Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda's 10th police chief was sworn in Wednesday morning as dozens of law enforcers, emergency workers, politicians and legal professionals joined friends and family to witness William R. Hall officially begin his tenure as the city's top cop.
Hall, who was raised in North Tonawanda and has served in nearly every role during his 28 years with the department, was met with loud applause as he was sworn in as chief of police by Mayor Rob Ortt, as Hall's wife, Sally, and stepdaughter, Sara Paduano, looked on.
Law enforcement officials from Lockport, Niagara Falls, the city and town of Tonawanda, Amherst and Niagara and Erie counties flooded into council chambers at City Hall — along with officers from North Tonawanda — an overwhelming show of support for a man described by many of his colleagues as a friend, a natural leader, a class act and a cop's cop.
"A lot of you have been my friends for a long time," Hall said, addressing the crowd. "I hope to live up to your expectations."
Lt. Frederic Foels, of the Tonawanda City Police Department, said those expectations will be fulfilled, with a reputation as a thorough investigator, an advocate for his fellow officers and a fierce defender of the public he is charged with protecting.
"He's one of the most respected people in law enforcement," Foels said, adding that the two have been friends for 30 years. "In police circles he's known all over Western New York because of his ability to lead and his knowledge of the department."
Hall, who publicly is often soft-spoken, said while he is flattered by the flurry of compliments, he has built his career on teamwork and communication, a vestige that he will carry into leading the police force.
"One guy can't run this department," he said. "It has to be a group. The people under me deserve just as much credit."
Hall began his career as a public safety officer at two universities, before joining the city's police department as a patrolman. He climbed the police ladder to traffic officer, patrol lieutenant and captain before his 2002 appointment as chief of detectives.
Ortt said when former police chief Randy Szukala announced his intention to retire this year, he knew where to turn first, appointing Hall as interim chief in March until the results of a civil service exam came through. Hall scored first among his peers.
"I have no question about Bill's ability," Ortt said. "I know he's going to do great things for our department. His experience, some of his ideas and the respect he has among the department is second to none."
Paduano, Hall's step-daughter, said it has been a long-time dream of his to lead the department, a position he will relish.
"He may be a man of few words but he always stood by those words," she said. "There's not a person who knows Bill who doesn't respect him."
Hall said he will push to make police supervisors more accountable and also spur outreach efforts in the community to better relationships with the department. Capt. Thomas Krantz will replace Hall as chief of detectives.
"He's put his life into this job and he'll put his life into this job going forward," said Alderman-At-Large Mal Needler.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.