Council votes to rename police station in Hruby’s honor

by Melissa Martin

May 21 city council meeting

City Council approved emergency legislation to rename the Brecksville police station the Jerry N. Hruby Public Safety Center.

Mayor Daryl Kingston said the city has a longstanding policy to prohibit naming public facilities after city officials or any individuals. However, he told council that in Hruby’s case, he believes an exception is warranted.

As mayor, Kingston said, he does not have authority to vote on legislation, however the mayor does have the ability to introduce legislation.

“This is not done frequently,” Kingston said, noting he could not recall a time in Hruby’s 36 years as mayor that he introduced legislation. “This is the first time I’ve ever done it, and I may never do it again.”

Kingston explained that in recognition of Hruby’s decades of service to the city and his accomplishments, he felt it was important to request the resolution to rename the police station be introduced.

“We have named portions of buildings after people in Brecksville, including the Jack A. Hruby Natatorium and the Ralph W. Biggs City Council Chambers, but putting someone’s name in perpetuity on a building is something that was never done before and is not a decision I took lightly,” Kingston said. “Listening to this resolution be read, there is no one more worth that honor in my opinion, and we may never have another person worthy in our lifetime.”

Hruby, a lifelong Brecksville resident, began working for the city of Brecksville in 1968 when he served as a narcotics investigator for the police department. He was promoted to full-time patrol officer in 1969 and to sergeant in 1970. Seven years later he was promoted to lieutenant.

The resolution credits him with “making local and national headlines” for his work in investigating numerous major criminal cases involving homicides, organized crime, drugs, bank frauds, major burglaries and political corruption.

In 1988, following the death of his brother, former Mayor Jack A. Hruby, Jerry Hruby became Brecksville’s 11th mayor. He went on to serve nine terms.

“During his 36 years in office, Mayor Hruby’s steadfast dedication has been evident with his many roles with the city as safety director, economic development director, acting service director twice, city historian – always preserving the essence of Brecksville with the slogan he created – ‘building our future with respect for our past,’” the resolution states.

The legislation also lists numerous projects completed under his direction, including construction of the community center in 1992, along with the construction of the community center natatorium, the Valor Acres development and several others. He was also praised for the role he played in assuring that several community facilities were built, including the Brecksville branch of the Cuyahoga County Library and the shared fieldhouse at Blossom Hill, constructed through cooperation with the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District.

It was also noted that despite all the additions and improvements to the community created under Hruby’s administration, property taxes were never raised during the nine terms he served as mayor.

“He has given a lifetime to the city he loves, not only for the residents but for the family he loves,” the resolution concludes. 

Council President Dominic Caruso said he believes the honor is “extremely fitting.”

“As many of the people in this room know, a few years ago we had a request to have a protest in town. At the time, these types of protests were happening all over our country, causing a lot of damage in major cities,” Caruso said. Mayor Hruby always took his role as safety director extremely seriously. … In preparation for that event, he worked closely with Police Chief [William] Goodrich and our first responders and even the county and federal levels to make sure we had backup law enforcement waiting in the wings if the protest went in a direction that we did not want to see it go in.

“Many people don’t realize this, but other than downtown Cleveland, Brecksville hosted the largest Black Lives Matter protest in the state of Ohio. Not a single window was broken. It did turn illegal in that [participants] blocked the streets. That was not permitted. But people were safe. Our police force and our first responders conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism in a very stressful environment and I think that just speaks to [Hruby’s] steady hand and his leadership and that’s something that I appreciate.”

Caruso said Hruby told council before leaving office at the end of 2023 that he “didn’t want his name on anything.”

“Tough!” Caruso told Hruby, who received a standing ovation from council as well as the individuals in attendance. “Deal with it. You earned it.”

Hruby said he was taken aback by the honor.

“I really appreciate this,” he said. “You don’t know how difficult this is for me to accept this. I’m so proud, but at the same time I look out and it was you guys. It wasn’t me. It was all the people that I worked with.”

Hruby credited the police force, firefighters and all other city departments for helping him shine over the years.

“I get the honor of it but it’s almost like I always said, I don’t want my name on anything, and I don’t need it on anything. You know I [was] the mayor. I [was] here and then I’m going to be gone. … One day that sign will go up there and I’ll be looking every day to see if you’re taking it down,” Hruby joked.

Kids Quarters

Council awarded the bid to complete the first phase of the Kids Quarters renovation — including an ADA-accessible path, stairs and an accessible path leading from the community center to the Kids Quarters Playground — to F. Buddie Contracting Ltd. at a cost of $213,065.

Recreation Director Rachele Engle said the contractor has 60 days to begin the project.

Engle said the city will hold public meetings on Monday, June 24 and Friday, July 9. Both meetings will take place from 5-7 p.m. in the community rooms at the community center. She said boards will be set up to allow residents to communicate what they want the playground to include and what features they are looking forward to most. ∞