CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Police Department’s Vice Unit is under federal investigation, and two officers were suspended last month, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters confirmed Friday.
Vice Officer Patricia Simpson, 42, and Officer Quiana Campbell, 38, who worked most recently in the impound lot, were both stripped of their police powers, guns and badges, police records show and Deters confirmed.
The scope of the investigation was not immediately clear.
One of the suspended officers, Simpson, is CPD’s “subject matter expert on the liquor permit process and has extensive knowledge on liquor laws and regulatory violations," according to her latest job evaluation.
Local authorities are not involved in the probe at this point, FOX19 NOW has learned.
It was not immediately clear Friday night when the investigation began or what the result will be.
But one thing is certain, Deters said.
The vice sergeant who committed suicide Thursday, Sgt. Arthur Schultz, had nothing to do with it.
“Nothing, " Deters stressed, “and he was a great police officer. He was never implicated at all, ever. I have confirmed it with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that he was never a target of the investigation and, even further, they said they believed he was a very, very good police officer."
The prosecutor spoke out to defend and clear Schultz’s name after some media reports Friday afternoon about the vice investigation before the facts were out.
CPD officer found dead in vehicle
“This is sad, especially this time of year,” Deters said, “but we need to find out the truth. Our prayers are with the officer’s family.”
In a statement, Cincinnati police officials said:
"The Cincinnati Police Department would like to again extend our condolences to the Schultz family for the loss of Sgt. Art Schultz. Sgt. Schultz had an exemplary career and was a well-respected member of our Department.
“In order to refute any misinformation that may be circulating regarding recent suspensions of two of our officers, it is important to note that Sgt. Schultz was under no scrutiny and to report anything to the contrary would be inaccurate.”
Sgt. Dan Hils, president of the union that represents Cincinnati police, issued a similar statement.
“There has mistakenly been a connection between a mention of an unconfirmed federal investigation into certain Cincinnati Vice officers and the tragic death of Sgt. Arthur Schultz,” he said.
“I will stake my reputation that when and if this investigation is confirmed or revealed that it has absolutely nothing to do with Art Schultz or his passing. Art was suffering from a medical condition and was in extreme pain. Sgt. Schultz’s integrity was second to no one. Any media outlet working to connect these stories is doing a great disservice to the memory of Sgt. Schultz and his grieving family.”
Sgt. Schultz, 54, was found inside a vehicle on Eden Park Drive in Eden Park at lunchtime Thursday.
His apparent suicide - just five days before Christmas – has stunned and devastated his colleagues within the department.
He leaves behind a wife who is a detective with CPD, and two daughters, 23 and 18.
The 28-year veteran with the police department worked in the vice unit nearly 20 years, since December 2000.
He was on a plainclothes assignment at the time of his death, Chief Eliot Isaac said Thursday.
Sgt. Schultz was one of Simpson’s supervisors and highly rated her work, according to her most recent job evaluation, September 2017-September 2018.
He classified her as “Exceeds Standards” on all but one section - and upped that to “Exceptional” when it came to “Interaction with Other Units and Agencies.
Simpson became a Cincinnati police officer in February 2004 and worked in District 2 until she was transferred to the vice unit in May 2006.
“Officer Simpson is assigned to the Vice Squad as the Liquor Coordinator and responsible for maintaining, processing and coordinating reports related to liquor permits for the Department,” her review states. "She is the Department’s subject matter expert on the liquor permit process and has extensive knowledge on liquor laws and regulatory violations.
“Officer Simpson routinely works with other units, outside agencies, and other City Departments, including council members who rely on her knowledge of liquor permit premises. Officer Simpson’s work led to several chronic nuisance locations being shut down or receiving penalties from the Liquor Commission. Officer Simpson is highly motivated and performs her duties with little supervision.”
Another supervisor, Lt. Bret Isaac, the police chief’s brother, concurred with Schultz’s assessment of her work.
“Officer Simpson’s knowledge and expertise with liquor compliance investigation, and her ability to navigate the intricate process of liquor objections is unmatched,” Isaac wrote.
“She has a solid work ethic, and she is a team player. She is always willing to assist when help is needed elsewhere in the section. Officer Simpson is organized and efficient, delivering a very high quality work product. She works very well with little direct supervision and completes her assignments on time. She conducts herself in a professional manner, reflecting very favorably on the department. Officer Simpson is a valued and respected member of the Unit. She is dedicated to the department and loyal to the mission. I appreciate her efforts and commend her on her dedication to duty.
“Officer Simpson,” Isaac wrote in closing, “should consider studying for promotion.”
FOX19 NOW began looking into this case months ago.
“We cannot confirm or deny the existence of a potential investigation,” wrote Todd Lindgren, spokesman for the Cincinnati office of the FBI, an in an email to FOX19 NOW.
The U.S Attorney’s Office for Southern Ohio has not responded to requests for comment.
We are still waiting for Cincinnati police to furnish all of the records we have requested related to the suspended officers.