White Oak names Bender new police chief
White Oak council unanimously appointed Lou Bender from within the ranks of its own police department on Monday night as the borough's new chief.
Bender is replacing Joe Hoffman, who retired on Dec. 31. Council entered into a three-year contract with Bender effective Monday.
Mayor Ina Jean Marton then swore in Bender to head the 12-member department.
“Chief Bender is now filling the shoes of Chief Hoffman, which we didn't think we could do,” Marton said. “I think you'll do a fine job.”
Council president Dave Pasternak said council wanted to hire from within the department and chose two candidates for interviews.
Borough manager Jack Petro Jr. said called both “great candidates.”
“I think the reason Lou Bender stuck out was because of his experience and leadership as a lieutenant in the police department,” he said.
Councilman Ron Massung, who chairs the public safety committee, said Bender is a hands-on officer and that he looks forward to working with him.
Bender has been a police officer in the borough for 21 years, the last six as lieutenant and the six before that as sergeant. He was a detective for one year and a patrolman for eight years.
Before coming to White Oak, Bender was an officer in North Braddock, East Pittsburgh and with Pittsburgh Housing Authority police. He was in the U.S. Army for three years before his career in law enforcement.
The new chief thanked council and the mayor for the opportunity.
“I know it was a very tough decision between two very good candidates,” he said. “I thank you for the honor and the privilege of being able to serve as the chief of police. I'd like to thank my family and friends who all came out (Monday night) for all the support they've given me over the years. I'd like to thank retired Chief Joe Hoffman, who not only has helped train me for this position, but has also trained me in martial arts for the past 12 years.”
Bender thanked the borough fire departments, EMS and his fellow officers.
“I know the sacrifices you guys make on a daily basis,” Bender told the officers in attendance. “I know the dedication and pride you have for the department. I'm very honored to be able to lead you guys into the next couple years.”
Bender has a black belt in Shingitai Jujitsu and a brown belt in Judo.
“I want to continue with the high standards that have already been set by the police department,” Bender said. “I want to continue to be aggressive on crime and protect the residents, businesses, visitors and especially the children.”
He said he'd like the department to continue to be proactive.
Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.