Thursday, January 29, 2004

Twitty's conviction
erased from the record

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A judge erased a misdemeanor conviction from former assistant Cincinnati police chief Ron Twitty's criminal record Wednesday.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Beth Myers expunged Twitty's conviction for lying to police during an investigation in 2002.

In making her decision, Myers said Twitty's right to privacy outweighed the public's right to know about his past.

As part of a plea agreement, Twitty pleaded no contest to the charge and agreed to leave the police department to end the criminal case against him over damage to his city-owned car. At the time he stepped down, Twitty was the highest-ranking African-American officer in the police department.

Myers cited past cases in which officers charged with crimes more serious than Twitty's had their records sealed. And, she said, Twitty's case had been repeatedly covered in the media and the information already reported remains in the public domain.

Twitty was not present during the short hearing, but said later he was pleased.

"I didn't ask for special treatment, just what everyone else does," he said.

In 2003, 2221 records were sealed in Hamilton County Court -- the most in the past five years, according to statistics from the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Office.

Twitty said if he could have afforded the pay the legal fees to take the case to trial in 2002, he would have fought the charges.

"But if I won I would have been financially ruined, if I lost I would have been financially ruined," he said. "I was only going to stay (on the department) two more years anyway."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen fought the expungement, saying the public has a right to know about Twitty's past. He declined comment on Myers' decision.

A clean record will allow Twitty to seek another law enforcement job, if he chooses.

He said he has been offered jobs in law enforcement, but declined to name any departments that have contacted him. He said he's considering several options, again declining to provide details.

Twitty said that whatever his future career holds, he will continue to work to be a prominent presence in burgeoning grassroots crime-fighting efforts in Cincinnati neighborhoods.

Twitty vowed to get involved in such efforts after his stepson was shot to death in Bond Hill.


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