LAKE TWP. — Uniontown Police Chief Harold Britt said "it's time to just take a step back, take a break and pull everything together."
Britt resigned Monday night during the Lake Township trustees meeting. He has since cleared out his office and posted an announcement on the Uniontown Police Department's Facebook page explaining his reasoning.
In the announcement, he said his decision "was beneficial for my family and me." He called the trustees "understanding and supportive," and he wrote "the past seven years as Chief has been a wonderful experience, but it is time for change. The officers at the Uniontown PD are wonderful and do an excellent job. I have made lifelong friends here. Over my years in Law Enforcement I have sacrificed my body, my mind, my family and my soul, and it is time for change."
He also said he may remain in law enforcement, "but not to the extent I am now."
John Arnold, president of the three-member township trustees board, said Britt was called into the executive session to discuss a date to put on documents for retiring police Sgt. Dave White.
White, who was shot four times during a call involving a domestic dispute in July, announced last month he intends to retire. Trustees authorized the fiscal officer to purchase six years of Ohio Public Retirement System credit and four years of military service credit to enable White to retire.
Arnold said Tuesday morning the trustees needed to know some dates for paperwork they needed to sign, so they called Britt into closed-door session.
"We had all the documents in order so (White) could retire," Arnold said. "That's something we were glad we were able to do for Dave. We just wanted to make sure we had clarification on the dates."
Then Britt announced his own intention to retire — immediately.
Arnold said the chief's position comes with "a lot of pressure," but he was surprised by Britt's announcement Monday night. "This is not something we saw coming at the beginning of the year."
"It wears you down," Britt said of the chief's role. "It's just a good time to look at other options."
Some of his friends in law enforcement — and others who are not — have offered him positions, some of which are part-time, "or something that won't be at the same pace" as the chief's post, Britt said. "I may go into a different level of law enforcement, or part time."
Britt said he may even return to the Summit County Sheriff's Office.
A 1989 graduate of Lake High School who served three years in the U.S. Air Force with tours in Desert Storm in Iraq, Britt graduated from Kent State University and went on to serve 13 years with the Summit County Sheriff's Office.
He returned to Uniontown as chief, replacing Jack Coontz.
Britt said he enjoyed his work as chief.
"(Uniontown) was a great place to work, it was a great place to live and it's a great department. It was a pleasure being there. And the community has been overwhelmingly supportive," he said.
He recommended his next-in-command, Lt. Mike Batchik, as a replacement.
"He'd be an excellent fit. He's from the area and he is more than qualified," Britt said.
Trustees are in no hurry to start a search.
Arnold confirmed that Batchik is the acting chief now that Britt has resigned, but trustees have not set a timeline for a replacement.
Lori Steineck is a staff writer for The Canton Repository.