Hillard Should Maintain Commitment to Warfield

To the Editors:

I am writing in response to “Sergeants Oppose Oberlin Police Chief Hire” by Jodi Weinberger that appeared in The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram on Oct. 7, 2017 about three sergeants’ opposition to the Oberlin City Manager’s choice of Clarence “Ryan” Warfield as the police chief of the Oberlin Police Department.

I serve as pastor for Ryan Warfield and his family. Ryan and his family have been active members of our congregation for the past 15 years. I and others encouraged him to apply for the position of police chief. Ryan, born and raised in Lorain, is a 24-year officer in the Elyria Police Department and has a stellar reputation in the Lorain County community. He is clearly committed to reaching out to all citizens of the Oberlin community to change the current limited relationship that I feel the OPD has with its community. Ryan and his family have previously lived in Oberlin. He and his wife Vernita are excited to move back to the Oberlin community and become active and involved members.

As I participated in some of the listening sessions that Rob Hillard held throughout the spring, it was clear to me that the citizens of Oberlin wanted a more comprehensive approach and a new vision for community policing. It was also clear to me that many did not feel that the current ethos among some in the police department’s rank and file was appropriate for Oberlin’s future.

I participated in the advisory interview process for former Chief Juan Torres’ candidacy under the former City Manager Eric Norenberg. I came to know him through our interaction surrounding community concerns regarding how young African-American men were seemingly being singled out by some in the OPD. He was very responsive. Torres was a great community minded leader who truly wanted to implement community policing practices. He met significant opposition from among the ranks of his officers. This opposition letter sent by these three sergeants of the OPD, I think, is reflective of the kind of opposition that Chief Torres experienced in his short stay as chief.

My feeling is that these sergeants are part of the problem that has entrenched the OPD and made it difficult for it to come to reflect on the kind of change that many Oberlin residents are demanding in their police department. The OPD is here to serve its citizens and not to be a closed system unto itself.

My hope is that City Manager Rob Hillard stands by his conviction to swear in Chief Clarence Ryan Warfield as chief of Oberlin Police Department. I hope that Hillard and the City Council will stand with Chief Warfield against unfair accusations and the seemingly recalcitrant officers within the OPD. We as a community will be the better for it.

A.G. Miller
Pastor, Oberlin House of The Lord Fellowship