SWAT officer in Ohio suspended after allegations he let friend don his uniform on Halloween

Posted at 3:59 PM, Nov 02, 2018

CINCINNATI, Ohio — A SWAT officer with the Cincinnati Police Department was suspended after reports he allowed a civilian to don parts of his uniform on Halloween, Lt. Steve Saunders confirmed Friday. 

Officer John Neal was placed on administrative duty pending the results of an internal investigation. His LinkedIn profile lists him as a K-9 handler as well as a SWAT officer with the department; Saunders said he was off-duty when the incident occurred. 

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies and at least two Cincinnati lieutenants were called to Anderson Towne Center early Thursday morning, according to body camera recordings released by the sheriff's office. In one recording, a deputy mentions receiving reports of a man in SWAT gear harassing patrons.

When deputies arrive, the man in question identifies himself as Neal's friend and claims to not have realized donning Neal's gear would be a problem. 

"I've known him for years," he says. "I didn't know this was a [expletive] issue. It was just a Halloween thing."

Later in the same recording, the man asks one deputy what will happen to Neal.

“It ain’t good, I can tell you that,” the deputy replies. “It’s pretty [expletive] stupid for this to be happening right now.”

A bartender at a nearby restaurant told deputies the men arrived in the patrol car. The man denied having driven.

In the body camera recordings, a deputy says the bartender reported the man had, while dressed in the tactical gear, grabbed her by the arm and told her she would need to be detained in his vehicle.