City Manager Makes Final Pick for New Police Chief

Anna Kozler

Elyria Police Sergeant Clarence “Ryan” Warfield was selected as Oberlin’s new police chief last week, filling the vacancy left by former Chief Juan Torres.

Oberlin City Manager Rob Hillard helmed the search that began after Torres’ resignation in December. The final decision was made Aug. 29, bringing the summer-long selection process to a close. Warfield, who has served with the Elyria Police Department since 1994, won the position over 15 other applicants.

“[Warfield] has demonstrated a complete understanding of police training and experience, understands the unique nature and culture of Oberlin, and believes the key component of the future of the Oberlin Police Department is building relationships and continuing to provide professional law enforcement services,” Hillard said in a press release.

Hillard also credited Warfield’s decades of experience as a winning factor. According to Hillard, familiarity with the community was another key qualification.

“He demonstrated a sense of understanding of the community as well as interactions in the college,” Hillard said. “That impressed me.”

Elyria Police Chief Duane Whitely, who has served in the Elyria Police Department for 27 years and has overseen it for seven, also praised Warfield’s knowledge of Lorain County and his ability to connect with its residents.

“[Warfield] is able to cultivate and keep relationships,” Whitely said. “I believe he cares deeply about the community, and that has always guided him and what he’s done as a policeman. He’s always been out in the public and working with the public. It’s just him. It’s just how he is. He’s an outgoing, friendly person.”

Whitely said he felt confident in Warfield, pointing to his extensive work in the Elyria Police Department’s neighborhood impact unit and leadership experience as a field training supervisor.

“With his personality and experience, it was for me somewhat expected that he would probably be picked,” Whitely added. “I think he’s going to do a great job.”

Warfield said he is grateful to be granted the opportunity and is looking forward to this next step in his career.

“I am very grateful to my family, to the city administration, and to the police department and the Oberlin community for giving me this opportunity,” Warfield said. “I’ll do my best to work with the community [and] to work with the police department.”

Although Warfield communicated some trepidation over leaving his department of over two decades behind, he is excited to take on this new role.

“I’m really excited,” Warfield said. “I am happy. I think it’s an awesome, awesome opportunity.”

Hillard navigated the selection process alongside a technical panel, with whom he reviewed the resumes of the original 16 candidates and eliminated nine. Following this first round, the panel conducted interviews with the seven remaining candidates, narrowing the pool to a final four from which Hillard selected Warfield as his top pick.

“I have every confidence that Ryan will provide the leadership that will be embraced by the organization and the community,” Hillard wrote in a press release. “[S]election of a new police chief is not the end, but the beginning of making a positive difference in the City of Oberlin.”

Community input also played a significant role in the selection process. Hillard conducted a series of five listening sessions in February and March, receiving feedback pertaining to the Oberlin Police Department from around 180 townspeople.

Among the candidates considered for the position was Lieutenant Michael McCloskey, who took over as interim chief following Torres’ resignation. Torres had planned to step down in April but pushed the date up to Dec. 31 of last year due to a family member’s illness. McCloskey was still in the running as of this July but was not ultimately chosen for the position.

Hillard expressed his gratitude towards McCloskey, crediting him for his service throughout the transition.

“First, thank you to Lieutenant McCloskey for his leadership over the year,” Hillard wrote in a press release. “He provided stability and made progress on a number of projects during this critical time.”

Warfield’s new position will be finalized following the completion of a background check and negotiations. A start date will be established thereafter.

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