Officers are experiencing a sense of relief with the new chief, a union leader says.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LIBERTY -- Liberty Township's new police chief is getting his officers involved in the decision-making process.
"I want their input to be part of the changes," said Anthony Slifka, who was named to head the police force last month.
Slifka of Hubbard took over the department from Ronald Heineking, who was named interim chief in April to replace Michael Pilolli.
Pilolli, who remains a captain, resigned in the wake of a critical organizational review of the department by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, which called for his removal.
Thus far, the chief has met with about half his officers in sessions varying from about 30 to 60 minutes. "I think it's important. I look to the future," he said.
Slifka has been conducting staff meetings with his sergeants and captains.
Infighting issue: One of the primary criticisms of the department by the OACP was that Pilolli and his captains had become dysfunctional because of infighting.
On occasion, Slifka wears his uniform rather than street clothes.
"I want to identify with the officers. The uniform helps identify with a person," he said.
The chief likes the impression a uniform leaves with the public.
"It's a positive sign. It's a good public relations tool," he said.
William Wilson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 65 and adviser to the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, thinks Slifka has already brought some relief to the tension within the department.
"I absolutely think he's off to a good start," said Wilson, who played a role in recommending to township trustees that they hire Slifka. "He will make the changes to make it, once again, an outstanding department."
At the same time, Wilson pointed out, officers remain cautious because of previous turmoil.
"I haven't heard anything bad about him [Slifka]," Wilson said.