LIBERTY TOWNSHIP Officials forgo police changes
Liberty police union rejected the township settlement offer.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LIBERTY -- Liberty Township trustees have reversed themselves, opting not to reorganize the police department for now.
In a 2-1 vote during a special Tuesday meeting, trustees decided to retain two captains and seven sergeants.
Trustees Jack Simon and Patricia Metzinger voted to rescind their April 9 measure to eliminate two captain and two sergeant positions. Trustee Patrick Durina cast the dissenting vote.
Michael Pilolli, who resigned as chief effective April 28, fills one of the captain slots, while James Cerenelli will remain a captain.
Janet Virostek will be demoted to fill a vacant sergeant spot effective today.
Township administrator Darlene St. George said interim Police Chief Ronald Heineking will make their assignments.
Earlier decision: Trustees decided originally to restructure the department after a study by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police recommended that Pilolli be removed as chief and the township discuss retirement with Cerenelli and Virostek.
Earlier Tuesday, the police union, a local of the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, rejected a township offer to retain two captain and seven sergeant slots.
In exchange, the OPBA would have dismissed two outstanding grievances dealing with the elimination of the captain and sergeant positions and two pending unfair-labor practices.
William Wilson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 65 and OPBA adviser, said the union rejected the township offer because "it would be punitive and retaliatory against Janet [Virostek]."
Also, Wilson said, it called for the union to dismiss all its grievances and unfair labor practices it has pending against the township.
Councilman's stance: In voting not to reorganize, Simon said he didn't believe the reorganization was feasible at this time.
He termed the union rejection of the township offer "a slap in the face by the OPBA."
The department needs the supervision, Simon said.
Durina attempted to persuade Simon and Metzinger to side with him to retain the restructuring measure.
He argued that Cerenelli and Virostek should not be part of the management team and eliminating their slots would put two more patrol officers on patrol duty.
Durina pointed out that the chief's association study called attention to the department having too many supervisors.
Besides, he asserted, legal action by Cerenelli and Virostek against the township has cost the taxpayers "a ton of money," despite the township taking what he believes are proper positions.