A Shaker Heights police officer who is on administrative leave pending an investigation into making an obscene gesture to Black Lives Matter protesters at the presidential debate Sept. 29 in Cleveland, no longer works as a security officer at Beatrice J. Stone Yavne High School in Beachwood.
Corporal Michael Spuzzillo was off-duty working part time as a security officer for at least the last five years at Yavne, according to documents obtained from the police department. Yavne is Hebrew Academy of Cleveland’s high school for girls.
On Sept. 8, Shaker Heights Police Chief Jeffrey N. Demuth granted Spuzzillo’s renewal request to have outside employment in order to work security at Yavne provided it didn’t interfere with his olice department duties.
Oren Baratz, senior vice president of external affairs for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in Beachwood, confirmed in an Oct. 13 email to the CJN that Spuzzillo no longer works as a security officer at the school.
Spuzzillo was placed on administrative leave from the police department Sept. 30 after “flipping off” protesters after it became aware of his gesture. He began work with the Shaker Heights Police Department on Jan. 7, 2002.
Under former Shaker Heights Police Chief Walter Ugriic, he was suspended for one day “pertaining to your performance in the handling of several calls on March 9, 2004,” according to documents the CJN obtained from the police department. Spuzzillo failed to dust for prints in one case and failed to file a police report in another.
Prior to working for the Shaker Heights Police Department, he worked for the Warrensville Heights Police Department from January 1997 to January 2002 and the Northfield Police Department from 1996 to 1997.
Spuzzillo graduated from Trinity High School in Garfield Heights in 1991 and holds an associate degree in law enforcement from Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, he received in 1996. He is a certified Ohio peace officer.
In a March 2000 supplemental application to the Shaker Heights Police Department, he wrote, “I grew up in Garfield Heights and have always been familiar with Cleveland’s east side. Now after working in a city neighboring Shaker Heights, I know that it is a socially and culturally diverse community with a relatively low violent crime rate. It has an excellent school system, large residential and business areas, and many shopping plazas. It is also a historic and prestigious city.
“As far as the Police Department is concerned, it’s a department that is very well trained and equipped, has acquired grants, and is considered an ‘elite’ police department,” Spuzzillo wrote. “It is for all the above reasons that I have become interested in the department.”
In that same application, he said he tried to be a strong role model.
The Shaker Heights Police Department has not specified how long the investigation will take.