Newton Falls chooses top cop from Windham

NEWTON FALLS – The police department had been running headless that is to say, without an official chief for the last eight months until officials named Eugene H. Fixler to the position Monday night.

Fixler was appointed through the unanimous approval of an emergency ordinance by the village council Monday, to fill the vacancy left with the dismissal of former Chief John Kuivila. The ordinance specifies that he is entitled to a $61,385.58 salary, four weeks of vacation and a police vehicle for personal use at a monthly rate of $100.

He is the current chief of Windham, a village of about 2,200 just northeast of Newton Falls. He held that position since December of 2010, but his police career goes back some 40 years to his first job with the force in Cleveland Heights in 1973.

Since his time in Windham he said crime is down, open drug sales have been suppressed and traffic is being better controlled. He said his first plan of action for the new position is to meet the staff and observe operations.

“I’m going to really sit back, watch, look and listen and then make some changes that need to be made. If something’s not broke, you don’t need to fix it, but if it is, you have to analyze it first,” Fixler said.

Fixler said his position in Windham Village also allowed his department to provide mutual aid to the surrounding township of Windham. He said he is accustomed to patrolling both residential and retail areas, while keeping open communication with residents.

Council interviewed several candidates after the position opened in February with the dismissal of Kuivila, whose time in Newton Falls was mired with controversy over allegations of inappropriate actions toward a female employee.

Village Manager Jack Haney said he believes Fixler will be a “good fit” for the position.

“It’s nice to have some one in the full time position for our sake and the sake of the community,” he said.

Sgt. Rick Lisum had been filling in as acting police chief. Councilman Richard Zamecnik was absent from the Monday meeting.