Field narrows to seven candidates in Oberlin police chief search

By Laurie Hamame -

Seven finalists have emerged in the search for a new Oberlin chief of police.

Sixteen applicants filed resumes with city manager Rob Hillard’s office. The handful under consideration all hail from Ohio police departments.

At the top of the list are candidates Michael McCloskey, Oberlin PD; Victor Ortiz, Oberlin PD; Clarence Warfield, Elyria PD; Richard Hardy, Grove City PD; Michael Failing, who works for both the Lorain and Amherst police; Robert Gonzalez, Eastlake PD; and Michael Kranz, Springfield PD.

McCloskey has been interim chief since December 2016, succeeding Juan Torres.

Hired as a lieutenant for the administrative side of the Oberlin police department in 2009, he has worked in the city for 22 consecutive years. He previously served as a sergeant for five years and a patrol officer for nine.

In his resume, McCloskey said his key accomplishments include improving police fuel efficiency and reducing emissions, instituting an electronic fingerprint system for criminal processing, and implementing a body camera project.

Ortiz has worked in Oberlin since 1996, according to his resume, and was promoted to sergeant in 2010. He was honored as Police Officer of the Year in 2002. He served in the Navy from 1990 to 1995.

In 21 years with the Oberlin police, he rewrote the patrol officer field training manual, drafted a new supervisor training plan, and started a drug unit, where he wrote the policy, prepared the budget, and acquired equipment.

Ortiz also regularly teaches at the Lorain County Community College Basic Police Academy and is fluent in Spanish.

Formerly a police academy instructor specializing in defense tactics such as krav maga, Warfield has served the city of Elyria since 1994.

“I have a talent for diffusing potentially volatile situations with tact and diplomacy,” he wrote on his resume. “I have proven to be a strong administrator, my officers are highly productive, and under my supervision they have performed their duties in a safe and courteous manner.”

As a detective from 1999 to 2003, Warfield led investigations on several “detailed and complicated” high-profile criminal cases.

On his resume, Warfield listed interrogation, voice analysis, body language study, youth violence training, and death scene investigations among his key accomplishments.

Hardy has served on the Grove City police force for 27 years, including 17 years in leadership roles. He was hired as the community services bureau sergeant in 2009, delivering public presentations on school violence and active shooter scenarios.

He helped develop a safety committee with the Elyria school district and worked with both police officers and firefighters to implement an Incident Command System, a response plan to achieve command and control of an emergency.

As an investigative bureau supervisor for six years, Hardy fostered relationships with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend suspected criminals.

Failing, acting captain and supervising lieutenant of the Lorain police department since 1994, said he is “recognized as an organized self-starter with proven success in analyzing criminal patterns and developing effective investigative strategies positively impacting crime reduction” on his resume.

He is responsible for all new major initiatives and has developed a crime analyst program, leading to a reduction of incidents in major crime areas in Lorain. He also acts as a field training officer for new recruits on evidence collection and gang symbols.

In 2008, he accepted a second job as a road patrol officer in Amherst to “gain additional law enforcement experience of policing in a smaller, non-minority community.”

Failing’s military experience includes the Ohio National Guard from 1994 to 2002.

Gonzalez, an executive officer and detective lieutenant, has more than 30 years in developing crime prevention, intervention, and enforcement programs in Eastlake. He formed the first police bicycle control unit in Ohio and the first regional traffic crash reconstruction unit for Lake County, where a special team investigates fatal car crashes.

“I have effective and progressive leadership skills and abilities to motivate others through positive approaches and leading by example,” Gonzalez wrote on his resume.

He has served as an officer with the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force as well as an acting chief during the absence of Eastlake’s chief.

Kranz has served in Springfield for 23 years, including five years as a sergeant and three years as a patrol lieutenant.

He previously supervised a narcotics unit where he managed “buy funds” for undercover drug purchases as well as the collection, seizure and forfeiture of cash, property, and vehicles. These cases involved a range of investigative techniques and working with local, state, and federal agencies.

His background includes leading units in an “urban, multicultural environment” and working closely with neighborhood and special interest groups on community projects.

Hillard, who is responsible for hiring a new Oberlin chief, said he wants to make a selection by the end of the summer.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame