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NORTH TONAWANDA – Police Chief Randy Szukala, who was the youngest chief in the city’s history, has announced he will retire at the end of March after nine years on the job.

“We’ve been very thankful,” said Mayor Robert Ortt of Szukala’s 25 years of service to the department. “He has certainly overseen a lot of changes.”

Szukala, who told Ortt about his retirement a couple of weeks ago, was known for adding cameras to the repertoire of officers’ crime-fighting tools and increasing the department’s rate of solving crimes.

He had been hesitant at first about the decision by Ortt and the Common Council to move the city’s emergency dispatch services to the Niagara County sheriff’s headquarters in Lockport last year.

But the department of six had cost the city about $440,000 a year, and the savings were too attractive to forgo. Szukala, who could not be reached to comment, oversaw the change thoughtfully, Ortt said.

“We made it happen,” he said. “He made sure it was executed in a safe manner.”

Szukala, who became chief in his late 30s, will be 47 when he retires. He recently completed a master’s degree, and Ortt expects him to take on a new career, perhaps teaching. “He’s a young man,” said Ortt. “He can go off and do whatever he wants to do.”

In the next couple of weeks, the mayor expects to hire a temporary chief to oversee the department of 46 officers.

Once the results of the civil service police chief exam are available later this spring, he will hire Szukala’s permanent replacement.

email: mkearns@buffnews.com