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Town of Tonawanda's acting police chief takes the job – for good

Acting Police Chief James Stauffiger's performance during a period when Town of Tonawanda police have investigated two homicides convinced town officials he's the only person they needed to interview to fill the job going forward.

The Town Board unanimously confirmed Stauffiger's appointment at its meeting Monday night.

"There's no hesitation on anybody's part to name the acting chief to the permanent position," Town Supervisor Joseph Emminger said.

Stauffiger has served as acting chief since embattled former Chief Jerome C. Uschold III left the post on Aug. 19.

Uschold's retirement, which took effect Sept. 6, followed the arrests of four police officers and paramedics dating back to last December.

The Town Board in June voted to rescind a 2% pay raise that Uschold was scheduled to receive July 1, with Emminger saying board members weren't satisfied with the chief's job performance.

Stauffiger has served with the town police since 1990. He worked his way up through the ranks until becoming assistant police chief in early 2015.

Stauffiger and a captain in the department were the only people on the active civil service list for the chief's position, Emminger said. The captain, who the supervisor wouldn't name, declined to be interviewed for the job.

Emminger said town officials briefly considered looking outside the department for Uschold's replacement but Stauffiger soon convinced them he was the right person for the job.

"He has communicated well, not only with the Town Board, but also with his administrative team and rank and file, and the public, in my opinion," Emminger said. "And he's well qualified to be chief."

Stauffiger has held several news conferences since taking over as acting chief to provide updates on a pair of homicide investigations in the town.

Town police within days arrested a Buffalo man in the stabbing death of town resident Mark Bottita on Sept. 21 in the Old Town neighborhood along the border with Buffalo.

However, police have not announced any arrests in a high-profile triple shooting on Aug. 27 in an Ebling Avenue home that left Danielle Cretacci dead and her daughters wounded. Stauffiger has been tight-lipped about this case, regularly responding to reporters that he doesn't want to jeopardize the investigation.

Stauffiger will earn $134,933 annually as chief, the same rate of pay Uschold was earning, Emminger said.

Reward offer increased to $25,000 in Danielle Cretacci murder investigation

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