Former Newton Falls police chief wins legal case for improper termination
The former Police Chief of Newton Falls has won his lawsuit after being fired by the village. We talked with former Police Chief Gene Fixler who said he is not surprised by the court ruling.
Wednesday, October 5th 2022, 11:53 PM EDT
The former Police Chief of Newton Falls has won his lawsuit after being fired by the village.
We talked with former Police Chief Gene Fixler who said he is not surprised by the court ruling and says council wasted taxpayers money in what he called a "witch hunt."
Trumbull Common Pleas Court ruled the Village did not meet the minimum threshold to remove the chief when they terminated him January 5, 2022.
Some residents during public comments yelled at village council saying they should step down.
"You guys are ruining this town, Your ruining this town," said Brian Kropp a former council member.
He and some others said they are not voting for the police levy due to mismanagement.
Council and the Mayor told the people at the meeting the spending took place in prior administrations and they inherited the budget deficit they are left to work with.
"This whole thing right from the get go was a witch hunt against not only myself, but the former law director, the former city manager, the former council clerk. I said so in the so called trial," Fixler said.
His termination was a tie vote with two council members voting to retain Fixler, two voting to fire him and the Mayor broke the tie to fire Fixler.
The Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association says it was confident Newton Falls administration did not have the cause, the evidence or sufficient votes to terminate him.
The court stated it did not need to determine if there was insufficient evidence, due to the fact the vote was not sufficient to fire him.
Fixler would not say if he will go back as police chief if the village votes to reinstate him, but said the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association or OPBA will speak for him on further matters.
Fixler emphasizing he worked nine years building the department up but his specialized drug unit, the group that worked street crimes, and other specialties are no longer there.
He explained the department of 26 officers is down to around 10, and if the levy fails there is talk about disbanding the Newton Falls Police Department.
"Unfortunately I don't have a police department to go back to. There is talk about disbanding the police department without a levy. Nobody knows what will happen," emphasized Fixler.
I have to tell you that my canine unit is no longer there, the officer even resigned because of working conditions. I had a child sex crimes detective she resigned. Nobody wanted to work under the conditions of not only the city administration, ... and one more officer is quitting," Fixler added.
The Mayor won't say if they will reinstate Fixler or if they will appeal.
Council and the Mayor met in executive session to discuss the ruling and explore all options but said they will not make a decision at Wednesday's council meeting.
Also during public comments some residents expressed they are tired of being threatened there won't be a police department if voters don't pass a levy.
One read part of a law and said Newton Falls much retain a police department.
Council voted to give full time officers and part time officers a raise.