Wauseon will lose its longtime police chief in August to another city position.
Keith Torbet has been appointed to fill the vacancy being left by Public Service Director Dennis Richardson, who is retiring Sept. 1. Torbet will leave the police force Aug. 1.
Mayor Kathy Huner announced the appointment June 13 at a Wauseon Chamber of Commerce meeting. She did not return requests for comment.
Torbet will work alongside Richardson for one month before taking the office. He may continue his police duties part-time during the transition.
No replacement for Torbet has been named. Candidates within the police department will be sought for two weeks before the position could be advertised elsewhere. The city hopes to fill the position by July.
Torbet, 56, is a 35-year veteran of the Wauseon Police Department. He was hired as an auxiliary officer in 1984, and became a full-time officer three years later. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1998, then to assistant police chief in 2000. Torbet became police chief in 2003.
He had been contemplating retirement from the police force next year before the city’s public service director position became available.
“You’ve always got to have new goals and aspirations,” Torbet said. “I was at the point where I was looking to do something different. This was an opportunity to stay with the city and give myself different challenges. I like working for the city, and they’ve been very good to me.”
His accomplishments as police chief include 24-hour dispatching, a full-time staff of 14 officers, his creation of the Police Explorer Program in 2010, and the development of lieutenant, sergeant, assistant chief, bicycle, and school resource officer positions. He considers his biggest accomplishment to be keeping the department fully staffed during the the length of the recession that hit in 2008.
“We were able to keep everyone on staff…without sacrificing services to the city,” Torbet said.
During his tenure, he also saw his son, Kaleb, join the force.
Only one of Torbet’s goals for the department wasn’t met: a new police building. “It’s just not financially feasible at this time,” he said.
He said he’d like to remain public service director for a decade, then retire. He said Richardson recently developed a 10-year forecast for city operations, “really a wonderful blueprint for me.”
In his new position, Torbet will push for additional economic development in the city and work to bolster the city’s general fund. He said he’s fortunate Wauseon has “some wonderful (department) supervisors who do the day-to-day operations.”
Despite leaving the police department, Torbet plans to retain the police certification he worked so hard for. He said he would have remained as chief had the new position not presented itself.
”I love this job. I’m looking forward to the (new) challenge but its hard to say goodbye,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.