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Tonawanda Town Board taps Uschold as next police chief

The Tonawanda Town Board has named a successor to retiring Police Chief Anthony J. Palombo.

Assistant Police Chief Jerome C. Uschold, a 31-year veteran of the department, has been tapped to replace Palombo next month.

“Assistant Chief Uschold has spent the last eight-plus years being responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the department along with Chief Palombo,” Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana said Monday night while announcing the appointment. “His extensive executive management, supervisory and law enforcement expertise will make him a great successor to our outgoing and outstanding police chief.”

Uschold, a lifelong town resident, was hired in February 1984 and promoted to lieutenant in 1989, captain in 2004 and his current position in 2007. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a member of the department’s SWAT team.

He was chosen from a field of three internal candidates to lead the department of 105 officers and 50 other full-time employees that include dispatchers, clerks and paramedics. The position pays $124,759 annually.

“Most of what I want to do is a continuation of the things that Chief Palombo has started,” Uschold, 56, told The Buffalo News. “I want to expand our crisis intervention program, which helps people in mental or emotional crisis. I would like to continue to work with the various minority groups throughout the Western New York area.”

Uschold said he and other town police officials have met with representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a local Iraqi immigrants group.

“I’d like to expand on that for a little more cultural diversity and understanding,” he said.

Town police were accused of racial profiling in late 2013 after several African-American men said they were unfairly stopped by officers. Uschold said he has taken those concerns seriously.

“We have a different perspective than the African-American community has about law enforcement,” Uschold said. “We look at it arrogantly that we’re right all the time and they look at it, at times, as us victimizing them, which to me, 10 years ago, I would not have understood that. Now, I sort of do. I try to.”

A formal installation is planned for late February. Palombo, 58, a 32-year veteran of the department, has been chief since 2007. His last day on the job is Feb. 20.

Interviews for Uschold’s successor as assistant chief are ongoing with an announcement of a selection expected in the next several weeks, Caruana said.