KIRTLAND, Ohio — Kirtland City Council voted to terminate Lance Nosse as Kirtland’s police chief Tuesday night.
The termination hearing wrapped up after two days and more than 12 hours of evidence and witness testimony that Kirtland Mayor Kevin Potter and law director Matthew Lallo brought forward to council members to prove that Nosse violated several city policies in his time as chief of police.
Last month, the mayor of Kirtland filed a termination letter for Chief of Police Lance Nosse after a nearly three-month investigation unveiled multiple instances of misconduct and what the city called "habitual drunkenness."
Nosse planned to resign and retire effective July 2 but then took back that resignation and retirement on July 2 because of a disagreement in the sum of payout. In turn, the city issued the termination letter to Nosse.
In the termination letter, Potter addressed an investigation that found Nosse "guilty in the performance of your official duty of misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, misconduct in office, gross neglect of duty, and/or habitual drunkenness.
In Monday’s hearing, that began at 6:00 p.m. and did not end until 2:00 a.m., several city workers and subordinates of Nosse’s spoke out about him, missing several workdays, creating a hostile work environment, using derogatory and racially charged language including the 'N' word, misusing a city-issued phone for personal use that resulted in an overage charge, and the city presented a video to council that showed Nosse throwing out alcoholic beverage cans from his city-issued vehicle.
Frank Consolo, Nosse’s attorney, called the allegations against him unfounded and said it comes down to the mayor and police union, the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, wanting him out of the department.
But during Tuesday’s hearing, council heard from Lance Nosse himself.
His testimony was, at times, emotional. He admitted to council that he had a drinking problem and was an alcoholic.
He said he went to rehab for alcoholism and approached Potter about the problem. He said while he was in rehab, he had no idea city officials were conducting an internal investigation.
“I really couldn’t comprehend how sick I was, not just emotionally, but physically,” he said when he realized he had a drinking problem.
His attorney, Consolo, said Nosse should’ve been put on FMLA.
“There's a responsibility of the administration to interact with Chief Nosse under Family Medical Leave Act, under the American with Disabilities Act. This is basic,” he said.
Nosse went on to admit he used a city-issued phone for personal use but did not know it violated any type of policy.
“There is no cellphone policy for the city,” he said. “The phones were granted for our use personal or work, didn’t matter.”
He also told council he never drove his city issued car impaired and that the video Lallo showed to council was when he was off-duty.
“I pulled into his driveway, I did open a beer, I did drink the beer in his driveway, the car was parked,” he said. “I never drank while I was on duty, ever.”
Nosse denied making derogatory comments towards anyone based on their sexual orientation or race.
“I never used any words relative to anybody’s sex, color, or region regarding anything with them personally,” he said.
He called the internal investigation against him a witch hunt and, admitted, he made mistakes, but didn’t deserve to be fired for them.
“I don’t feel termination is warranted for somebody that has a problem,” he said. “I’m a very good chief. I’m a very good police officer. I make mistakes. I deserve discipline.”
But Lallo argued that the evidence they brought forward warranted termination, and said the police chief is held to a higher standard. He said if Nosse continued to be the leader of the police department, it would put a stain on the city.
“What he’s trying to get you to say is, ‘You know what? You’re an alcoholic I’m going to give you a free pass,’ said Lallo. “This is not a witch-hunt brought by the OPBA and the police department.”
Six council members voted to terminate Nosse. Councilwoman Kelly Wolfe was the only council member to vote in favor of Nosse keeping his position as chief.
In evidence brought forth by the city, it was revealed Nosse and Wolfe had a relationship. News 5 asked Potter if he thought Wolfe should’ve recused herself from the hearing and vote, but he did not have a comment.
News 5 also asked Nosse for a comment after the vote to which he referred to his attorney, his attorney said he did not wish to comment at this time.