AKRON, OH - The executive director of the Metro Regional Transit Authority has been suspended for five days without pay after voluntarily confessing to texting behind the wheel of a company car.
Richard Enty told Metro employees and managers about the suspension in a letter provided to Fox 8 News.
In it he wrote, in part, "I decided that I needed to change these habits before I got into an accident. I also decided I would admit these wrongs to my boss, the Board President."
"There should not be a double standard for management and the rank and file. So yeah, I turned myself in," Enty confessed.
"The letter tells staff and tells the board that he is not above anyone else and he feels that he should be treated like any other employee here at Metro and because safety is such a strong concern for us, he felt like he had an issue with texting and driving and he should be held accountable just like anyone else would be," said Metro Spokesperson Molly Becker on Thursday.
Enty apparently confessed that he realized he had a problem while at a stop light and worried that others might have seen him doing something other Metro drivers are not allowed to do.
"Doing the right thing when no one is watching is very difficult, but with practice, it comes a bit easier. From this experience, I’m more determined than ever to set the right example for the people I am accountable to," said Enty in his letter.
Becker said the Board's first reaction was to write a letter of reprimand, but Enty insisted on being treated as any other employee would.
"It's not a revenue generating vehicle. He stated that he was at a stop light, so their first reaction was 'let's give him a letter of reprimand, because he was honest and forthcoming,' but he insisted on having the stronger punishment of the time off," said Becker.
Metro employees tell Fox 8 News that the confession has made an impact.
"I think that he did right. He came forward and admitted that he had a problem with texting and wanted to set an example for everybody, employees and so forth in the position that he is in," said Debbie Lewis.
"Everybody is fallable. But he did man up and he's a good guy, you know, and he is taking action for what he has done," said Laurie Matthews.
Enty could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Enty also addressed his employees in his letter.
"It would only have been a matter of time before one of my co-workers did, or the public did, or even worse, I got into a serious accident with the company car," said Enty.
He also confessed to worrying about Metro's image if that were to happen.
"We are out here, we're doing a public service, we need to be focused at all times while we are driving. We have so many distractions out here, sometimes we have to drive these busses for other people," said Metro bus driver Kevin Moore.
Metro's 2012 annual report states the company has taken more than five million passengers more than a combined three million miles.
Along the way, the drivers are forbidden from using any kind of personal electronic device.
Frequent passengers reacted to the confession by saying it was a bold thing to do, something they might not be able to do themselves.
"I personally don't think I could do that. I don't believe in texting and driving anyway. It's like drinking and driving. I don't believe in that, so I think it's really outstanding he did that," said Hannah Glomski.
"Maybe after people see him doing that, you know, maybe they will think before they do it, because me riding the bus, I actually do see a lot of people in their cars texting and driving and not looking at the road," said Jerome Blackmon.