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Orchard Park Town Board members appointed a police lieutenant as the temporary police chief Wednesday night.

Mark F. Pacholec, 49, a Marine Corps veteran who has been with the department 16 years, will serve until the board makes a permanent appointment.

Pacholec takes the helm Friday from Andrew Benz, who unexpectedly announced his retirement last month after nearly 25 years with the department, including about four years as chief.

“I appreciate the board’s confidence and trust in me,” Pacholec said. “I look forward to continuing my career serving this community.”

Three of the five lieutenants in the department interviewed with the board last week for the chief’s job, board members said. There are no sergeants, captains or assistant chief in the 29-member department. There is no current civil service list for police chief, and the exam is to be held in March, Councilman Eugene Majchrzak said. He said the three lieutenants are expected to take the exam.

“We don’t expect to appoint [a chief] until sometime in the summer, because we’re at the mercy of getting the exam results,” he said.

Pacholec served in the Marines and Marine Corps Reserve for nearly 26 years, retiring in 2007. He has been a member of the Police Department’s SWAT team for 12 years, as a sniper, unit leader and assistant commander. He has experience in patrol and traffic enforcement and has been involved with more administrative work the past several years, including budgeting. He has been a lieutenant for about 6½ years.

Board members said he will receive the same pay as Benz did last year.

Board members almost left the dais without officially appointing Pacholec. After they adjourned the meeting, The Buffalo News asked when he had been appointed. Board members looked at one another, realizing their oversight, and quickly and quietly convened a special meeting. While Pacholec was being congratulated in the hall, and residents were leaving the meeting, the board officially made the appointment, with the town attorney standing behind them and a reporter in front of them.

Benz said he decided to retire after meeting with representatives of the board. Board members said they planned to change the chief’s pay structure to a performance-based incentive program.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com