Wednesday, September 6, 2006

MSP LT. Aaron Sweeney - Pestoskey Post

 
 
 


Michigan State Police LT. Aaron Sweeney of the Petoskey post was arrested and charged with domestic violence: September 06, 2006.

After his arrest, Sweeney was transferred to Grand Rapids Post and is no longer a trainer with the State Police fire investigation unit.




Policing the texting-while-driving ban
Troopers discuss enforcement
Updated: Thursday, 29 Apr 2010, 11:33 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 29 Apr 2010, 10:28 PM EDT
By Jessica Leffler
http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/michigan/Policing-the-texting-while-driving-ban


video

Sgt Aaron Sweeney is the second trooper in this video

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The ban on texting while driving is expected to be signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Friday, which will be broadcast on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

It will be a primary offense -- meaning police can pull you over if they see you texting while driving. But what will officers and troopers look for on the roads?

24 Hour News 8 rode along with a trooper during rush-hour traffic Thursday to hear from police. Many drivers were using their cell phones, and some were more engaged in their phones than they were the traffic around them.

"Just think, when they're on their phone text messaging, you gotta take your eyes off the road," Trooper Dale Cook said.

Close calls caused by texting happen way too often, police said.

"(One woman) was doing about 35 -- never saw the stop sign because she was text messaging," Cook said. "And she hit that embankment. That's the only thing that stopped her."

In February in Georgetown Township, Jenison High School senior Eric Helm was killed on his way to school. Investigators say he likely was texting while driving.

"(The ban) will help us enforce that law and help keep people's eyes on the road, where they need to be," Sgt. Aaron Sweeney said.

Nearly 6,000 people were killed and 500,000 were injured in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Troopers hope the ban could make roads safer.

"Traffic safety is our goal," Sweeney said. "And anytime we can keep the drivers' eyes on the road, we're going to decrease their chances of being distracted and in an accident."

It's not always obvious when a driver is texting, but police do look for certain behaviors.

"Some people start to drift off, the right to the left, and that's the first indication that someone's on their phone text messaging, because they're not watching the road," Cook said.

The first time you're pulled over for texting while driving, the fine is $100. The second time, the fine is increased to $200









Police post commander demoted, transferred
Petoskey News-Review, MI
By Steve Zucker News-Review staff writer
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 11:54 AM EST
http://www.petoskeynews.com/articles/2007/01/10/news/local_regional/news2.txt

Michigan State Police officials have demoted and re-assigned the former commander of the Petoskey post following an internal investigation into domestic violence allegations against the officer.

State police public affairs officials said on Dec. 19 Aaron Sweeney, 41, was given a one-grade demotion from first lieutenant to lieutenant and re-assigned to a position as a trainer with the agency's fire investigation unit in Gaylord.

The disciplinary action follows a department investigation into an incident that took place at Sweeney's residence on Sept. 6.

Following the incident, Emmet County sheriff's deputies arrested Sweeney on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence.

On Oct. 11, Sweeney pleaded no-contest to the charge. A no-contest plea is like a guilty plea in that the person is held responsible for the crime and a conviction is entered in the record. Such pleas are only allowed in cases where the defendant either cannot remember the circumstances surrounding the crime because of intoxication or that the case could have possible civil implications. In Sweeney's case, his pending divorce from the victim in the case was the basis for the no-contest plea.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Sweeney was given a deferred sentence. That means that if he successfully completes the six months of probation - which includes paying several hundred dollars in fines and costs and participating in counseling - the conviction will be removed from Sweeney's record.

At the time of the sentence, the prosecutor involved in the case said such deferred sentences are very common in domestic violence cases such as Sweeney's where a defendant has no prior convictions. He said Sweeney was not given special treatment because of his position and said the plea was offered after consultation with the victim in the case.

The commander of the Cheboygan post, F/Lt. Kenneth Holm, is serving as the interim commander of the Petoskey post until a replacement for Sweeney is named. Sweeney, a 20-year veteran of the department, had been the Petoskey post commander since August of 2000. He has previously worked in the department's fire marshal division.


 
 
 









Post commander enters no contest plea
Petoskey News-Review, MI
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 2:51 PM EDT http://www.petoskeynews.com/articles/2006/10/25/news/local_regional/news02.txt

The commander of the Petoskey Michigan State Police who was facing a domestic violence charge has taken advantage of a plea agreement that will likely result in no conviction being entered on his record.

Special domestic violence prosecutor Mike Findlay said F/Lt. Aaron Sweeney, 41, pleaded no contest on Oct. 11 to a charge of domestic violence stemming from a Sept. 6 incident.

A no-contest plea is like a guilty plea in that the person is held responsible for the crime and a conviction is entered in the record. Such pleas are only allowed in cases where the defendant either cannot remember the circumstances surrounding the crime because of intoxication or that the case could have possible civil implications. In Sweeney's case, his pending divorce from the victim in the case was the basis for the no-content plea, Findlay said.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Sweeney was given a deferred sentence. That means that if he successfully completes the six months of probation - which includes paying several hundred dollars in fines and costs and participating in counseling - the conviction will be removed from Sweeney's record.

Findlay said such deferred sentences are very common in domestic violence cases such as Sweeney's, where a defendant has no prior convictions. He said Sweeney was not given special treatment because of his position and said the plea was offered after consultation with the victim in the case.

Emmet County Sheriff's deputies arrested Sweeney late on Sept. 6 after officers were called a report of a domestic disturbance at a home in Little Traverse Township.

Authorities have not provided details of the incident, but said no one was injured in the incident.
Sweeney was not available before press time today, Wednesday.

State police officials earlier said they would be conducting their own internal investigation into the incident, but said such investigations typically do not begin until after the criminal portion of the case has been completed.















State Police Lieutenant Pleads No Contest To Domestic Charges
WPBN-TV, MI
Oct 25, 2006
http://www.tv7-4.com/Global/story.asp?S=5588844&nav=1vrj

A Michigan State Police Trooper pleads no contest to domestic violence charges. In September First Lieutenant Aaron Sweeney of the State Police Post in Petoskey was charged with assault and battery. He has since pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge and was put on six months probation. If Lieutenant Sweeney does not violate any terms of the probation, there will be no conviction on his record.








Post commander gets fine, probation
He pleads no contest to domestic violence
Traverse City Record Eagle, MI
BY CRAIG MCCOOL
Oct 25, 2006
http://www.record-eagle.com/2006/oct/25sweeney.htm

PETOSKEY — A deferred sentence could mean a clean record for a Michigan State Police command officer accused of domestic violence.

Lt. Aaron Sweeney, commander of the state police post in Petoskey, was fined $500 and ordered to a term of probation with anger management sessions after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count, Emmet District Court records show.

Judge Richard May signed the order Oct. 11. If after six months Sweeney has not violated any probation terms, no conviction will be entered in the public record.

Sweeney, 41, was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after an incident with his wife at the couple's Little Traverse Township home. Prosecutors and Emmet County sheriff's officials repeatedly declined to discuss specifics about the incident.

Court records showed that special prosecutor Michael Findlay, an assistant state attorney general assigned to domestic violence cases in northern Michigan, offered the deferred status program as part of a plea agreement.

Sweeney declined comment and referred questions to his attorney, Joseph Kwiatkowski, who did not return phone calls.

The court took Sweeney's plea under advisement, Findlay said.

"The judge is kind of hanging this over his head, and as long as he does what he's supposed to, the conviction never gets entered," he said. Findlay said Sweeney did not receive special treatment.

"Any defendant, doing what he did, with no prior record and no history of assaultive behavior, would have been offered a deferred sentence," the prosecutor said. "Deferred sentences get used an awful lot with first-time offenders."

Findlay declined to discuss specifics of the incident, saying only that the victim suffered no injuries.

A conviction on Sweeney's record, now an unlikely event, could have jeopardized his career, as those convicted of domestic violence are not, under federal law, supposed to posses firearms.














Post commander waives arraignment
Traverse City Record Eagle, MI
By CRAIG MCCOOL
09/28/2006
http://www.record-eagle.com/2006/sep/28sweeney.htm

PETOSKEY — A Michigan State Police post commander who faces domestic violence charges said a conviction could jeopardize his career.

Lt. Aaron Sweeney, head of the Petoskey state police post, waived an arraignment hearing that had been set for Emmet District Court. A conviction could cost him his career, he told a Record-Eagle reporter Wednesday.

"There is a provision that if convicted of domestic violence, you can't carry a weapon," Sweeney said. "It's a state law."

Sweeney, 41, faces a single misdemeanor domestic violence charge. The alleged victim is his wife. The couple is in the midst of a divorce.

He is free on $1,000 bond and remains on duty following his arrest by Emmet County sheriff's deputies Sept. 7, the day after the alleged assault in the couple's Little Traverse Township home. A pre-trail hearing is set for Oct. 11.

Emmet Sheriff Peter Wallin declined to release information about Sweeney's case.

Sweeney, too, declined to discuss the pending charges.

"I can't talk about the domestic violence case," he said. "I'd like to. The imagination makes it a lot worse than the actual facts."








Accused cop not on leave
He faces domestic violence charge
Traverse City Record Eagle, MI
September 09, 2006
By CRAIG McCOOLRecord-Eagle staff writer
http://www.record-eagle.com/2006/sep/09cop.htm

PETOSKEY — A high-ranking Michigan State Police officer who faces domestic violence charges has not been placed on leave and remains on work status, though he currently isn't working.

Lt. Aaron Sweeney, commander of the MSP Petoskey Post, faces a single misdemeanor domestic violence charge. Sweeney was arrested Thursday by Emmet County sheriff's deputies at a residence in Little Traverse Township, court records show.

The alleged victim is Sweeney's wife. The couple have had divorce proceedings pending in Emmet Circuit Court since March, records show.

Sweeney, 41, could not be reached for comment. He has not been arraigned and is free on $1,000 bond. He is scheduled for arraignment this month.

Emmet Sheriff Peter Wallin and special prosecutor Michael Findlay, an assistant attorney general who handles all domestic violence cases in Emmet County, declined to provide details of the incident.

Inspector Russell Smith of the state police 7th District Headquarters said Sweeney has not been suspended.

"He is on working status, yes," Smith said. "They have leaves available to them. He has chosen to take some time off."

A state police news release indicates violations of administrative rules are "aggressively investigated," and spokeswoman Melody Kindraka said the potential violation that could apply involves a general rule that prohibits troopers from violating local, state or federal laws.

The rule does not identify potential penalties for such a violation, and Smith said "a person is allowed to continue to work with a misdemeanor conviction."

It is unclear what effect a domestic violence conviction might have on a defendant's right to carry firearms, said Findlay, because state and federal law differ on the issue.

"As a general rule, a domestic violence conviction, by state law, does not prohibit you from owning a weapon," Findlay said. "It does prohibit you from carrying a concealed weapon, but law enforcement officers are exempt from that."

"My understanding of federal law," Findlay said, "is that a conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor means that you're prohibited from possessing a firearm. And there is no exemption" for police officers.













State cop charged for domestic violence
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Traverse City Record Eagle, MI
Sep 8, 2006
http://www.record-eagle.com/2006/sep/08cop.htm

PETOSKEY — The state police Petoskey post commander faces a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, although no details about the nature of the charge were available. F/Lt. Aaron Sweeney was charged with domestic violence in Emmet County District Court Thursday, said Michael Findlay, a special assistant attorney general who specializes in domestic violence cases.

Findlay said he could not provide details about what led to charges, and no information was immediately available from the state police or the Emmet County Sheriff's Department. Sweeney could not be reached for comment.








State police post commander arrested on domestic assault charge
By Steve Zucker, News-Review staff writerFriday
September 8, 2006 1:56 PM EDT
http://www.petoskeynews.com/articles/2006/09/08/news/local_regional/news01.txt


The commander of the Petoskey Michigan State Police Post was arrested on a domestic violence charge late Wednesday.

Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said deputies from his office arrested Petoskey Post Commander F/Lt. Aaron Sweeney, 41, at a location on Pickerel Lake Road, stemming from allegations of an incident that happened in Little Traverse Township.

Wallin said the complaint originally came in to the state police post around 9:50 p.m., but because of the suspect in the case, troopers asked the sheriff's office to handle the investigation.

Wallin didn't provide details of the incident, but said it was typical of the dozens of domestic assault cases his and other Northern Michigan police agencies handle every year.

Based upon their investigation, deputies arrested Sweeney on a charge of domestic violence and lodged him at the Emmet County Jail. He was released Thursday after posting bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge in 90th District Court on Sept. 27.

Domestic violence is misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

The charge was authorized by and the case will be handled by Michigan Attorney General's office prosecutor Mike Findlay. Findlay is a special prosecutor assigned to handle domestic violence cases in a five-county area including Emmet County.

Wallin noted that it is his policy not to release the name of any person charged with any crime until after he or she is arraigned. He said the release of the information about Sweeney's arrest came from state police officials.

Inspector Russell Smith at the Michigan State Police 7th District Headquarters in Williamsburg said state police officials released the information about Sweeney's arrest in an effort to be up front with the public about the situation.

“The MSP has a long-standing tradition of demanding the highest possible standards of professional conduct from its enforcement and civilian members. To that end, all allegations of misconduct are aggressively investigated ... Regardless of whether a criminal charge results in a conviction, employees can still be subject to administrative penalties resulting from violations of department policy,” the state police news release reads.

Smith said Sweeney will remain on active duty until the completion of both the criminal case and the department's internal investigation.

He said that a misdemeanor conviction alone is not grounds for dismissal for a state police trooper, but that such a conviction would be factored in to the department's internal investigation.

Sweeney has been with the Michigan State Police since 1987 and has been the post commander at the Petoskey Post since 2000.

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