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Published: Wednesday, 9/28/2005

Walbridge: Officials check out candidates for police chief

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The criteria has been set, and the six individuals who have applied for the Walbridge police chief's position are being evaluated before village officials begin the interviewing process.

Lance Martin, the village's part-time police chief, resigned July 29 after two years with the department to pursue other options, Mayor Dan Wilczynski said.

One internal employee and five external candidates applied for the open position before the Aug. 31 deadline passed. They are:

● Allan Baer, a Perrysburg resident who is the Portage, Ohio, police chief and a Bowling Green police officer.

● Ellen Belcik, a Walbridge resident who is a corrections officer with the Wood County Sheriff's Office.

● Donald Hendren, a North Baltimore, Ohio, resident who is a teacher at Penta Career Center. He was the North Baltimore police chief in the mid-1980s after he spent time as an Ohio Highway Patrol officer.

● Ken Hetrick, a Perrysburg resident who has been a police officer for the Walbridge Police Department since 1999.

● Mark Reef, a Toledo resident who is a police officer at Bowling Green State University.

● Alan Williams, a Northwood resident who was a special deputy with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department for one year. Before that, he was a detective and sergeant with the Northwood Police Department from 1979 to 2003.

Mayor Wilczynski said he is evaluating each candidate's resume along with Village Administrator Steve Smith, and Councilmen Ron Liwo and Mark Timmons based on criteria that has been given points related to its importance. The most important criteria for the job is previous experience in police supervision, the number of years of experience as a police officer, and community relations ability.

"We built the criteria first without looking at any applications to make this as objective as we can," the mayor said. "We have a process we use to be objective in all our hiring, and we are going to go through that process like we have always done."

Other criteria given less weight include a degree in law enforcement, additional education and training, a proven ability to work as part of a team, and communication ability.

Though village law states that the police chief has to live in Walbridge, the mayor said the candidates' residency is not high on the priority list.

"It's a law that we've frequently changed," he said. "With the smaller towns, I just think it's not as important. What is important is their ability to respond in emergencies, and to be there if the team needed help."

Village officials individually evaluated the candidates last week, and plan to rank them together this week before inviting the top few scorers in for an interview in the beginning of October.

Sgt. Rick Solether, who has been with the department since 1999, has been the acting chief since the end of July. For his increased responsibilities, the mayor said his pay was bumped from $16.99 an hour to $21 an hour.

But Mr. Solether has not applied for the police chief's position because he said he is pursuing other options with another department.

He said experience is one of the most important qualities a police chief should have. "In my opinion, that's probably stronger than an associate's degree, but a lot of schooling is important, too," he said.

Village officials have not yet determined whether they will hire a full or part-time police chief. A part-time chief would be paid about $21,000 a year, and a full-time chief would be paid $42,000 a year. The chief will be responsible for a typical police force of four full-time officers and four part-time officers.



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