GENEVA — For the first time in more than two decades, the city is looking for a new chief of police.

Saying “It’s time to move on,” Frank Pane confirmed yesterday that he plans to retire during the first half of this year — most likely May or June — after 45 years of service to the Geneva Police Department, the last 22 as chief.

“I’m going to miss it, but I’m thankful that I was able to have a successful career in law enforcement and will be leaving on my own terms,” said Pane, who has been chief since 1988, when he succeeded Herman Garrow.

Garrow held the post for 17 years.

“Retirement is something I’ve been thinking about for the past few years,” said Pane, 68.

City Manager Mathew Horn said a multi-tiered selection process for finding a new chief has begun.

Horn said he and Jennifer Slywka, the assistant city manager and human resources director, started developing a process to find Pane’s successor after Pane told Horn late last year of his plans to retire.

Horn added that the new chief likely will come from within the department.

“Chief Pane has shepherded this department through tremendous growth and refined department staff to true professionals,” Horn said in a prepared statement. “It is because of his leadership and commitment to excellence that we are able to select our next chief from within department ranks.”

Horn said a panel of community members, law enforcement professionals, court officers and city leaders will interview the top-tier candidates as part of the selection process. Neither he nor Slywka could be reached yesterday to find out if the panel has been formed yet and if so, who is on it.

All department leadership, including those holding the rank of sergeant or above, are eligible for consideration, with Horn ultimately making the appointment.

Pane, an Army veteran, started as a patrolman in the department in 1966. He was promoted to sergeant in 1974 and later lieutenant, and became the department’s captain in 1976, a position he held until being named chief by then City Manager Steven Sarkozy.

“I’ve been honored to have been in law enforcement this long, and gained the trust of the people in this city,” Pane said. “I won’t miss some of the responsibility that goes along with being chief, but I will miss the people.”

Horn said the position is classified under Civil Service and that process will determine the time frame for the appointment of a new police chief.

In the meantime, city leaders believe Pane’s successor will have some big shoes to fill.

“He’s been police chief at a number of critical times in the growth of Geneva and has done a great job getting us through those times,” Mayor Stu Einstein said.

Einstein added that Pane made a priority of training his officers to deal with the complexity of police work in a small city.

“He’s done an excellent job of keeping the department up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques in police work,” he said.

“To say he will be missed would be a tremendous understatement,” Horn said.

Geneva police chiefs

1988-present — Frank T. Pane

1971-88 — Herman J. Garrow

1962-71 — x Thomas J. McLaughlin

1950-62 — Joseph E. McDonough

1945-50 — x Daniel C. Murphy

1944-45 — x Jeremiah McNerney

1926-44 — Richard W. Morris

1924-26 — Lawrence Kenny

1891-1924 — Daniel Kane

1883-91 — William Van Ness

1882-83 — x William H. Suydam

1857-82— Charles J. Folger

x — died in office

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