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County Receives Two Awards June 21, 2017

Chester County has received two achievement awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for programs developed by the county's Department of Emergency Services. The two programs - Care Under Fire and the Youth First Responder Career Training - picked up the accolades within NACo's Criminal Justice and Public Safety category. Both awards will be formally recognized on July 23 at NACo's annual conference and exposition in Columbus, Ohio.

"The 'Care Under Fire' program is a one-day, 10-hour training course for police officers that focuses on how and why it is crucial to provide lifesaving first aid procedures for their partners and colleagues while in the line of duty," said Bobby Kagel, Director of the Chester County Department of Emergency Services.

In the Youth First Responder Career Training Partnership, Chester County Emergency Services partners with the Octorara Area High School to present the Octorara Area Homeland Security and Protective Services Career and Technical Education program. The program prepares students to apply technical knowledge and skills required to perform entry-level duties in law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical technician services and other safety services. The program stresses the techniques, methods and procedures specific to the areas of criminal justice and fire protection especially in emergency and disaster situations.

Nationally, the NACo awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services that counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, and civic engagement.

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Artist Turns Gratitude Into A Fundraiser For The Force June 15, 2017

The bucolic scene of sheep grazing in front of the 1719 Hans Herr House as imagined by local artist Roy Peters offers no hint as to the trauma that prompted its creation.

On April 15, 2016, Peters was finishing a project in his West Lampeter Township home when the table saw kicked back and pulled his left hand into the blade. His wife, Miriam, called 911, and West Lampeter Township Police Department Cpl. Jeremy Schroeder responded almost immediately, as the couple lives just a few miles from the township's municipal office.

"The car door opened even before the car stopped completely, and (Cpl.) Schroeder jumped out with a tourniquet," Peters recalled. "He reassured me with his confidence and words of concern as he tended to my injury. He knew he had the tourniquet and was empowered to use it."

When Peters was transported to the hospital, the staff members were impressed by the device used to stanch the flow of blood.

"'That's a military tourniquet! How did you get that?'" Peters recalled one person asking.

The combat application tourniquets - 13 in all - were purchased for the police department by the Friends of the Force in December 2014 at the request of Chief Brian Wiczkowski. The chief had researched the devices and considered their purchase a wise investment.

"We carry them with us," Wiczkowski said, pulling a tourniquet out of a cargo pocket on his uniform pants. "The intent was to have them and never have to use them."

Peters has been the only person who has required deployment of a tourniquet thus far. Although he lost parts of two fingers, he did not lose his life, and he is deeply grateful. As a demonstration of his gratitude, Peters painted a view of the Herr House and donated it to the Friends of the Force, who are offering it for sale in a silent auction. The proceeds will be used by the group to purchase items for the police department.

Recently, the Friends group paid for another year of online training for the department's officers, and the group is also financially supporting the transition to an electronic records management system. Additionally, the Friends purchased equipment that facilitated the department's participation in a new crash team comprised of police departments from East Lampeter Township, East and West Hempfield townships, Manor Township, and Columbia.

"As much as we try to plan ahead, a lot of these things come up, and they're not budgeted for," Wiczkowski remarked. "(Regarding the tourniquet purchase), sure, you can wait, but at what cost?"

"I'm glad you didn't wait," Peters responded.

The donated painting, which features the oldest homestead in Lancaster County, measures 12 inches by 24 inches and is framed. It may be viewed at the municipal office, 852 Village Road, Lampeter, during business hours through Monday, July 3, and from Monday, July 17, to Monday, July 31. It will be displayed at Darrenkamp's, 106 Willow Valley Square, Lancaster, from Thursday, July 6, to Friday, July 14, and at the Friends' booth during National Night Out at the Lampeter Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Bids may be submitted via the contact form at www.friendsoftheforce.com through Aug. 1. Final bids may be placed in person only at National Night Out and then only until 7 p.m., after which the winning bid will be announced.

Peters invites other local artists to follow his example by contributing artwork for Friends of the Force fundraising efforts. Interested individuals may contact him at rpeters12@verizon.net.

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Memorial Honors Fallen Officers June 7, 2017

York County's fallen police officers memorial, held on May 12 at the York County Emergency Services Center in Springettsbury Township, recognized law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This year's honorees were Curtis D. Sowers of North York Borough Police, who died in 1929; Dean N. Zeigler of Pennsylvania Motor Police, 1942; Henry C. Schaad of York City Police, 1969; Edward Eugene "Skip" Schroeder of York County Sheriff's Office, 2005; David D. Tome of Northern York County Regional Police, 2008; and David L. Grove of Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2010.

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Suydam, Hansen Receive Promotions May 31, 2017

Jason Suydam, a West Chester native hired as a deputy sheriff in February 2006, will take over as second in command of the Chester County Sheriff's Office. He will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Deputy George March. Suydam was promoted to corporal in April 2008, sergeant in June 2010, lieutenant in March 2014, and captain in April 2016.

In addition, Sgt. Kurt Hansen will be promoted to lieutenant. Hansen, who now supervises the sheriff's Civil Unit, was hired as a deputy in January 2005. He was promoted to corporal in December 2011 and sergeant in August 2014. Hansen garnered praise in 2014 for his restrained response to a dog attack. He sustained two bites, but, because he had seen a child playing in the yard, he did not want to harm anyone's pet. The incident led to a training program that has served as a national model.

Suydam grew up in Delaware County, where he lived with his parents and three brothers. After graduating from Ridley High, Suydam joined the U.S. Marines at the age of 17 in 1995.

After his military service, Suydam worked as a business manager in the auto industry but gravitated to law enforcement after several years, taking a job as a police officer in Glenolden in 2003. After joining the Chester County Sheriff's Office in 2006, he quickly rose through the ranks.

In the process, Suydam found fulfillment in administrative duties, using his extensive training - which includes stints at the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Marshal's Service - to supervise others and set policies.

Suydam and his wife, Toni Marie, have three children. He also plays piano, drums, and guitar.

Suydam said he appreciated the opportunity to learn from March, who came to the Chester County Sheriff's Office with decades of law enforcement experience dating back to his start as a patrol officer with the state police in 1969.

A promotion ceremony for Suydam and Hansen was held on June 1 in Courtroom One of the Chester County Justice Center.

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K-9 Training Class Graduates Honored May 23, 2017

On May 19, the Chester County Sheriff's Office heralded the graduates of the county's second K-9 patrol and narcotics training course during a 45-minute ceremony.

Addressing an audience of nearly 100 attendees, Chester County Sheriff Carolyn "Bunny" Welsh said the graduation, held in Courtroom One of the Chester County Justice Center, marked the culmination of 10 weeks of training. Previously, the office's K-9 teams traveled to Ohio to earn certification.

The graduates were SEPTA police officer Jackie Trower and his partner, Jagger, for patrol; Ridley Township police officer Matthew Rowan and his partner, Hannes, for patrol and narcotics; Ridley Township police officer Brian Judge and his partner, Zork, for patrol and narcotics; Chester County Deputy Sheriff Mike Sarro and his partner, Dexter, for patrol; Chester County Deputy Sheriff September Spencer, the office's first female handler, and her partner, Luke, for narcotics and tracking; and Chester County Sheriff Brian Bolt and his partner, Yukon, who qualified as a canine trainer.

The program also included a tribute to Buster, one of the first K-9s in the Chester County Sheriff's Office. Buster, who died earlier this year, served with former Chester County Lt. John Freas. Welsh thanked the team for its service, but then became emotional when she made eye contact with Freas' wife, Wendy Baigis. Welsh explained that the dogs become beloved members of their handlers' families, making the loss difficult for everyone.

Welsh gave credit for the certification course to County Deputy Sheriff Paul Bryant, a Level III trainer for the U.S. Police Canine Association; Chester County Lt. Harry McKinney, a master trainer for the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers; and Bolt, previously a training assistant.

Bryant, who joined the Chester County Sheriff's Office after spending nearly three decades with the Philadelphia Police Department as a K-9 instructor, said the impetus for the county's training program started after he began receiving calls from other agencies that wanted to know if he was still available for training assistance - inquiries that he forwarded to McKinney. Recognizing the economic sense of using in-house resources for the new K-9 teams, McKinney said a county training program would also help to strengthen the skills of the existing teams, and Welsh readily agreed.

Welsh said that the 10 dogs in the Chester County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit respond to several calls each week. The most frequent involve searches of vehicles or buildings by teams trained to detect narcotics or explosives. Also in demand is Melody, the office's comfort dog, who often calms children who have to testify at trial or eases stress for all in custody disputes.

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Seat Belt Enforcement Planned May 23, 2017

Prior to the Memorial Day weekend and busy summer travel season, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will partner with municipal police departments statewide during the national Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization through Sunday, June 4.

As part of the enforcement, PSP and local departments will join agencies across the eastern half of the United States for a border-to-border initiative beginning to provide increased seat-belt enforcement at state borders, reinforcing the states' focus on safety.

Additionally, to help ensure the safety of infants and children in cars, troopers certified as Child Passenger Safety Technicians will offer no-cost car seat fittings and inspections at various locations throughout the state.

According to PennDOT data, unrestrained fatalities decreased from 413 to 408 in 2016, while the statewide number of crashes in which people were not wearing seat belts increased to 14,992, compared to 13,534 in 2015.

Motorists are reminded that Pennsylvania's primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers under age 18 to wear seat belts when riding anywhere in a vehicle. Drivers and passengers age 18 and up must wear a seat belt when behind the wheel or in the front passenger seat.

As of August 2016, Pennsylvania law mandates that children under 2 years old be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Children under the age of 4 must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. A booster seat is required for children until their eighth birthday.

For more information on seat belt safety, readers may visit www.penndot.gov/safety. A complete list of child passenger seat fitting stations is available at www.psp.pa.gov.

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Dayspring's NHS Chapter Makes Donations May 12, 2017

Dayspring Christian Academy's chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) recently raised money to donate to the West Hempfield Police Department and the Mountville Fire Department.

According to Dayspring's NHS president, Whitney Lohr, the chapter raised about $1,500 this year. Of that, $300 was donated to the police department and $500 went to the fire department. In addition, funds were used to host a dinner to honor approximately 25 local first responders. This was the third year for such a dinner.

Students raised the money through a Penny Wars fundraiser that was spearheaded by senior Caleb Sneller, who is the chapter's vice president.

NHS chapter adviser Donna Hurley, who is Dayspring's director of curriculum and instruction, recently received a certificate of appreciation from David M. Demeyer, chairman of the West Hempfield Board of Supervisors, in recognition of the students' gift. Demeyer noted that the donation to the police force afforded the department to work in the community beyond what its regular budget allows them to do.

Dayspring Christian Academy, 120 College Ave., Mountville, is one of about 25 Principle Approach schools in America, and of those, it is one of five model demonstration schools.

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Acting Chief Is Named Officer Of The Year May 11, 2017

John Michener, acting chief of the Southern Regional Police Department (SRPD), is rarely caught off guard, but he was surprised to be selected as the Officer of the Year by the Friends of the SRPD. Traditionally, the honoree is recommended by the department's two corporals and confirmed by the chief of police, who passes the name on to the Friends group.

"This year, unbeknownst to me, the officers vetoed my selection and chose me," Michener said. "It means a lot for me to receive this recognition from my own officers, department, and community."

Michener has served the community as a police officer for more than 15 years. He started with the Conestoga Township Police Department in January 2001 and continued with the SRPD when it absorbed the township department in 2003. Michener was promoted to corporal in 2007 and was named Lancaster County's Officer of the Year in 2014. He was appointed acting chief of police last year. Michener leads by example, performing all the duties of a police officer in addition to running the department.

"I still answer calls, conduct investigations, conduct traffic stops, work nights and weekends, etc.," Michener said. "Cpl. Robert Burger and I share time in correcting reports and logs and other administrative functions. I'm responsible for the overall production of the department and everything from making sure the police cars get their oil changed to making sure payroll is completed and submitted on time. Basically, I'm responsible for making sure the police department is being run efficiently and to the highest degree expected by our residents."

Meeting residents' expectations is important to Michener. In March, he issued a series of directives aimed to increase the SRPD's presence within the community by designating specific officers to cover zones with the jurisdiction. The officers are responsible for foot patrols and traffic enforcement in their respective territories, and they perform checks of businesses and housing developments as well.

"The idea is to have a more personal relationship with the community, to get to know what's going on, what the problems are, and try and fix them," Michener explained. "All of the officers here are on board and committed to serving the community."

Having qualified, dedicated officers in the department is a boon both to the acting chief and to the residents.

"I'm proud of the current group of officers who are working here and their commitment to the members of our community," Michener said. "Despite a decrease in funding and a decrease in the number of officers, combined with an increase in calls for service, the officers continue to strive to meet the goals they are given."

The Friends of the SRPD is a nonprofit organization that provides financial and moral support to the department. The group holds several fundraisers annually and uses the proceeds to purchase items not accounted for in the department's taxpayer-funded budget. Past purchases have included equipment bags, flashlights, cameras, laptops, and even a patrol car.

"The items bought not only make our job easier and safer, they improve morale amongst the officers in the department," Michener remarked. "We appreciate the Friends group very much for the equipment they make available to us, but even more so just to have the positive support from community members says so much."

For more information about the SRPD, readers may call 872-0352, visit www.slcrpd.org, follow @SRPDLANCPA on Twitter, and like the page at www.facebook.com/southernregionalpd.

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State Police Trooper Remembered May 11, 2017

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Officer Receives Merit Award May 10, 2017

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