Rossford officer resigns after woman says he used police database to ID her
A Rossford police officer resigned Tuesday, a day after a woman said he followed her and used a police database to identify her and then message her on social media.
State investigators have been called in to determine if Glenn Goss, Jr., the son of Rossford’s former police chief, misused the police database to identify the woman. He submitted his resignation prior to city officials completing an administrative review.
Emily Hackler, 21, said she was on her way home from the gym on Monday when she noticed a black truck following her from Crossroads Parkway as she took a right onto State Rt. 795. On Lime City Road the truck sped up to catch up to her, she said, though it eventually turned down a side street.
A few hours later, she received a message on Facebook from Glenn Goss, Jr., a man she didn’t know, saying, “Had fun racing you on Crossroads and 795 earlier.”
Ms. Hackler asked who he was, and Mr. Goss responded with a picture of himself in his police uniform, followed by comments about her appearance. He said he figured out who she was once he got to work by her “Plate #.”
“It’s an invasion of privacy for sure. He was in his personal vehicle. You’re not allowed to stop or look up anyone’s information without probable cause, so the fact that he was not in his official work vehicle, it got me thinking, ‘How did this happen? Why did he search my plate number to get my information?’ It did make me feel very uneasy,” she said.
Ms. Hackler posted the conversation with Officer Goss on Facebook Monday, and it has since gone viral with more than 25,000 shares and 4,600 comments. It also was noticed by Rossford City officials, who placed Officer Goss on administrative leave at 9:30 p.m. Monday.
While the city immediately initiated an administrative investigation into the allegations, Officer Goss submitted his resignation prior to the investigation’s completion. Despite his resignation, the city concluded there were grounds for termination and results of the investigation and termination recommendation will remain in his personnel file, according to the city.
City officials met on Tuesday morning regarding Officer Goss’ potential misuse of the database system, and the investigation has been turned over to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for a criminal investigation, according to Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III.
“We wanted to take it out of the department itself. We first looked at the Wood County Sheriff to do the investigation, but Glenn, Jr., had worked there in the past, so we thought this was most transparent and generous way to do an investigation,” Mr. MacKinnon said.
The Findlay post of the State Highway Patrol will be investigating the incident, according to the mayor.
Police cruisers have mobile data terminals, similar to laptops, that provide information through Law Enforcement Data System, or LEADS, and the Northwest Ohio Regional Information System, said Rossford Police Chief Todd Kitzler.
LEADS provides data available statewide, while NORIS links area law enforcement, courts, probation, and other areas of the criminal justice system to follow an offender’s process. Officers may use such systems for on-the-job searches for a person’s driving record or criminal history.
Chief Kitzler said officers do not have access to the systems in their personal vehicles or while they are off-duty.
“I’m disappointed, that’s my feeling right now. But I don’t want to jump to any conclusions until the investigation is done. It’s a very serious allegation, and if you want my feelings, I’m disappointed,” Chief Kitzler said.
Using the system for personal benefit or for nonwork-related purposes is against the law, Mr. MacKinnon said.
“It looks like one of our officers made a huge lapse in judgment but overall I’m very proud of the Rossford Police Department and the officers,” Mr. MacKinnon said.
Another woman, Taylor Yarder, 26, said she was stopped by Officer Goss last summer for speeding. While she said the officer was professional during the stop, she later received a Facebook message from him. She said she believes he had gone through a list of her friends to find her, she told The Blade.
“Can’t believe you got a break...” the officer starts off in the conversation. Ms. Yarder asked if she was in trouble.
“You were almost in trouble,” the officer responds. “The next person I stopped wasn’t so lucky haha.”
When Ms. Yarder didn’t respond, the officer apologized, and she did not hear from him again, she said.
She didn’t report the incident to the police department initially, though she saved the messages. Ms. Yarder said she would be reporting it to the Rossford Police Department after seeing Ms. Hackler’s post.
“It needs to stop. If it happened to me and this girl, it’s happening to more. I don’t feel safe or protected by these men, I feel harassed,” she said.
Both Ms. Hackler and Ms. Yarder reported the incidents to Rossford officials. The mayor said he knew of three complaints total, though officials declined to discuss the third allegation.
“I don’t want to comment on that just now because we’re just initiating the investigation, but we are aware of what’s on social media. We know that there were obviously two posts so that will all be parts of the investigation,” said Kent Murphree, assistant city law director.
If someone has a complaint against an officer, they may do so in person at the police station, or they may fill out a form that can be found on the department’s website. There is also detailed information on how to go about filing a complaint.
“We take complaints seriously when they come to us, in any form, when they come to us,” Mr. Murphee said. “If there’s an allegation that potentially has merit, it will be investigated to a conclusion.”
The Blade attempted to reach Officer Goss by phone.
Officer Goss is the son of the former Rossford Police Chief, Glenn Goss, Sr. The younger Goss was sworn into office in June, 2016.
In July, 2018, the chief resigned from his position after almost seven years on the job. At that time, he said his decision was “directly related to affording his son, Glenn Goss, Jr., career opportunities that would potentially be limited as long as the senior Goss remained chief.”
According to the department’s officer list, the elder Goss continues to serve as an officer.