Police chief stepping down Friday, months ahead of schedule

By Evan Goodenow - egoodenow@civitasmedia.com




Police chief Juan Torres’ last day is Friday.

Torres had been planning to quit in April due to a family member’s illness. He will return to Alexandria, Va., where his wife and son live.

“We support Juan 100 percent and wish him well,” Oberlin city manager Rob Hillard said.

Torres couldn’t be reached regarding why he’s leaving earlier than planned.

Hillard, who will choose a new chief, named Lt. Michael McCloskey interim chief. A search firm helped in the last hiring but Hillard said because Torres was hired just 17 months ago, city officials have a “road map” and the search will be done in-house.

Hillard plans to provide hiring details to city council members at their Jan. 17 meeting . “It’s a top priority,” he said.

McCloskey, 46, was hired in 1995. He was promoted to sergeant in 2004 and to lieutenant in 2009.

Since being promoted to lieutenant, McCloskey, of Amherst, has served as acting chief when the chief was away. He was interim chief for about a month between chief Tom Miller’s retirement and Torres’ hiring in August of last year. McCloskey was one of 50 applicants for the job when Miller retired and said he plans to reapply.

“It’s something I’ve always aspired to since beginning my career here,” he said. “I’ve been working very hard toward that end goal and I think I have the leadership characteristics that are necessary to move this department forward in the future.”

If hired, McCloskey said improving community relations, training for catastrophic incidents like a mass shooting or domestic terrorism, and dealing with computer crimes would be among his top priorities.

The 18-officer police department is in the process of updating policies and procedures — including use of deadly force — something that hasn’t been done in about 25 years. Other plans for this year include installing GPS units in all police cruisers and providing stun guns to all officers who don’t already have them.

Torres is a former Marine and a police officer in Alexandria from 1991 until coming to Oberlin. He previously said it was painful to have to leave abruptly, but he was proud of his time in Oberlin and believes he was able to improve police-community relations.

“I’m proud of what I did,” Torres said. “Hopefully, the next chief will continue that progress.”

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.



By Evan Goodenow