Liberty welcomes new patrolman
By Samantha Phillips
A new face will be on patrol in the township starting Sunday.
Patrolman Christopher Walla of Poland was sworn in by Girard Municipal Judge Jeff Adler at the township administration building Thursday afternoon.
Walla previously worked at Salem, New Middletown and Poland’s police departments.
Interim police Chief Toby Meloro said the new hire is the first of many.
There may be another ceremony Tuesday afternoon to welcome another officer.
The Liberty school board will vote Monday to approve a partnership between the board and the police to hire a school resource officer. The officer also will work for the township over the summer and on holidays if approved.
The plan is for the school to pay 70 percent of the officer’s salary, and for the township to pay 30 percent.
As far as budget concerns, Meloro said hiring another officer will save costs because it covers shifts to prevent overtime pay.
He emphasized school safety is the top priority and is seeking grants for more officers and SROs.
Referring to Trustees Arnie Clebone and Greg Cizmar, who voted Thursday morning for the new hire, Meloro said, “I have two trustees who are 100 percent supportive of what I’m doing here. ... They understand my vision.”
The third trustee, Jodi Stoyak, was not in favor of hiring another officer due to budget concerns, not discussing it publicly and not consulting the fiscal officer.
Plus, she said she couldn’t vote on the matter because she can’t go to the Thursday morning meetings.
While Meloro says morale on the police department has never been better, Stoyak said she is worried about how the results of the investigation into Meloro will affect officers’ conduct: “They ... can say, ‘You weren’t disciplined for what you did. How can you discipline me?’”