Akron lieutenant demoted for having sex on the job, using police-issued handcuffs for fun
An Akron police lieutenant who was second in command in his patrol platoon has been demoted and suspended without pay following an internal investigation into sex acts while on the job.
Lt. Edward Patalon’s two-rank demotion to officer and 90-day unpaid leave also come with an $18,741 reduction in his annual salary of $93,122, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett’s office confirmed Wednesday. Patalon, who must forfeit the next 480 hours of pay, is off the job until late April.
Mylett signed paperwork Friday approving the discipline, which is the most severe issued since he became chief in 2021.
Hired in 1999, Patalon was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant in June. He’s now back down to officer following three substantiated charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and abuse of his taxpayer-funded time on the job.
An internal investigation by the department's Office of Professional Standards and Accountability (OPSA) found that Patalon had consensual sex with his now ex-fiancé at his Akron house while on the job. He also photographed and texted images of his penis while in uniform at police headquarters or on assignment. The final charge involved wearing his uniform and using his police-issued handcuffs while engaging in “cosplay” — or costume play — with his now ex-fiancé.
Patalon initially did not admit the frequency and scope of his activity when questioned by investigators. He has since accepted the discipline with no indication that he would appeal the decision, a police official said.
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Capt. Dave Laughlin with the department’s public relations office said Patalon’s personnel file contains no complaints or discipline of a similar nature. In his nearly 24-year career in Akron, Patalon has received two complaints: from a person evicted in 2019 and in 2021 for an attendance issue.
Text and voice messages seeking comment from Patalon were left with Clay Cozart, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Akron Lodge No. 7. Cozart was present this month when internal affairs officers questioned him at the police headquarters.
Chief Mylett said the department's standards forbid any officer from activity that impairs their ability to perform their duties or dishonors the force.
“When this officer engaged in this unacceptable behavior, he did not hold himself to this standard, and his actions were not in alignment with the principles and values of our agency," Mylett said in a statement emailed to the Beacon Journal. "As a direct result of his actions, he was held accountable and severely disciplined.”
Ex-fiancé's complaint uncovers misconduct
The situation originated from a complaint the ex-fiancé filed with Police Auditor Phil Young, who forwarded the matter to the OPSA.
In the complaint, the ex-fiancé said the two started dating in February 2021 when Patalon lived in Mogadore. He later moved to a house in Firestone Park and the two got engaged in June 2022. She told investigators she ended the relationship in October.
The woman provided police with five photos of a penis she said she could identify as Patalon's. An investigator checked the timestamps on the text messages, as well as backgrounds like the unique tile pattern of the bathroom floor at the police headquarters, and determined that the photographs were taken and sent while Patalon was working.
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“I asked him if he was aware at the time that the photos … would be damaging to the police department if they became public,” an OPSA investigator wrote in the report. “He said yes.”
Patalon told investigators that his ex-fiancé requested that he take and send each of the explicit photographs while they were in a relationship and that he never intended for them to become public. He also admitted “that some of his conduct is embarrassing and he is regretful of that,” the investigator wrote.
Patalon said he “is proud of how he has handled other parts of the breakup, such as returning her property,” the investigator wrote. “Lt. Patalon said that the only reason we are sitting here today is because [his ex-fiancé] was blackmailing him.”
The Beacon Journal could not reach the woman who filed the complaint using telephone numbers listed for her in a database of public records.
Akron police officer can't recall details
According to a summary of his interview, Patalon initially said he could not recall how many times he texted penis photographs.
Then, he conceded there could have been more than 20 instances. He originally said he could only remember one photo in which he was in uniform or on duty. He was shown two photos taken in the police bathroom and admitted it could have been more than once.
He also admitted to photographing his penis while working in uniform on a side job at a behavioral health facility in Akron.
Patalon also said that he didn’t remember having sex on the job.
“Maybe on a lunch," the investigator recounted the officer saying, “but he didn’t remember.”
“Lt. Patalon said that he anticipated this question [about sex on the clock] being asked and he had been thinking about it a lot. He said that he could not even be sure … that it happened because he just could not remember,” the investigator wrote in the report.
Patalon didn’t disagree that he had sex while working. He disagreed that it happened the 10 to 12 times his ex-fiancé reported. The woman told investigators on the phone and in person that she knew Patalon was on the job because he would park a cruiser in front of his house and show up in full uniform. He would take off his body-worn camera but keep his radio close in case called to an emergency, she said, according to investigators.
The woman reported that Patalon let her wear his uniform, body armor, body camera and police hat. She would dress up in a police officer’s costume, pretending to be a rookie. A photo she provided to investigators showed Patalon in his uniform and her in costume. The two are attached by his police-issued handcuffs.
“It should be noted that the OPSA investigation also shows that these actions were purely consensual and the potential violation is related to the wearing of the uniform only,” the investigator wrote on that particular charge.
On all three accounts, Patalon was found to have violated three department rules: failing “to devote all time to police business;” wearing his uniform while off-duty; and engaging in “activity which impairs their ability to perform their duties or causes the department to be brought into disrepute.”
“I'm disappointed by the behavior of this particular officer,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said in a statement emailed to the Beacon Journal.
The mayor also signed off on the disciplinary actions.
“These actions are simply unacceptable and do not live up to the high expectations we all have of our public safety officials," he said. "I know the APD leadership team takes citizen complaints seriously and I support the discipline action which they have taken in this case.”
Reach reporter Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron police lieutenant demoted for having sex on the job