Former Laurelville Police Officer Arrested On Drug Charges

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A former Laurelville police officer who was terminated last week for failing to report to work after taking an injury leave in June was arrested on charges of possession of heroin and possession of drug instruments.

Ronnie Gillispie, 25, of Laurelville, was traveling in a 2005 Saturn minivan along U.S. 23 near North Court Street in Pickaway County Monday when troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol pulled over the vehicle for having a broken tail light.

After criminal indicators were observed, a trooper asked to search the vehicle and allegedly found three doses of heroin. Also charged was Romey Davis, 29, of Circleville. Both men were taken to Pickaway County Jail.

On Tuesday, Laurelville Police Chief Mike Berkemeier told The Logan Daily News that a decision to terminate Gillispie’s employment was made last week after he failed to report to work following an injury leave in June.

Gillispie reportedly packed a powder gun with ammunition to fire, but it backfired and caused severe injury to fingers on his hand.

“He hasn’t worked for three months,” Berkemeier said Tuesday. “He was technically still employed here until about a week ago. It took several weeks to make sure we had our T’s crossed and I’s dotted. After some time and discussion, the decision was made by my boss [Laurelville Mayor Jason Hettinger and Laurelville Council President Don Kempton], in conjunction with my input, to terminate his position last week, officially.”

Berkemeier said he had no prior knowledge of Gillispie’s alleged heroin habit until his arrest on Monday.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to catch him in the act. I have no knowledge of him using illegal drugs prior to this whatsoever. And someone who is using heroin, it’s a pretty obvious thing and there are physical signs of it,” he said.

“He was one of the only officers that I had that I kind of inherited from the previous administration,” he said, adding that other than occasionally showing up late for his scheduled shift, there were no other discipline problems with Gillispie.

Although rumors have spread throughout the Laurelville community about acts Gillispie allegedly committed, Berkemeier said his hands were tied because no formal complaints were ever made with his office.

In order to investigate a crime, he said, a formal complaint must be made, but no one in the small village was willing to come forward.

Now, Berkemeier says he would like to drug test his officers before they’re hired, which is a process that isn’t currently happening.

“I wish we had [drug tested] earlier because we would know if there was a problem earlier than this, as to whether or not there was something going on,” he said.

Gillispie worked at the Laurelville Police Department for approximately two years.

“I have an extremely able and professional crew of employees, and my officers all do a good job and I have had no problems with any of them. I guess I can say this is a black eye on law enforcement when an officer, whether a former officer or not, (is charged with a crime). Someone who has held that position knows better, and I’m glad that we made the decision to terminate him before any of this became our problem,” Berkemeier said.

“My fear is this will reflect poorly on this department,” he added. “We have no control over what someone does after they leave, and unfortunately he made the wrong decision.”