SANDUSKY - Sandusky State Trooper Eric Wlodarsky, involved in a KKK prank, said he is not a racist, but admitted he was "counseled previously for racial gestures or slurs."
Wlodarsky used a cell phone camera to snap a photo of Trooper Craig Franklin wearing KKK-like garb while both were on duty at the post Jan. 20 just one day before Martin Luther King Day. Wlodarsky then forwarded the photo to Sgt. Jason Demuth of the Norwalk post.
"For me to take a demotion is a huge pay cut," Wlodarsky told the Sandusky Register. "I hold nothing against any race."
He was demoted April 3 from sergeant to trooper. He was transferred to Norwalk, can never be assigned to Sandusky and must attend diversity awareness training. Wlodarsky estimated the pay cut will cost him about $12,000 a year.
Wlodarsky and Franklin were both recommended for termination by Henry Guzman, the state's director of public safety, but remain on the job because of a collective bargaining agreement.
Franklin received a five-day unpaid suspension and was ordered to seek diversity awareness training. Demuth was suspended for one day.
An audio recording from the investigation indicates Wlodarsky was counseled for a November 2006 incident while he was a Mansfield assistant post commander. Another trooper said Wlodarsky failed to respond for back-up on a traffic stop of a car carrying a group of black males and instead delivered Cleveland Browns tickets to an off-duty trooper.
When the on-duty trooper asked Wlodarsky by phone why he didn't respond, Wlodarsky said: "We can't send an officer to back up another every time we stop a carload of niggers. What would the motoring public think?"
During a July 2007 administrative investigation, Wlodarsky admitted making the comment to a dispatcher, but said he didn't use the n-word. The trooper who made the allegations told the Register he has since been fired for untruthfulness.
"He (Wlodarsky) said used the word 'blacks' and is very conscious to use not to use the other word, although he does say it. Sgt. Wlodarsky said there were no witnesses to this conversation," according to the administrative investigation filed by Sgt. Jeffrey P. Bernard.