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Police Chief – City of Oberlin, Ohio

The Position

The Police Chief works under the supervision of the City Manager and is responsible for the overall protection of lives and property in the Oberlin community through the supervision of all police functions. The Chief directs the planning, organization, and coordination of crime prevention and law enforcement activities including patrol, traffic, investigations, juvenile, and records.
Oberlin’s Police Department has 24 full-time employees: 17 sworn officers, six dispatchers, and one administrative coordinator. The full-time staff is complemented by a part-time officer, two part-time dispatchers, one part-time records custodian, six auxiliary officers, and four crossing guards. Specialized units include investigations, juvenile, crime prevention, drug education, drug enforcement, K-9 unit, and bicycle patrol. The Police Department’s 2015 budget is $2,577,198.

The Police Department’s vision is to “provide the best possible opportunity to live, work and raise a family in a safe community, by preserving the peace and by reducing both the reality and perception of crime;” its mission is to “enhance the quality of life in our community through the protection of life and property, fair and unbiased law enforcement, and community partnerships.” The Department operates by a set of four core values: teamwork, respect, integrity, and professionalism.

Oberlin has a strategic plan through 2025. Its first listed priority is to “Keep Our City Safe.” It intends to do so through bike and foot patrols in downtown and in neighborhoods; training for police officers and firefighters; technology upgrades and equipment replacement; and staff development. In addition, it will partner with clergy and nonprofit organizations to assist at-risk youth and strengthen the social safety net.

The Organization

Oberlin operates under the Council-Manager form of government. A seven-member City Council establishes a vision for Oberlin and hires a City Manager to carry out policy and ensure that all residents are being equitably served. The City Manager coordinates the work of department heads and other employees in delivering municipal services.  The Police Chief reports directly to the City Manager.

In addition to the City Manager, the Law Director, Finance Director, and City Clerk are appointed by the governing body.


The position requires a minimum of ten (10) years’ experience as a police officer, including at least five (5) years progressively responsible experience in supervision and management at the sergeant rank or higher.  A bachelor’s degree in law enforcement, police administration or related field, or an equivalent combination of education and experience which provides the skills and abilities necessary to perform the job are also required.  Additional specialized advanced training, such as CLEE (Certified Law Enforcement Executive), PELC (Police Executive Leadership College), and/or the FBI National Academy, is highly desirable.  Other preferred experience includes extensive knowledge of community-oriented policing techniques, experience working in a college town, and experience in multi-racial, multi-cultural communities.   The successful applicant must pass a background investigation, medical, psychological, and drug screening, CVSA or polygraph, and be a U.S. citizen.  The position requires a valid state of Ohio driver’s license.

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal Police Chief will demonstrate the highest level of integrity, be able to lead a department in a culturally rich and diverse community, and work effectively to continuously improve police operations and public safety. The candidate will be open and approachable, a clear communicator, and visible in the community.  The ideal Police Chief will be firm, fair, and focused on community safety.  He/she will be skilled at utilizing best practices including community-oriented policing, de-escalation techniques, and foot and bike patrol, while maintaining a safe environment for police officers and community members.  The ideal candidate will earn the respect of his/her staff, elected officials, City management, members of the public, and colleagues in the law enforcement community.  He/she will be skilled in all areas of police operations, especially crime prevention and education, patrol, investigations, drug enforcement, and will be an effective manager of Department and City resources.  The ideal candidate will combine community policing, effective use of technology, alternative dispute resolution techniques, and partnering with faith and community leaders, along with other law enforcement organizations, to provide the best services for residents and visitors to the City.   He/she will bring innovative approaches to pedestrian safety, traffic, and other quality of life issues impacting public safety. The next Police Chief will work toward the City’s strategic goals and align the Department’s goals to help support the overall community goals.

The Community

Oberlin is a community of 4.92 square miles with 8,286 residents, just 35 miles west of Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded in 1833 by two Presbyterian ministers who wanted to create a community along with a school for training missionaries who would eventually spread out all over the American frontier. Towards the middle of the 19th century, Oberlin became a major focus of the abolitionist movement in the United States. The town was conceived as an integrated community, and blacks attended Oberlin College from 1835. By 1852, the town of Oberlin was an active terminus on the Underground Railroad, and thousands had already passed through it on their way to freedom.

The community is home to Oberlin College, which was founded in 1833 and is an independent coeducational institution.  It has two divisions: the College of Arts and Sciences, with approximately 2,300 students, and the Conservatory of Music, with approximately 600 students for a total of approximately 2,900 students.  Oberlin College is highly selective and dedicated to recruiting students from diverse backgrounds.  It was the first truly coeducational college in the United States, as well as the leader in admitting and educating women and African American students.

Oberlin derives many of its values from this rich history, and is proud of its strong diverse population, in terms of racial, ethnic, age, and socioeconomic makeup. Today, Oberlin enjoys a diverse population with 73% of its residents as white, nearly 15% African American, about 5% Hispanic, and 4% Asian.  About 40% of its residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared with 24.5% for the rest of Ohio.) The median value of housing is $139,500, and its largest employer is Oberlin College.  The community is served by the Oberlin School District, which has a high school, a middle school, and two elementary schools.

The City is conveniently located 10 miles south of Lake Erie, 23 miles southwest of the City of Cleveland and less than 10 miles from the Cities of Elyria and Lorain. It is easily accessible by State highways and the interstate highway system.  Oberlin College has helped to foster a community that is ideal for families and retirees.  Kendal at Oberlin, a 325-resident continuing-care community, opened in 1993.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the second largest employer in the City.

The Oberlin Industrial Park is home to high tech renewable energy and biomedical firms while its vibrant downtown district is home to unique shops and restaurants.  The downtown is immediately adjacent to Oberlin College’s campus featuring acts and cultural amenities such as Allen Memorial Art Museum, Hall Auditorium, and the historic Apollo Theater.  A new LEED certified hotel to replace the Oberlin Inn is under construction.

In recent years, the City has earned many regional, state, and national awards and recognitions, including:

  • “Climate Action Champion” – A designation by the White House recognizing Oberlin for leadership and commitment in the fight against climate change
  • Team NEO Economic Development “Plus Award” for Business Retention/Expansion
  • “Best Hometown” in Northeast Ohio 2012 by Ohio Magazine
  • “Best Intergenerational Communities” award by Generations United
  • “Clean Energy Community of the Year” by Green Energy Ohio
  • Team NEO Economic Development “Plus Award” for Business Attraction

Ohio Public Information Law – All applicant materials are subject to Ohio’s Sunshine Law and are subject to open records requests. 

The City of Oberlin is a Drug-Free Workplace and an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and values diversity at all levels of its workforce. Women and minority candidates are encouraged to apply.

For additional information about the Oberlin Police Department and the City of Oberlin, visit the City’s website at:

Oberlin 2025 Vision

Oberlin will continue to be a proactive, trend-setting leader in social and racial justice and economic and environmental sustainability. We will continue to encourage an environment where diverse and innovative ideas flourish.


The salary range is $66,359–$107,527, depending on qualifications, with an excellent benefit package.

How to Apply

This position has been filled and is no longer available.

Thank you for your interest.

Apply Online

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group. Apply online by at and include cover letter, resume with salary history, and 3-5 professional references.


Questions should be directed to Catherine Tuck Parrish at (240) 832-1778.

Download the full brochure here.