Grand Traverse jail captain suspended

Capt. Todd Ritter, administrator for Grand Traverse County's jail, was placed on paid administrative leave effective April 4. Sheriff Tom Bensley declined further comment.

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County’s jail Capt. Todd Ritter is on a paid suspension until an internal investigation concludes.

Sheriff Tom Bensley on Friday said officials put Ritter on paid administrative leave April 4 while an investigation continues. He declined to share the reason for the probe.

“At this time, no additional information is available,” he said, reading from a written statement. “No further details are available.”

He declined comment when asked how long he expects the suspension to last, only saying it is “pending the results of an internal investigation.”

Ritter could not be reached.

Capt. Keith Gillis with the Traverse City Police Department, which sometimes is brought in for jail investigations, said his department is not involved.

Sheriff's department officials investigated Ritter in 2017 after he was involved in a rear-end crash on U.S. 31 near Interlochen Golf Course on Sept. 30. A 16-year-old driver, his 44-year-old mother and an 18-year-old woman all suffered "light" or "possible" injuries, as previously reported.

Ritter claimed he peered down at a radio dial before looking up to see a van's brake lights as it turned into the golf course. He broke some ribs and went to Munson Medical Center.

He was a part of negotiations between the jail, county and Northern Lakes Community Mental Health last year to create a new contract that provides two new full-time positions in the jail aimed at improving mental health services. Negotiations lasted about six months.

The positions — a Community Mental Health therapist and peer support specialist — are filled, and the employees have been in the jail since Feb. 4. There have been a few reports of critical incidents that were resolved without the use of force thanks to the mental health professionals, Ritter previously said.

Those new positions were implemented after 51 attempted suicides and two suicides — Marilyn Lucille Palmer and Alan Bradley Halloway — at the jail between 2011 and 2018. Both Halloway and Palmer hanged themselves, on July 21, 2017, and Feb. 28, 2018, respectively.

Palmer hanged herself in the shower area of her cell — it was 10 years to the day that Sarah Lynn Clark did the same. Family members took Clark off a respirator on March 3, 2008, and she died soon after, as previously reported.

See www.Record-Eagle.com for further updates.

Alexa Zoellner contributed to this report

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