Olean officials debate residency as police chief prepares to retire - The Buffalo News
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Olean officials debate residency as police chief prepares to retire

OLEAN – A replacement for Olean Police Chief Terry Schnell, who is set to retire Saturday, was on the minds of officials during a Common Council committee meeting Tuesday night.

Olean Mayor William J. Aiello, who reportedly has submitted the name of a candidate, is on record as favoring someone who will live in the city.

William “Bud” Fromme, a longtime resident of the city and former city firefighter, told the Council that he supports Aiello on his residency preference.

“All of the employees of the city should do a good enough job to want to live in the city,” he said. “We should let this go to the voters. This needs to be on the ballot in November to let city taxpayers decide the policy. If it passes, maybe all city employees should have to live within the city.”

Some members of the city’s police force disagree. Capt. Jeff Rowley believes the residency requirement is archaic and has no bearing on modern policing and staffing.

The city had a residency requirement for employees until 2008, when it was nullified to increase the pool of qualified candidates for jobs.

“Where I live has nothing to do with how I protect the people of the city,” Rowley said. “Where you live has nothing to do with how good of a job you do.”

Jason Hlasnik, a city police officer and school resource officer for the Olean School District, noted the district does a lot of hiring from outside the city.

“I can tell you that of the 11 administrators in that school, seven live outside the district,” he said. “I can also tell you that many teachers live outside the district, as well. We want the best person for the job, not based on where they live.”

Even the outgoing chief said he believes that a commitment to the city isn’t “defined by a boundary of where you live.”

“I live in the city by choice,” Schnell said. “If I decided to live outside the city, it wouldn’t limit the compassion I have for the city at all.”

While the search for a new chief continues, four department captains will run the department.

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