Lockport officials hit roadblock in search for new police chief

Local News

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Lockport officials say they’ve hit a roadblock in their search for a new police chief.

“We actually don’t know where we are at the moment,” said Rick Abbott, common council member and police commissioner.

The police department could be back at square one in its search for a new Lockport police chief. This comes after the longtime interim chief Steven Priesch had his last day Monday, September 28th.

“People actually really respected Steve. They respected what he brought to the department, he was a fair individual and at the end of the day they would’ve been happy to have Steve,” said Abbott.

But police commissioner Rick Abbott says Priesch didn’t live in the city of Lockport, which is a requirement to be hired as chief.

Abbott says the police board interviewed three candidates last month who are currently employed by the department. But he says according to the corporation counsel, two of them may be disqualified.

“One person could not hold the position because his son is a current policemen, patrolmen for the Lockport police department,” said Abbott.

Another candidate said during the process that he won’t be able to move into the city of Lockport which is a requirement.

“What we’re hearing is that you can’t disqualify the person until you offer them the job but it almost sounds like you’re the bully in school that someone’s offering you a piece of candy and you say yes and they say sorry you can’t have it. That just doesn’t seem fair,” said Abbott.

If those candidates are ineligible, the police board has to figure out other options. According to Abbott, one option might be to open the search to another candidate list, which includes retired Lockport police officers and Niagara County sheriff deputies.

For now, Abbott says Capt. Doug Haak has been named as acting chief.

The police board is scheduled to meet next Monday. Abbott says hopefully by then the Civil Service Commission will give a decision on whether those two candidates are disqualified or if the board can move on to the other candidate list.

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