Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cedar Rapids Officer Robyn Obadal arrested for Burglary

Officer Robyn L. Obadal, 36, was arrested on suspicion of third-degree burglary around 10 a.m. Thursday at police headquarters. She is accused of taking two dogs from a vacant house at 1201 10th St. NW on Saturday.

Obadal, a police officer in Cedar Rapids since 1997, was taken to the Linn County Jail, where she was booked and released on a promise to appear in court on Aug. 10. She has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, pending an internal investigation.

Officer Melissa Henderson, a police spokeswoman, said investigators believe Obadal took the dogs between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday while she was on duty. Homeowner Chad Ramey reported the burglary around 4:10 p.m. that same day.

Obadal strongly denied the allegations Thursday afternoon.

“I did not break into a house, and I didn’t steal somebody’s dogs,” Obadal said. “Anybody who knows me knows I always do the right thing. I don’t do the wrong thing.”

Obadal said she was on routine patrol Saturday morning when a woman on a bike stopped her and told her about two loose dogs. Obadal said one of the dogs was loose by the property, and the other was circling near the neighbor’s fence. Both were filthy, she said.

Obadal said she went onto the porch of the house, which was damaged in the 2008 flood, and saw that the dogs had gotten loose from their kennel.

“There was no way I could put them back into the kennel they came out of,” Obadal said. “It was in unsanitary condition.”

Instead, Obadal said she stretched her emergency blanket over the back seat and got the dogs in her patrol car.Dogs jump in a kennel at 1201 10th St. NW last week before Cedar Rapids police officer Robyn Obadal was accused of stealing them. Obadal said she took the photo to show the unsanitary conditions the dogs were living in and e-mailed it to animal control.

A few minutes later, she said a man came up to her car and said he would take the dogs and get them back to the owner, who he claimed to know. Obadal said she did not ask for man’s name, but agreed to let him have the dogs, which she said was acceptable practice when handling a loose dog call.

“I was covered in dog feces from head to toe, and my back seat was disgusting from the dogs,” Obadal said. “I had one thing on my mind, and that was getting home to wash up my uniform, wash off and scrub the back seat of my car.”

Obadal said she did not notify dispatchers while she was out with the loose dogs, but did go on the radio to say she was stopping at her residence to clean up. She said doesn’t know what the man actually did with the dogs, but thinks he might have been setting her up.

“What I believe is that someone in the neighborhood went over and let the dogs out, and just by chance, I pulled up and they were running loose,” Obadal said. “So I took the blame for the dogs being let loose…

“I was the perfect scapegoat.”

Ramey, the homeowner, said his brother arrived Saturday afternoon and realized the dogs were missing. He said the dogs – a three-year-old female pit bull named Shadow and a two-year-old female German shepherd named Sylvia – were found Sunday running loose along Ellis Boulevard NW.

“Animal Control found them over off of Ellis,” Ramey said. “They magically appeared the next day, after the burglary report was filed.”

Ramey, 27, said he kept the dogs in a kennel behind the house. He said he bought them in Texas, where he was serving in the Air Force, before coming home and buying the house in mid-2009. He said he is repairing the house so he and his wife can move in.

Ramey said he previously kept the dogs at his mother-in-law’s house, but built the kennel for them after it got too crowded there.

“I come over and feed them, clean it, and all that every day,” he said. “They get checked on every single day.”

Obadal said she was questioned by her superiors earlier in the week about the dogs, and told them her story. When she arrived for work Thursday, she was told she was being arrested. Obadal said she was “shocked” and “dumbfounded.”

“I was advised that disciplinary action could be taken even prior to going to court,” Obadal said. “I expect to be fired.”

Obadal’s arrest is the third embarrassing development for the Cedar Rapids Police Department since May. K-9 unit Officer Wayne Handeland, a 21-year-veteran, resigned after his squad car ended up at a Marion bar on May 5. Witnesses told SourceMedia Group he arrived at the bar in the squad car with two women, and appeared intoxicated.

Police conducted a seven-week internal investigation before Handeland stepped down.

Undisclosed disciplinary action was taken against another officer after he was photographed asleep in his squad car on the morning of May 10. The officer’s name was never released.

“Obviously, these are isolated incidents,” said Henderson, the police spokeswoman. “As a whole, I don’t think it’s a true reflection on the department. There are a lot of good things that happen here and a lot of good officers here. Unfortunately, we’ve had a run of bad incidents here.”

No comments: