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Liberty Police Chief Slifka asked to step down or be fired

Published: Fri, May 30, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

Trustee Jodi Stoyak disagrees with the decision.

LIBERTY — Township Police Chief Tony Slifka has been asked to resign as chief of police or be terminated, but not every township official is happy about that decision.

Township trustees, in a 2-1 decision, sent Slifka a letter saying he was no longer wanted as chief. The letter was sent via Atty. Mark Finamore, the township’s legal counsel.

“We gave him an option, either to resign or on June 9 he would be fired,” said Township Trustee Gary Litch.

The letter, Litch said, explained that the township is willing to pay Slifka his 45 days of wages and three months of health care per his contract whether he resigns or is terminated. Slifka’s contract with the township would have ended in October.

Trustee Jack Simon also voted to issue the letter asking for the chief’s resignation.

Litch said there are three reasons for the decision to ask Slifka to resign, but one stands out more than the others — the death of Mary Rush, who was found dead outside her home after two calls to police about someone crying out for help in the night.

“The No. 1 reason was the situation with Mary Rush and his failure to do anything to discipline the officers involved and, in fact, defending the officers,” Litch said. “As the police chief, I feel he needed to address the board of trustees with what disciplinary action would be taken with these officers.”

Litch also points to an investigation of missing funds at the township’s now-closed post office and the investigation into an officer who used GPS to track his girlfriend and is now on paid leave.

He said both investigations have gone on too long without answers to trustees.

Slifka has not given any word on whether he will resign.

Trustee Jodi Stoyak did not agree with the decision.

“I don’t feel that there was documentation or justification for the removal of the chief, and I certainly don’t agree with the way it’s being done,” she said.

Stoyak said the post office investigation is ongoing and, “until that is defined, you just can’t point fingers at anyone.”

Stoyak also said she is not happy that officer Charles Sayre, the one on leave, is being paid, but she understands that to be the process. She said the situation needs to be handled properly so the township is not found liable for any wrongdoing.

The situation with Rush is being investigated by law enforcement officials from Kent State University with a 60-day time line, she said.

“Maybe these things are not moving quickly enough for my board, but I would rather do it this way instead of making a mistake. I believe our chief is going through the appropriate measures to give us a recommendation, then we vote on that recommendation,” she said.

Litch said should Slifka be removed, the trustees would move to put an interim chief in place and immediately begin to look for a permanent replacement.


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