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Investigation could lead to termination for OU police officer

—Correction appended 

After three run-ins with police since he was hired in 1992, an Ohio University police officer — who remains on paid leave — could be legally fired.

OU Deputy Chief of Police Mark Mathews has been on paid leave since Dec. 9 after he was pulled over the previous day for speeding. Athens police neither arrested nor cited Matthews.

“The officers felt that an arrest was not warranted,” said Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle in a previous interview.

Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly said he experienced a similar situation to Mathews’ before with a deputy. Kelly put him on administrative leave while an investigation was conducted.

"Chief Powers has done nothing wrong and took the appropriate action," Kelly said.

The incident was not Mathews’ first alcohol-related traffic violation. A 2004 State Personnel Board of Review case mentions Mathews as being convicted of an OMVI charge and being placed on a three-day suspension in 2002.

The incident is missing from Mathews’ personnel file. OU Police Chief Andrew Powers said he had no prior knowledge of the incident and did not know why it was left out of the file, because he was not with the department in 2002.

In the Board of Review case, former OU police officer Travis Potts, who was fired after being convicted of assault, used Mathews’ OMVI conviction as a reason why he should not have been fired.

In the final report, Hearing Officer Elaine Stevenson pointed out that Ohio State Police had the authority to fire Potts under the Ohio Revised Code because he committed one or more offenses against the Ohio Revised Code statute, such as failure of good behavior or drunkenness.

Stevenson also wrote that Mathews’ punishment was “too lenient.”

Though the Board of Review case states that Mathews was convicted of an OMVI, he was merely charged with an OMVI, but pleaded no contest to charges of failure to control and speeding, according to the Athens County Municipal Court.

Mathews was also cited for a shoving match in an Uptown bar in 1993, which would be his third offense against the statute.

The investigation is still pending and Powers said he was unsure when it will be concluded.

Editor's Note: The original version of this article inaccurately attributed information to Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle. The Post regrets the error.

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