Names in the News: Police Chief Chris Noga
He calls himself the "accidental" police officer, but the leader of Twinsburg's police force has lead the city through some of it's darkest days
His name is Chris Noga.
Serving as police chief of the Twinsburg Police Department, Noga has kept watch over the city since 2006; he was the department's sixth police chief.
Twinsburg Patch caught up with the Chief Noga to find out more about him and issues facing the city.
Twinsburg Patch: How long have you lived in Twinsburg? What do you love most about the community?
Chris Noga: My wife and I moved into Twinsburg in June 1997, just three months after I was hired by the city as a police officer. I love that while Twinsburg has grown over the last 20 years, the community still retains a small town feel and atmosphere. It’s not only a great place to work, but it’s a great place to raise our two children.
Patch: What about the police force attracted you to the job?
Noga: I’m an “accidental” police officer. I originally went to college (Baldwin-Wallace) to become a high school history teacher, but I started working for the college’s department of safety and security in 1990, first as a student dispatcher and then a year later as a full-time patrol officer. I found I enjoyed the work and jumped into public sector law enforcement in 1995 when I was hired as a police officer for Cleveland State University. After a short time at CSU, I knew I wanted to work as a municipal police officer.
Twinsburg's PD was expanding to keep pace with the growth of the community and I wanted to be a part of that growth, so I was very happy when then Chief Tony Frank offered me a position as a patrol officer. I had plenty of opportunities to develop professionally and personally as an officer assigned to the patrol division and as a sergeant assigned to the detective bureau. Never in a million years did I expect to be appointed police chief, but I am truly blessed to have the position. I have my dream job. I’m grateful to Mayor Procop for her faith and trust in my abilities and for her continuous support.
Patch: Despite incidents here and there, Twinsburg seems like a pretty safe community. Why is that?
Noga: The police are only one part of the safety equation. Community involvement is an equally important part of keeping our city safe and our residents have always been actively supportive of our efforts. People in Twinsburg are always willing to identify potential issues and communicate with us so that we can work together in partnership to maintain a safe community.
Patch: Even though it's safe, what are some crime problems the city faces?
Noga: Like every community, one of the biggest issues we face is the sale and use of illegal narcotics. Illegal drugs destroy lives, not only of the users, but the lives of their loved ones. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in prescription drug abuse as well as the use synthetic drugs which are highly dangerous. Additionally, many illegal drug users are prone to commit property crimes such as burglary or theft in order fund their addictions, so more innocent people are victimized. While our drug problem is not a large scale one, we are very aggressive in narcotics enforcement. We want dealers and users to know that we will not tolerate illegal drug activity in our community.
Patch: When Officer Joshua Miktarian was killed in 2008, how did the community and the police force respond to such a tragedy?
Noga: When people want an example of what is so special about Twinsburg, I point to the community’s response to Josh’s death. We were all shocked. No one ever believes that a police officer could be murdered in their community, even though it can happen anywhere. The community didn’t grieve for us - they grieved with us. Over a thousand people showed up for a candlelight vigil in front of the Government Center the evening after Josh died and on the day of his funeral, thousands of people lined the funeral procession route to pay their respects.
The community raised over $45,000 so that we could endow a scholarship in Josh’s name for graduating seniors at Twinsburg and Tallmadge high schools who want to pursue a career in criminal justice and to purchase a replacement canine unit. They stood with us over the 22 months it took to obtain justice for Josh in the court system. On what were some of the darkest days in the history of Twinsburg, the unwavering support coming from our residents and business community lifted up the department and carried us through those moments. I still smile when I drive through town and see someone displaying one of the “Badge 45” decals we created to honor Josh on their vehicle. After almost four years, people still remember and care on a personal level.
That’s what Twinsburg is all about.