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Liberty police chief discusses controversy, thanks two trustees

LIBERTY — Police Chief Toby Meloro addressed the controversy involving his appointment as chief at the trustees meeting Monday night.

“A year ago, I was appointed interim chief. Everyone in this room probably knows there’s controversy over my appointment,” Meloro said toward the end of his department report.

Meloro is accused of not thoroughly investigating the murder of Lorraine Lynn at her family’s property in the township. The outgoing chief, Richard Tisone, and law director, Cherry Poteet, recommended that Meloro, who was a captain at the time, be disciplined for his actions, not rewarded.

The decision to promote or punish Meloro was left up to the trustees.

“I’m sorry, because my family has been through a lot, OK. Seeing your name, growing up in the community and seeing your name in the paper in a negative way hurts because I love this community. There’s two people in this room that gave me nothing but support, allowing me to guide this organization. And understood, there’s two sides to this issue. I want to personally and publicly thank you,” Meloro said.

Meloro was fighting back tears to thank trustees Arnie Clebone and Greg Cizmar for their support. They both voted in favor of his appointment as interim chief, which passed 2-1, with trustee Jodi Stoyak voting no.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you. It was an easy decision,” said Clebone, who previously had said he wouldn’t have voted for Meloro if he wasn’t confident that he could do the job. “There’s room for disagreement. The right and the wrong, there’s not a total right; there’s not a total wrong.”

The audience applauded these words, and Clebone added that Meloro’s work in the past year “convinced us that we made the right decision.”

“I don’t think anybody should ever question that the spirit of this department is better than it’s ever been,” Clebone said. “We’re sorry that there are people out there that question you. They’re wrong. We got a great police chief. We got the greatest officers, every one of you. I have heard nothing but good things. Thank you all.”

Clebone and Cizmar said they stand by their decision to promote Meloro as chief, and Meloro is standing his ground that he will do what he believes is best for the township.

During his department reports, Meloro also addressed Coffee With a Cop and thanked Liberty Superintendent Joseph Norha for allowing the police department to hire another school resource officer. He also believes that this year, the department won’t need to borrow money to operate because of income from the speed cameras.

bshiller@tribtoday.com

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