectives are responsible for follow-up on all assigned cases until such time the case can be cleared or satisfactorily closed. Cases can be cleared or closed by arrest, restitution to the victim, referral to the agency that has jurisdiction on the case, determining no crime was actually committed or exhausting all investigative leads. Detectives also are encouraged to self-initiate investigations from information developed from other means such as civilian contacts, confidential informants or referrals from other agencies. The Mentor Police Department is a member of SPAN, which consists of detectives from throughout Lake County, eastern Cuyahoga County and several state and federal agencies. This organization meets once a month to share information on investigations. Detectives are also responsible for assisting and supporting the patrol division in investigations when the need arises.
The Mentor Police Narcotics Unit has two detectives assigned to it. The unit actively engages in the gathering of intelligence information which often leads to information on narcotics related activity which is taking place in the City of Mentor. Many of their investigations take them beyond the city limits of Mentor and the unit has developed a very strong working relationship with the Lake County Narcotics Agency, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), and other federal agencies, which allows them to continue these investigations, or pass on the information.
The Narcotics Unit has also received training, along with several patrol officers, in Aggressive Criminal Enforcement. This unit is assigned, on a part time basis, to patrol interstate and state routes, aggressively enforce traffic laws, and look for indicators of more serious criminal activity. Seizure of contraband and appropriate arrest activity will serve to address the problem of illegal transport of these materials through Mentor.
Both members have also spent time working with and training patrol. Information passed on includes the latest drugs of abuse, methods of transporting contraband, and search and seizure issues. This has resulted in the increase of drug detection and arrests throughout the entire department.
Detective Edward Zigman and Crime Prevention Officer Jim Collier are certified as master criminal investigators by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. They frequently conduct training in several areas to both members of patrol and the detective bureau. This includes evidence technician training, interview and interrogation, and court room testimony.
The training function in the detective bureau is an ongoing priority. Personnel in the bureau continue to receive training in video analysis, photography (digital), internet investigation, Taser, criminal investigation, child abduction, CVSA, advanced narcotics investigations, and sexual assaults.
Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA)
There are five Detectives that are certified Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer operators. The CVSA is used as a tool in conducting criminal investigations and bringing them to a successful conclusion. The Mentor Police Department recently hosted a six day CVSA school at Wildwood Cultural Center.
Video Forensic Unit
This unit processes and enhances video from various sources. The unit operates a video forensic computer system utilizing Avid software. Detective Brian Haller and Detective Colleen Petro are currently trained in this system’s use. This is the only system of its kind in Lake County, resulting in numerous requests from other departments and city and county prosecutors for video projects. Video projects are used in identifying suspects from video and hopefully aid in their successful prosecution. This system also allows for enhanced still photos from videos to be distributed to media outlets and other law enforcement agencies to aid in the identification of suspects.
The Mentor Police and Fire Departments conduct joint investigations into arson and other suspicious fires within the City of Mentor. Combining the expertise of trained fire investigators and the investigatory expertise of the detective bureau, the joint arson investigation unit has had an extremely successful conviction rate in these cases.
Computer Forensic Unit
This unit forensically processes computers and other electronic devices to obtain evidence of computer related crimes. The crimes can include child pornography or any other purpose a computer could be used to facilitate a crime. The department works with the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force for training and assistance with examinations. Officer Kupchik attended a national computer crimes conference sponsored by the Secret Service in Orlando, Fl. The cost of the conference was paid for by the Secret Service. Officer Kupchik is the department’s only officer trained in this field.
School Resource Officer Program
The SRO works at the high school and interacts with the students, faculty, and school administration. He provides a law enforcement figure students can approach for information, guidance or help. The SRO is responsible for investigating crimes and complaints that are committed on school property, and making arrests when appropriate. The SRO also aids in seeing that school board rules and guidelines are followed, and teaches some classes that are law enforcement related.
The SRO serves as as an asset to the police department by obtaining intelligence on crimes and potential problems involving juveniles. Quarterly meetings with other SRO’s in area have also been established for information and idea sharing purposes.
Safety Town Program
Safety Town is a program sponsored by the Junior Women’s Club of Mentor. Safety Town teaches young children basic personal and community skills such as fire prevention, traffic rules, stranger awareness, and domestic safety just to name a few. The SRO conducts this program during the summer months, and interacts with several hundred children yearly.