Warfield Represents Change Police Department Needs

To the Editors:

I am writing regarding the Review’s Nov. 3 article “Oberlin Police Chief Hire Sparks Controversy Within Department.” Readers who did not follow the process closely might not be aware of the thought and care that went into the police chief search.

This past spring, Oberlin City Manager Rob Hillard conducted five listening sessions to determine what our community desires in its police chief and police department. Listening session participants — a total of 180 people from all segments of the community — expressed a clear vision for policing that focuses on developing positive relationships between the police and Oberlin residents. A summary of the listening sessions, including details of the session held on campus, is linked from the community voices page of the city’s website at https://goo.gl/sWsFZ3.

The panel reviewed all the applicants, and the panel included five people who had extensive experience in police work. Four of the five were Oberlin residents and one of those four is a former city councilmember. Two of the four are members of the civil service commission, which oversees the city’s policies for police and fire personnel. The city’s human resources administrator and the city manager also worked with the panel.

Mr. Warfield emerged as the clear preferred candidate from this process. He was viewed as the candidate best able to realize the vision for the Oberlin Police Department that our community has expressed. He also passed an extensive background check. I am delighted that he has now accepted the position and will begin work as Oberlin’s new police chief Nov. 20.

As an Oberlin citizen, I find it both disturbing and unacceptable that the three police sergeants questioned the search process by implying Mr. Warfield is unqualified and that they also bypassed the city manager in sending their letter to members of City Council. Their actions show fundamental disrespect for the city’s administrative structures and processes.

The three sergeants’ behavior is a clear indication that change is needed in Oberlin’s police department. I urge community members to join in supporting the city administration and Chief Warfield in working for a police department that realizes the vision that Oberlin citizens, including many members of the College community, have expressed.

Ray English
Director of Libraries Emeritus