HUBBARD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – The police union in Hubbard Township is calling for all the trustees and the police chief to step down.
A letter was sent out late Thursday from Sgt. Ronald A. Fusco, steward of Hubbard Township Fraternal Order of Police (FOP Lodge #85), to all the township trustees and Police Chief Todd Coonce.
In the letter to trustees, Fusco writes, in part:
Our community at large has been witness to your reckless and blatant disregard for our safety, and we no longer believe any of you have the character necessary to make decisions that are in the best interest of our township or in line with the wishes of the people you swore to serve.”Sgt. Ronald A. Fusco
In the letter to Chief Coonce, Fusco says the police union has “lost faith” in Coonce’s ability to run the department.
We deserve a supportive leader who shows genuine heart. Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge. We no longer feel as though you have our best interest at heart.”Sgt. Ronald Fusco
“If they do not step down, I definitely know they’ll have opposition when their terms come up,” Bill Colletta said.
The letters come in the wake of the ongoing tensions between Hubbard Township officials and the police union.
To save money, trustees considered disbanding the police department and using the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office to patrol the township but recently decided to table that idea.
Colletta and John Bizub are part of a six-member committee they say was approved by trustees to look at ways to cut costs and keep the police department. One of their suggestions to save money was to not rehire Chief Coonce or the secretary.
“Those two items, right from the very beginning, would have saved the township $150,000 in the police budget,” Bizub said.
On Tuesday, the trustees rehired both.
“It — really, to me, after that meeting — seems like the trustees are just in the position where they want the police department to fail,” Colletta said.
“There’s no integrity there, there’s no respect. I’ve lost it completely,” Bizub said.
Trustee Rick Hernandez said there will be a performance audit conducted on the police department on Jan. 15.
For the time being, the department will keep operating as usual.
“We have enough money to run us six weeks’ payroll,” Hernandez said. “Once we get past that level, then we’re going to have to look into a bank loan or maybe, possibly, pulling out of the general and, as I’ve said before, the general fund is very weak at this point in time.”
Trustees rejected a recent fact-finder’s report Tuesday so they could continue talks about keeping the police department operating. However, the police union accepted that same report Thursday, which looked at issues regarding a new collective bargaining agreement between the township and the police department.
The fact-finder was brought in to help the sides reach a contract agreement. Since trustees rejected the report, the next step is conciliation, which is a final offer settlement procedure for unions prohibited from striking.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show Fusco is the steward of the Hubbard Township police union, not the vice president. We regret the error.