Juan Torres of the Alexandria police department in Virginia has been selected as Oberlin’s new police chief.
A 26-year law enforcement veteran has been hired to lead the Oberlin police department.
Juan Torres was chosen Friday as the city’s new police chief from a pool of 50 applicants. He will replace former chief Thomas Miller who retired July 3.
Torres hails from the Alexandria police department in Virginia where he has worked since 1991, most recently as a captain supervising 40 of its 346 police officers. He previously was a sheriff’s deputy for two years.
The new chief said he was interested in coming to Oberlin because he has family in the area and liked the small city.
“I grew up in a small city in Puerto Rico,” he said. “Oberlin has kind of the same government entities like we do here, city council and a city manager.”
Oberlin only has 24 full-time police employees with 17 officers, six dispatchers, and an administrative coordinator.
“I was interested in the smaller department because of its cohesiveness and to be able to get know the officers,” Torres said.
He became interested in taking a chief position in the last few years as he moved up through the ranks and became president of the Police Commanders’ Association.
The Alexandria department has seen crime drop by 10 percent in the past year. Torres played a part in the remedy by putting an end-of-the-school-year operational plan in plan for the department and coordinating a multi-agency response after a gang-related homicide.
“One of the strengths I think of Juan Torres is his experience in a department where hes been involved in community policing,” said city manager Eric Norenberg.
Torres was chosen over finalists Kenneth Klamar, Michael McCloskey, and Kevin Scalli.
Norenberg said Torres impressed a lot of people during the interview process because he was captain of a very diverse part of Alexandria.
“I think a fresh perspective and new ideas would be good and beneficial to the department and community,” Norenberg said.
Torres does not have any plans to change the Oberlin police department when he takes office next month.
“That’s a very well-run city and professional police department,” he said. “It has made me more and more excited about applying for the position.”
Torres said the first thing he wants to do is meet the officers and staff at the department and then meet city officials and community members.
“I want to meet with people and listen to their concerns to then improve and enhance policing,” he said.
His first day will be Aug. 3.
He will be introduced to city council members at their meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 17.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
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