MOUNT VERNON — Robert “Kit” Morgan started his career in law enforcement in the jail division of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and has served the citizens of Mount Vernon since 1999. A look into his personnel file by the News finds Morgan was a qualified officer who was respected by his supervisors.
Morgan took the Ohio Peace Officer Training Course and was sworn in as a special deputy with the sheriff’s office on March 21, 1997. In May of the same year, he was hired by the department in the jail division. According to his personnel file, acquired by a public records request, Morgan received a 79 out of 100 possible points on the only evaluation in his file. The report portrayed Morgan as an officer with enthusiasm, initiative and superior work ethics.
“Quite frankly, I would prefer not to lose Robert Morgan as an employee of the sheriff ’s office,” said then Sheriff David Barber in an employee record check from the Mount Vernon Police Department.
Morgan became a patrolman with the MVPD on July 19, 1999, and garnered favorable evaluations that show consistent improvement over the course of his employment with the city.
Out of 90 possible points on the evaluation, Morgan started his time with the city with a score of 61. The number realized a steady increase through 2010, where he scored an 81. No evaluations were available for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2011 or 2012.
During the first few years, Morgan earned good marks on efficiency, cooperation, appearance, dependability and knowledge of work. He was characterized as a good team member, accepted extra responsibilities and needed little supervision.
However, it was noted that he needed to improve his “people skills.” According to the evaluation for 2000, Morgan often addressed the public in close proximity.
“He needs to keep an arms length approach to people — seems to get into people’s comfort zone — can be dangerous and annoying. Driving and radio skills need improvement,” the evaluation stated.
In 2001, it was noted that Morgan was top in the department for self-initiated activity. However, two entries offer conflicting reports as to his judgment.
“Usually has sound judgment,” appears under the judgment section of the report, but under job limitations, it was stated that he “lacks good judgment at times.”
In 2002, then Capt. Mike Merrilees gave Morgan a score of 74 and noted he “can be quick to judge (not always a bad thing)” and “a little temper (but rare).”
Throughout the remaining years, Morgan is described as competent, consistent, courteous, has a desire for promotion and exceeds expectations.
In 2008, Morgan was promoted to corporal. His evaluation for that year said he worked well with others in the department, but “sometimes talks down to officers not in his peer group (junior officers).” His limitation that year included his ability to work with younger officers and his evaluator suggested he needed more patience with the younger troops.
Concerns with Morgan’s relationship with lower ranks continued in 2009. However, his supervisor stated, “I would follow him in a crisis situation.”
Morgan was promoted to sergeant on Nov. 21, 2012. He has since been appointed detective sergeant.
There are two articles of discipline in Morgan’s file with the city, one verbal warning and one written reprimand.
“[Morgan] did fail to devote full time and attention to duty and conduct unbecoming an officer. Was out of the car for approx. 1/2 hour without signing off and was engaging in ‘horseplay’ with female employee of [Marathon on West High Street],” the report stated.
In 2006, Morgan was given a verbal warning for removing a parking meter bag without prior approval. The incident, according to the report, was considered “discourteous treatment of the public.”
In accordance to the Fraternal Order of Police contract, the reprimand was removed from his permanent file after one year because he did not receive additional disciplinary actions within that period. Both reports were released as part of a public records request because the Ohio Public Records Act supersedes any collective bargaining agreement.
Morgan and police chief Mike Merrilees are the focus of an ongoing investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, a division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. City administration maintains it is not necessary to place the two on an administrative leave while the investigation takes place.
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