NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Trumbull County Common Pleas Court has overturned the termination of former Newton Falls Police Chief Gene Fixler.
The court ruled that Newton Falls City Council failed to follow state law, which requires 2/3 of majority vote to fire a police chief. The final vote — taken in January — was 3 to 2.
“I had a drug unit, January 1 to October 20 of last year we had approximately 115 files of drug cases,” said Fixler.
On Wednesday afternoon, First News received a press release from the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Fixler’s union. The release stated in part it would “anticipate that the village council will vote to rescind Chief Fixler’s termination at tonight’s council meeting and reinstate him with backpay as of Jan. 5, 2022.”
But the council didn’t vote on Fixler’s reinstatement. Instead, members said they would discuss it in executive session.
“It would be impossible for me to build it back up but i will go by what the court tells me and what my attorney tells me,” Fixler said.
City law director Brad Bryan says they will consider their options before moving forward.
Fixler says in addition to asking for backpay, his union also plans to bill the city for legal fees.
“They fired me with my contract and everything,” Fixler says. “They were on a mission — what I call a witch hunt — at this so-called trial that they gave me.”
He says the department has suffered in his absence.
“The department is destroyed. I spent nine years and I earned the respect of the community, and in that nine years I was able to reduce drug sales, drug usage, crime in general,” he says.
As to whether he would still want the job, Fixler says he is also awaiting advice of legal counsel before making that decision.