NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – A Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Village of Newton Falls over the decision to dismantle the village’s police department.
The lawsuit was filed by residents David Hanson and Patricia Benetis in December 2022 against the village, Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe and the county commissioners.
The suit alleged that the village violated its own charter when council voted to dismantle the police department in favor of protection from the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office. The suit alleged that the village council did not follow the requirements of the village’s charter, and the plaintiffs asked the judge to declare the ordinance abolishing the police department as unlawful and prevent the contract with the sheriff’s department from taking effect.
Hanson’s and Benetis’ attorney, David Engler, previously told WKBN that the village’s charter specifies that the village’s police chief must make those decisions and that council did not have enough votes to pass the emergency ordinance, as the fourth ward council seat was vacant at the time.
Tuesday, Judge Ronald Rice denied the plaintiffs’ requests and dismissed the case at their costs.
The judge ruled that council entering into a contract with the county sheriff for police functions was allowable under the Ohio Revised Code. The judge also determined that the ordinance did not serve to amend the village’s charter or violate that charter in any way.
Since a police levy failed in the village, council members had said they had no choice under budgetary constraints but to outsource policing to the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office.