By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — After nine years leading the North Tonawanda Police Department, Chief Randy Szukala will be stepping down at the end of March.
“I recently completed my Master’s degree, and I am looking forward to the opportunities with teaching in the private sector,” said Szukala, who served 25 years in the department, nine as chief. “It was a good run, and I enjoyed my tenure with the city.”
Mayor Rob Ortt will be left to find Szukala’s replacement when he steps down on March 28 and will appoint a temporary chief until results of civil service exam scheduled for late March come back in April or May.
Szukala, 47, was the youngest police chief hired to lead the department and oversaw last year’s consolidation of the police dispatch with
Niagara County, a move he had initially opposed. He also crated a regional SWAT team, worked to enhance the North Tonawanda department with training measures and also narrowed the crime closure rate in the city, Ortt said.
“He’s never been afraid to voice his opinions, as every department head should,” Ortt said. “He did a lot of things that brought the department into the 21st century.”
Szukala said he will try to get into teaching at the college or corporate levels. After years as a police trainer, a SWAT team member and involvement in many “major incidents” he said he’s achieved all he can in the department.
“It’s been kind of building for a while,” he said. “It’s like taking your kids to Disney World. You spend all day there and you ask the kids what else they would like to do after a long day and they say, ‘nothing.’ That’s kind of where I’m at. But I don’t sit still very long. If something pops up I’ll go do it.”
He added: “It’s not a traditional retirement. like when our grandparents left the factory, it’s a transition time.”
Szukala, who grew up in the Lumber City, will continue working as a referee for local hockey leagues, and may be involved in guiding the next chief, even after his retirement, according to Ortt.
“He let me know a couple of weeks ago and I knew he was looking so it didn’t come as a complete surprise,” Ortt said. “He’s done an extremely commendable job as an officer. He patrolled our streets, he lived here in North Tonawanda. Sometime you can’t really say anything but thank you but sometime thank you is not a big enough word.”
at 693-1000, ext. 4115.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.