Citing a recent conversation with City Manager Fred Warner Jr., Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner announced Thursday afternoon that he will retire on May 11 after 12 years as chief.
Lohner said it was with mixed emotions he has decided to retire and transition out of law enforcement “for the time being.”
“This decision was made after a tumultuous year of evaluating my future options and trying to decide how long I wanted to stay in this career,” he wrote in a letter.
Lohner, 54, said he came to his decision after a Wednesday conversation with Warner in which Warner discussed his vision for the department.
“I think he wanted someone as the chief other than me,” Lohner said this morning.
Lohner said in the two years that Warner has served as city manager it became clear that the two men had personality differences and different management styles and beliefs.
“It’s not that there’s this big battle or anything else,” Lohner said. “He has his ideas about how I do things.
“I’m not sure what all of his thoughts are. It’s just a difference in management style,” Lohner said.
After Warner and Lohner met Wednesday, Lohner wrote his letter announcing his resignation and distributed it by email Thursday.
Warner said today that the two men parted mutually and that it was Lohner’s decision to retire.
The police chief said in his letter that he hopes Warner’s plans for the city are successful.
Warner said this morning that he will appoint Lt. Dustin Newman as interim police chief.
Lohner said that it was his hope that Newman would fill the interim position.
“I spent three years preparing him for this position,” he said. “I hope he does move into it and continue on.”
Warner said he has “great respect for Wyn’s abilities.”
“I want to thank Wyn for his years of service and the professionalism he brought to the department, and his passion for the job” he said.
Warner, who has been city manager since May 2016, said he has had multiple discussions with Lohner over the past few months about the future of the police department.
“I don’t think he and I saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things,” Warner said.
He mentioned as an example that “I think we need to strengthen our relationships with the State Police and the Sheriff’s Office and explore some new ideas that can make our police department serve our citizens to a higher level.”
Warner said he believes the police department “is in really good shape and it needs to take the next step.”
Warner said that although he wants the city to have closer ties with other local police agencies, he is not proposing to consolidate the city police department with the Sheriff’s Office.
“That is not on my radar at all,” Warner said. “The City Council has not talked about that.”
Warner said that during the next few months he will work with Newman, the interim chief, and the police department staff to assess the department’s needs, strengths and weaknesses.
“I’m willing to give Dustin a fair shot to see how we do in the next couple of months,” Warner said, meaning Newman could potentially have the “interim” removed from his title.
Jayson Jacoby contributed to this story.
See more in the April 27, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.