Officer Suspended In Inmate's Suicide Morrisville Council Members Cited Procedures That Weren't Followed When Rodney Glenn, In Custody In May, Hanged Himself In A Borough Jail Cell.

Posted: July 10, 1997

MORRISVILLE — A borough police officer has been suspended for 10 days following the death of an inmate who hanged himself in his cell in May.

Officer Wayne Apice, a 10-year veteran of the force, was on duty when Rodney Glenn, 27, of Bristol, hanged himself in the borough police station. Glenn had been arrested for trying to steal a woman's purse.

It is the first punishment connected with the suicide. However, Borough Council members said they might consider additional discipline within the Police Department. Glenn's family filed an intent to sue document in court on June 12.

``There were procedures [Apice] did not follow,'' said Charles Grabowski, president of the Borough Council.

Council members at their Tuesday meeting said Apice had erred in not checking the cell every 15 minutes, according to regulations, and in leaving Glenn's belt and shoes where he could reach them. They voted, 7-0, to suspend Apice without pay.

Apice could not be reached for comment.

According to police, Glenn was placed in a cell at the station about 9:25 a.m. on May 29 to await fingerprinting and processing. Police checked on Glenn at 9:45, but he was found hanging from his belt at 10:07 a.m. and was pronounced dead later in the morning.

District Attorney Alan Rubenstein had said there was no criminal misconduct, but did say Morrisville could discipline the officer.

Grabowski said the council was discussing whether to discipline Police Chief Victor Cicero and Lt. Thomas Heron.

Cicero declined comment yesterday.

Council member John Engelberger said he thought the procedures, and not Apice, were to blame. Apice followed practices that were generally used in the department, Engelberger said.

``I think the officer was a scapegoat and the Police Department was faced with the fact one of the prisoners died,'' Engelberger said.

Engelberger, who left the council meeting early because of a death in the family, said he would have voted against the suspension.

Grabowski called the sanction ``adequate,'' noting officers who are caught sleeping on duty or who recklessly handle police cars receive half as much punishment.

Board member Nancy Sherlock said she opposed disciplining Apice's superiors.

``No malice was done by the officer. It was accidental, and there was no intentional harm,'' Sherlock said. ``Still, he was in charge of the prisoner and during that time the prisoner managed to hang himself. Because of that reason he has to be disciplined.''

William Goldstein, attorney for the Glenn family, said there had been no final decision whether to sue the borough. He said he had no comment on Apice's suspension.

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