SALINEVILLE - Residents dealing with a recent rash of burglaries were dealt two harsh blows in their battle against a growing village crime epidemic as Police Chief David Hilliard Jr. and longtime patrolmen Stephen Thomas both turned in letters of resignation to the village council Monday night.
A few minutes into the Monday's meeting, Mayor Mary Smith announced council would be going into an executive session at the request of Hilliard to discuss the employment of village personnel.
After a roughly 20 minute executive session, council returned to its regular session to break the bad news to the public.
As Smith announced Hilliard would be resigning as police chief at the end of the month, an audible groan rose from an audience of weary residents, many of whom were on hand to voice concern over recent break-ins and talk over plans for a neighborhood watch group.
Hilliard's letter to council stated that between his full time job as an officer in Lisbon and his family life, he is unable to devote enough time to his duties as police chief.
"The village of Salineville is in need of a police chief that can dedicate more time than I am available for," read Hilliard's letter of resignation.
Hilliard's letter stated he had no hard feelings toward the village council or the mayor; however, the letter did stress the village is in need of a full time police force.
"When asking me to run a police department as a part time chief with part time officers, it makes it almost impossible to have your (village) crime decrease," read Hilliard's letter.
Hilliard also offers to help council select the village's next chief and thanks council for giving him the opportunity to be chief.
Hilliard's last day as chief will be Sept. 30. Village council voted unanimously to accept his resignation.
"I hate to see him go, he was doing such a great job," said Smith.
After one bit of bad news came another as Smith read aloud a letter of resignation from Officer Stephen Thomas.
Thomas' letter of resignation stated he has full time employment elsewhere and found that making the lengthy drive to Salineville was no longer practical for him.
Thomas had been with the village for about a year and a half and had served on the department prior to that.
He was the longest serving officer currently on the force and had served for a time as 'acting-chief' following the resignation of former Chief Terry McElroy in April of this year.
His letter states he will work the remainder of his schedule for September before leaving the department. All council members except for Councilmen Tom Hays voted yes to accept his resignation.
The departure of Hilliard and Thomas at the end of this month will leave the village with three active officers.
Council voted to place an advertisement in the local newspaper in hopes of hiring at least two more officers.
As for the chief's vacated position, Smith said Hilliard has put forward several candidates to possibly fill the position.
"The chief said he's going to work with us," said Smith. "He has a couple candidates for police chief to help make the transition smooth and I'm not really worried about that."