After nearly 30 years as a member of the Hampton Police Department, Michael Pecora has a new title -- chief.
"I guess the biggest change is that I'm in the office more, not out on the road, answering calls and dealing with the public one-on-one," said the new chief, who had been a sergeant for 29 years and has spent his entire law enforcement career in Hampton.
Chief Pecora said that administration is a welcome change and something he was always interested in, having graduated from La Roche College with a degree in administration and management. A graduate of North Allegheny High School, Chief Pecora, 54, lives in Richland.
"They were the first department to offer me a job," he recalls of his hiring in Hampton. He said that he never planned on making it to the top of his ranks.
"My goal was to do the best job I could do, and I'm happy with the way things worked out," he said. "But if you had told me back when I started that I would become chief someday, I would not have believed it."
As the head of 18 full-time and four part-time officers, Chief Pecora acknowledges that Hampton is a close-knit community, but it still has its share of crime. "A lot of the thefts and burglaries are related to drugs," he says.
He also addressed the nation's concern with the recent shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
"We still have a school resource officer present from Monday through Friday," said the chief, adding that the officer's office is at the high school, but he visits each school. He and the school district are refining operating procedures. He said six officers will be participating in active shooter training in the next month or so.
He notes that additional training is being provided for Hampton's officers in the event of a shooter situation.
"We're getting more detailed and complete classes set up now to help individual officers with certain aspects of an active shooter type of incident and also to refresh and bring information to the rest of the department."
Chief Pecora wants residents to know that the township's police officers are always available, and he advises residents to call 911 if they need assistance rather than sending an email, which may not be read immediately at times when officers are busy.
He also advises residents to be vigilant.
"Keep your property, vehicles, and houses locked," he said. "And, when you see something out of the ordinary, again, call 911."
Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org