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Lt. E. Joseph Wehrfritz will become Orchard Park’s first assistant police chief in five years on Saturday.

The Town Board appointed Wehrfritz, 52, provisionally during its regular meeting Wednesday night. He will be paid an annual salary of $95,191, and he will join interim Police Chief Mark Pacholec in running the department.

“Your dedication, drive and commitment to this community is the reason you are here,” Pacholec told Wehrfritz after he was appointed.

The change in leadership in the Police Department comes after Andrew Benz retired Jan. 3. Benz was assistant chief when he was appointed to the top job in 2008, and the Town Board never appointed an assistant after Benz became chief.

The department has no sergeants or captains, and five lieutenants before Pacholec and Wehrfritz were promoted. They must take the Civil Service exam before they can be given permanent appointments.

Councilman Eugene Majchrzak said the department occasionally has had manpower issues. The board also felt there should be a level of supervision between the chief and the lieutenants, he said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of administrative things a chief has to do. There just wasn’t enough time to do the job properly,” he said. “It was time to fill that position.”

Pacholec said that when board members started interviews to fill the chief’s job, he told them of the importance of the assistant’s job.

“A one-man show can’t run this department. There is no police agency our size, or even smaller police agencies that don’t have a second in command,” Pacholec said. “They realized that. The Town Board has been supportive of that.”

He said the Police Department is the largest department in the town, and it runs a 24-hour operation. The Highway Department can run 24 hours and has a deputy position, he noted.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com