Clark County officer accused of using police database to track women on social media

CLARK COUNTY — A Clark County police officer facing felony charges for misusing an Ohio police database system used the system to track women and send them social media requests, according to a complaint filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

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Michel Stratton, formerly of the Enon Police Department, was indicted on a felony charge of unauthorized use of property in Clark County Common Pleas Court in May. Stratton was accused of misusing the Ohio Law Enforcement Automated Data System or “LEADS.”

The LEADS system contains information like checking driving records, running license plate registrations, checking criminal histories or whether people have come into contact with during calls for service or traffic stops have any warrants.

When asked about the charges Stratton is facing, a Clark County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson said Stratton “is accused of using LEADS information to look up individuals that were outside of his official law enforcement duties.”

Records obtained in a News Center 7 public records request Wednesday show Stratton was accused by an Enon officer of using the LEADS system to track women and send them social media requests.

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The Ohio Attorney General’s Office was asked by Enon police in August 2021 to launch an investigation after the departing Enon officer accused in an exit interview Stratton misused the system.

“(The departing Enon officer) stated in the past he witnessed former Officer Michel Stratton run vehicle registrations of unknown females. Stratton would then search for the female on Facebook and send her a friend request,” and Ohio Attorney General’s Office investigator said in a request for assistance document obtained in News Center 7′s public record request.

The Ohio AG’s Office was requested to look into the allegations in August 2021. At the time of the complaint, Stratton was an officer with the South Charleston Police Department, investigators said in the document.

According to the Ohio AG’s Office document, Stratton was employed by several area police departments from November 2012 through the date the complaint was filed in August 2021:

  • Mechanicsburg police: Nov. 2012-May 2016
  • Enon police: March 2017-September 2019
  • Clark County Park District: May 2020-August 2020
  • Capital University Police: October 2020-May 2021
  • South Charleston Police: October 2019-time of public record publication in Aug. 2021.

Stratton was listed as a current officer of the South Charleston Police Department at the time of the investigation starting. News Center 7 has reached out to South Charleston police multiple times for information on his employment status and have not received an answer.

Stratton’s employment with the Mechanicsburg police ended in his resignation in 2016, the Ohio AG’s Office document showed, and was also confirmed by Mechanicsburg Police Chief John Alexander.

“(Enon Police) Chief Holler advised over a phone call that Officer Stratton formerly worked at Mechanicsburg Police Department where he was allowed to resign in lieu of termination,” the Ohio AG document stated.

Alexander confirmed Stratton resigned in 2016 following a complaint that was filed by another officer about a comment Stratton made. Additional details about that comment were not immediately known.

Alexander said Mechanicsburg police cooperated with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation probe last year when it was opened against Stratton. Alexander added had the Ohio BCI investigation concluded Stratton misused the system while at Mechanicsburg “he would be been indicted in (Champaign) County too,” Alexander said.

News Center 7 has also reached out to Enon police on separate occasions for comments and answers to questions and we are awaiting a response.

The Ohio AG’s Office document concluded with a request for the incident to be investigated by a special agent with the Ohio BCI.

“I believe that an unbiased investigation conducted by a BCI Special Agent is warranted in this situation due to Officer Stratton working for multiple agencies, many overlapping dates of employment, and for the streamlining of resources, rather than multiple separate investigations by each individual agency where possible misuse could have occurred,” the document states.

Jon Paul Rion, Stratton’s attorney, previously denied the allegations when contacted by News Center 7.

“But I think there’s compelling evidence that would indicate that there’s a very innocent explanation and answer to the question we log to the jury. I mean the LEADS reports were run, but they were run in the course of his occupation and for no other reason,” Rion said.

We’ll continue to update this story as we learn more.