Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan says it's a criminal investigation that led to his surprise call Sunday to Chief of Police James Nice to resign -- and not the death of a teenager Friday in the backseat of a police cruiser of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Nice delivered a terse 30 word resignation letter around 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Mayor Horrigan told reporters this afternoon he had been informed by police higher-ups that the Chief was part of an investigation involving his nephew, Joseph Nice of Uniontown, who is under indictment relating to his auto sales business. The case involved possible criminal misconduct by Nice, city officials said, including making derogatory comments and inappropriate conduct with city employees.
The City says it will turn the information over to the Summit County Prosecutor, but wouldn't provide more information or a timeline.
Joseph Nice of Uniontown was indicted for grand theft and forgery in March of this year. His criminal case is being heard by Judge Jason Wells in Summit County Common Pleas Court. The nephew Nice is also listed in numerous civil lawsuits in Summit County, including lawsuits alleging fraud and breach of contract for the sale of automobiles through Metro ACC Car Sales on Waterloo Road.
Below is the statement released from the Office of Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan regarding the resignation of former Chief James Nice:
Akron, Ohio, August 28, 2017 – Mayor Horrigan formally asked for, and accepted, the resignation of City of Akron Police Chief James Nice effective Sunday, August 27th, 2017. Evidence of conduct unbecoming of an officer, inappropriate contact with a city employee and potential criminal misconduct led him to make this immediate decision. The City will be referring any and all information regarding potential criminal conduct to the County Prosecutor.
Mayor Horrigan stated, “These actions violate the mission, vision and values of the Akron Police Department and the City of Akron and they will not be tolerated. All of us who serve the public must hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethics and integrity. It is clear to me, that in this instance, Jim Nice’s conduct violated that standard, and he lost his ability to lead the department. I will not let anyone impugn the integrity and confidence of our City organization, and I will fiercely uphold that standard as long as I am Mayor of this City.”
Mayor added, “What is also clear to me, is that the men and women of the Akron Police Department acted appropriately and swiftly upon receiving information of misconduct. At every step of the way, investigators put what was right above all else. I have full faith and confidence in the department going forward.”
Mayor Horrigan appointed Major Kenneth Ball as acting Chief of the Akron Police Department, effective August 27th. Ball, an Akron resident, has more than 26 years of service to the Akron Police Department. He joined the Akron Police Department in 1991, was promoted to sergeant in 1997; lieutenant in 2000; captain in 2006; and major in March of 2015. He graduated from the Police Executive Leadership College in 2001, and from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 2013.
Mayor Horrigan will work closely with Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Charles Brown and Director of Human Resources Don Rice to select a permanent police chief, in accordance with the Charter of the City of Akron.