MUNROE FALLS: It was a little backward, but the Munroe Falls City Council on Tuesday confirmed Mayor Frank Larson’s appointment of Tom Pozza as the new police chief. The vote was 5-1.
Pozza was the Cuyahoga Falls police chief before retiring in December.
While the confirmation hearing before the City Council customarily takes place before the oath is administered, Larson appointed and swore in Pozza on Friday — three days after the abrupt firing of Police Chief Rick Myers.
Bob Pitz abstained from voting. He objected to Larson jumping the gun. He said the confirmation vote was illegal because Pozza was installed before the council voted.
Law director Jack Morrison disagreed.
Morrison suggested that Larson swear in Pozza last week so the city would not be without a chief.
“It was because of a very sensitive matter in the police department,” Morrison said.
Councilman Steve Stahl was the lone “no” vote.
“It’s not personal towards you,” said Stahl, also a former Munroe Falls police chief. “I’m opposed to what happened to Rick Myers.”
Pozza was a member of the Cuyahoga Falls force for 34 years, becoming that department’s chief in 2011. He has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Kent State University, was an instructor at Kent State and the former Munroe Falls Police Academy and graduated from the FBI academy.
He retired in December, the same time that longtime Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart, who had appointed him chief, left office after losing re-election.
Pozza will oversee a staff of five full-time officers and 10 part-timers.
Before the confirmation hearing, Pozza sat with other department heads, listening to some of the 30 or so residents who attended to express dismay at Myers’ dismissal.
Former reserve officer Michelle Barzal said Myers got the community involved.
“How can you do this?” she said. “You made us be involved with this man and now you are shocked when we come up here and want to know what happened to our chief?”
Larson declined to say why Myers was dismissed, citing privacy of personnel matters.
Resident Deborah Berkey said she is embarrassed she voted for Larson.
Barzal told Pozza he was inheriting a city that loved its previous police chief.
“I will back you as hard as I backed Rick Myers if you do a good job,” she said.
Beacon Journal report Paula Schleis contributed to this report.