Westerville's police force has a new second-in-command after the hiring of a new assistant police chief.

Holly Murchland was sworn in for the role Oct. 16 and has been familiarizing herself on the ins and outs of the Westerville Division of Police since then.

Murchland, 48, was hired after working for 25 years in the Kettering Police Department, where she served on patrol, as a detective, a sergeant, a lieutenant, in undercover operations and in the division's criminal-investigation department.

She said she didn't have any connections to Westerville when she applied but saw it as an opportunity to be part of a division she respected and an area she was interested in.

"When the opportunity to work for Westerville came up, I saw that as a new challenge," she said. "It was an opportunity to work for a community that obviously is very supportive of its police department. The central Ohio area is a booming area, and I saw it as a good move for me."

In what he called a "very competitive process" that included candidates from across the country, Chief Joe Morbitzer said Murchland stood out.

"She just rose above and really shined in the entire process, not just with our internal interviews but (also) with interviews with city administration," he said.

"(Her references) had raving reviews for her, as a go-to person, a person who really works on the concept of collaboration -- internally and externally. She's made a number of ties in the community and has really done an outstanding job in the Kettering Police Department."

Working on that community outreach is one of Murchland's short-term goals in Westerville.

She said attending the funerals of Westerville police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli in February told her everything she needed to know about the department's connection to its community.

"The outpouring of support from this community spoke volumes," she said. "Really, that's not something that comes across just because of the tragedy. That is based on a lot of banking of trust over the years. The outreach that this police department has done with the community and working with the community over the years, that's a relationship that's built over time."

Currently, Murchland is the city's only assistant chief. Typically there are two, but former assistant chief Anthony Wilson was hired as the Columbus Metropolitan Library's director of safety and security in October.

Morbitzer said it leaves plenty of extra work for him and Murchland, but it's also another indication that a job with Westerville police is a good one for advancing a leader's career.

"A lot of people are tapping into our second and third level of command for leadership positions, which is a great thing for us, but also a challenge," he said. "It really is a compliment to our city and our people."

Murchland said she's still trying to get her bearings, but is looking forward to immersing herself in the city.

"I'm very excited for the chance to work in a community like Westerville," she said. "It's unique, I think. Everyone has been very welcoming so far."

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