By MORGAN MANNS
After a nearly two-year hiatus, Fostoria Police Department now has its new top cop.
Fostoria Fire Chief Keith Loreno was selected to protect and serve the city of Fostoria as its new chief of police during Tuesday night’s meeting of Fostoria City Council.
Mayor Eric Keckler said the decision to elect Loreno, who has served as the city’s fire chief since 2010, as chief of police was unanimous among the council members and the selection committee.
“The committee had a pretty strong feeling that (Loreno) would do a good job and he was a good choice,” he said. “We know the leadership style that (Loreno) has and the kind of unique opportunity where our fire chief also has very strong police background and credentials. Knowing what he brought to the table, we thought that was a good next step for our police department.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to have (Loreno) start his new adventure as police chief.”
The search for the new chief of police began after former Police Chief John McGuire retired in December 2013.
Loreno said his decision was not a light one, adding that he didn’t want his fire family to feel he was abandoning them.
“I in no way want to give the impression that there is any issue in the fire division,” he said. “This was a personal decision. I was approached by different people to go ahead and put (my application) in as a potential candidate and I did and went through the process and this is where it is.
“I had a lot of internal discussion with myself and my family. I wanted to do what would be the best decision for us. I sat down and took a pad out and wrote down the pros and cons. It’s been a tough process for me internally.”
In addition to being Fostoria’s fire chief, Loreno also serves as the deputy sheriff for the Medina County Sheriff’s Office grants unit. His extensive background in both police and fire services include serving as sergeant at Sycamore Police Department; reserve patrolman at Perry Township Police District in Dublin; assistant chief and arson investigator for the State Fire Marshal in Reynoldsburg; consultant at Sycamore Fire Department; firefighter at Helena Community Volunteer Fire Department; lieutenant at Pleasant Valley Fire District in Plain City; and EMS/Fire Prevention officer at The Ohio State University.
Fostoria Police Capt. Patrick Brooks, who has served as the interim head of the police department since McGuire’s extended medical leave of absence in July 2012, and Seneca County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. Donald Joseph of Tiffin were the other final candidates in the search for the city’s police chief.
“There wasn’t anything wrong with the other candidates,” Keckler said. “(Brooks) stepped right up to help us out when we needed the help and we can’t thank him enough for all he’s done in the interim. It’s certainly no reflection on (Brooks) or what kind of person he is. The choice seemed to be (Loreno) had a lot of good credentials and brought a lot of good things to the job.”
The other candidates included Tiffin Police Lt. Aaron Russel of Tiffin, Tiffin Police Sgt. Douglas Hubaker of Perrysburg, Seneca County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ronald Green of Tiffin, Pioneer Police Chief Timothy Livengood of Montpelier, and Louisiana State Police Homicide Detective/Senior Trooper D. Scott Brooks of Choudrant, La.
According to the official chief of police position description, the successful candidate must have a minimum of 10 years as a full-time Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy certified peace officer with a city/county/state police division/department, or 15 years as a part-time officer at a village police division/department.
A bachelor’s degree (or higher) of 15 years of relevant life experience such as military police work, village/city police service, or time as a police instructor is also required.
“I’m anxious; it’s a lot of responsibility, just like the fire station,” Loreno said. “When you’re responsible for people there are high expectations and I have high expectations for all the police officers and I have high expectations for myself.”
Loreno will go through a transition period over the next few weeks, continuing his position as fire chief until the next City Council meeting on May 6 when he is expected to be sworn in, according to Keckler. This will allow city officials to discuss the next steps in finding a new fire chief.
Loreno’s annual income as fire chief was roughly $69,742. The city pays the police chief $71,240 annually.
According to the Fostoria City Charter, the mayor will select the next fire chief.
Keckler said the selection process for the city’s new fire chief will be the same as the selection process for the chief of police position, aside from the selection committee, which will consist of Keckler, Safety Service Director Allyson Murray, one councilperson, a member of Fostoria Civil Service Commission, a firefighter from a recognized division/department and a member of the public not associated with the city.
The city will advertise the vacant position, accept applications, set up a selection committee, select a few top candidates, interview them, make their selection and present that selection to council members.
“This opportunity just doesn’t come all the time,” Loreno said. “It was there and it was something I decided to explore.
“I’m overwhelmed. I’m certainly appreciative that the mayor, safety service director and the council members have the confidence in me.”
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