City of Lockport sig

City of Lockport seal

Assistant city attorney David Haylett said Thursday the police chief is required by city law to reside within the city.

Haylett gave a different opinion to the police board two days earlier. He attributed the confusion to two conflicting state laws that let municipalities with small police departments — defined as having fewer than 200 officers — pass local laws requiring police to be residents.

In 2005, the city passed a local law requiring police officers to live in the city, but in 2008, the Lockport police union negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that excluded officers from the requirement, according to Haylett. However, the police chief is not a member of the police union.

The board is aiming to hire a long-term replacement for Chief Mike Niethe, who retired in June 2018. The top two-scoring candidates on the promotional exam for chief, Det. Capt. Anthony Palumbo and Det. Lt. Todd Chenez, do not currently live in the city, while Capt. Douglas Haak Jr. and Lt. Salvatore Licata — the third- and fourth-placing candidates — do. Lt. Toby Trowbridge scored the third-highest, but has since removed himself from consideration, according to Civil Service Secretary Mary Pat Holz.

Haylett said the city law gives employees a "grace period" to move into Lockport after they are hired.