Preisch applying for LPD chief's post

Steven Preisch

The top three scorers on the police chief civil service test are not currently city residents, Interim Lockport Police Chief Steven Preisch said on Friday. 

Two exams were given to fill the vacancy at the top of LPD with the retirement of Police Chief Michael Niethe last year. The promotional exam is only available to candidates within the Lockport Police Department and the city could be required to consider this exam's top scorers over those who scored well on the open competitive exam, which is an exam that both LPD employees and applicants outside of the department can take.

On the promotional exam civil service list, the top scorers in order were Det. Capt. Anthony Palumbo, Det. Lt. Todd Chenez and Lt. Toby Trowbridge, according to Preisch, who was given the civil service list. Patrol Capt. Douglas Haak Jr. and Lt. Salvatore Licata also passed the test.

The three top scorers have served many years in LPD, with Palumbo serving since 1995, Chenez since 2000 and Trowbridge since 2008, according to a seniority list of LPD provided by the city clerk's office. 

On the open competitive exam, the top scorers in order were: Palumbo; retired LPD Det. Lt. Steven Abbott; retired LPD Capt. Jeffrey Brodsky; Niagara County Sheriff's Office Drug Task Force Capt. Scott Lombardo; Haak; Licata and NCSO Chief Deputy Patrick Weidel. 

Fifth Ward Alderman Rick Abbott, also a member of the police board of commissioners, said the police board will need to decide on the residency requirement because the city charter requires the police chief to live in the city. Palumbo, Chenez and Trowbridge do not live in the city currently, but Haak and Licata do, according to Preisch. 

If Palumbo, Chenez and Trowbridge don't want to move into the city, then the police board will be able to look at Haak and Licata or the candidates on the open competitive list, Abbott said. 

Two exams are being given after city administration struggled to define the parameters of an appropriate candidate search.

Last summer, the common council contracted with California-based Public Sector Search & Consulting, Inc. to run a nationwide search for candidates, then a while later learned that, due to civil service rules, only New York state-certified police officers were eligible for consideration. The candidate search was launched anew and in late November-early December the police board of commissioners appeared prepared to hire a finalist, whose status would be provisional pending his or her performance on a then-unscheduled civil service exam.

The police board delayed that decision in an attempt to ask the Civil Service Commission to take down the promotional exam posting, but the commission ended up choosing to keep both exams.