Welcome aboard Chief Steffen sworn in during supervisors’ meeting

By on August 24, 2011

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

District Judge Dan Garrett was on hand at the Aug. 17 supervisors meeting to swear in newly hired Warwick Township Police Chief David Steffen.

Steffen, who began his new job Monday, Aug. 15, was supported by friends and family as he stood to take the oath of office. He was recently hired following the unanimous vote of township supervisors.

In an interview with Chief Steffen it was readily clear that the fit between the township and its new chief is solid. He most recently worked for the Northern York County Regional Police Department, spending the past 11 years as commander of the criminal investigations unit. In addition, he has garnered supervisory experience overseeing officers in a patrol capacity and management of civilian staff. But Steffen also brings administrative strengths to his new role with a background in records management and policy development.

"I have in my career path been very fortunate," said Steffen. "I have always had an organization that was supportive of change, growth and development of the careers of the officers that they employed. These characteristics were instilled in me and my co-workers. In addition, I was provided the freedom and guidance to do new things, to explore and employ better ways to accomplish our mission. I understand and have thrived in the delivery of police services in a dynamic and high demand environment."

Steffen’s combination of skills and his experience having already worked for a regional police force well equip him as Warwick Township continues to move forward with plans for their own regional force along with Clay and Penn townships.

"I had a large amount of experience in the application and delivery of police services within the regional police delivery environment," commented Steffen. "I have been a member of the first and longest existing regional police department in Pennsylvania, and one that has been used as the gold standard for the formulation and implementation of regional police agencies in the Commonwealth. I have seen the regional philosophy at work and understand the process in all phases, from the administrative, operational and peer based prospective."

The new chief is enthusiastic about the possibility of soon leading the area’s new regional force.

"The ability to positively impact and guide the formation of a new and unique regional police force was literally a dream come true," Steffen said. "It is a lot of work, but a labor of love for someone having the perspective I hold. I cannot overstate the fact that this was the opportunity of a lifetime for someone in my position.

"This was further reinforced after meeting the elected officials and township managers associated with this project, all of whom have been outstanding in their desire for and commitment to both success and excellence. Suffice it to say there is a real desire to make the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department operational with the highest degree of cost effectiveness and stewardship of both the public’s funds and confidence."

Steffen went into considerable detail regarding how his background would benefit the formation of the new regional police force in this area. He said he understands the tools necessary to make the system work.

"An example of this is the very nature of the regional police agency structure and requirements of operation," expounded Steffen. "To be successful the regional police administrator and agency members rely heavily of the capture and accurate recording of data. This means police officers must write exceptional and thorough reports. This serves many purposes, including the obvious — the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of criminals, but also allows the tracking of both obligated and unobligated time spent by the officers on the department. Ultimately this provides staffing based on discernible facts and not mere educated guesses, and also allows for the deployment of officers to those patrol zones where a high call volume or high crime rate may exist. In addition, in the regional police environment officers must be deployed in a manner to allow for an equal distribution of the work load. This increases agency effectiveness and provides cost control benefits."

That Steffen also understands the dollars and cents of providing excellent police coverage will prove helpful as the various municipalities work on constructing a budget system for the new force. Steffen makes a connection between the quality of management and the ability to clearly document costs.

"This data lends an essential element in the budgetary process," he continued. "In a regional police environment, the service costs are placed upon the agency as a unique and stand alone budget. What this really means is the actual costs of police service delivery is transparent, because a regional police budget is inclusive of all operational costs, including utilities, benefits, capital expenses, uniforms, health care, snow removal, lawn care, light bulbs, you name it. In this delivery the smallest expense is documented and included as part of the budget and planning process."

As Warwick Township continues to move toward a regional force, Steffen’s previous experience will prove to be a strength. He said that first of all it would be essential to make certain that the officers understand the organizational goals and reaffirm the relationship between each agency member and the organization. In addition, the delivery of high quality police services on a cost-effective and professional basis are the foundation upon which such a force would build its success.

"It is critical that each officer have the ability to reach their potential as both individuals and as members of the team," he said. "This allows the community to reap the rewards of specialization and delivery of standardized police services. It also allows the agency to retain experienced officers who have embraced a ‘buy in’ to the organization. Generally speaking, this leads to an increase in morale and a decrease in negative discipline."

Steffen also stressed that it was important for such an agency to have the flexibility to embrace new technology, new techniques and yet retain traditional values.

"It is my desire to have a community based police service concept," he noted. "This incorporates approachability of the police by the public, high visibility of the officers in the community, and the relentless follow up function to insure there are no unmet needs by callers seeking police assistance."

In his view, the venture into the regional model of police delivery is a decision that will benefit each of the participating communities in that it will increase services and decrease costs.

"I am a strong advocate of the open records laws of the Commonwealth and intend to have a web page for the agency where citizens will have open access to as much information as can be provided within the law while protecting the privacy rights of callers and victims," stated Steffen. "Accountability and transparency are more than mere words, they are what we will live by. As a former Latin student, I have chosen an appropriate agency motto — Facta non verba (Deeds not words). Also, if you see me, introduce yourself, I am more than happy to get to know you."

Like many officers of his generation, Steffen was one of the first of the college-educated officers to wear the uniforms of their agencies.

"We worked at night and went to school by day," said Steffen of the hard work required. "One of the benefits of being employed as an officer while continuing our education was there was never a shortage of topics for required papers."

Steffen has been married to his wife Lisa for the past 31 years and they have resided in Fairview Township, York County. He and his family are looking forward to the relocation to their new home in Warwick Township by the first week of September. The Steffens are the parents of four children, Andrew who is a recent graduate of Juniata College, Cameron who is a junior at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Chandler who will be attending Juniata College, and a daughter, Allegra, who will be residing with her parents at their new home.

Among those who worked tirelessly in the search for a new chief was township supervisor C. David Kramer. He also serves as chairman of the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department Task Force.

Kramer explained that when Warwick Township advertised for the position of police chief with the potential of becoming chief of the planned Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department, a group of law enforcement professionals was commissioned to recommend criteria and screen the applicants and narrow the field down to four finalists. That group then confidentially ranked the four. The same four finalists were then interviewed by the three township managers (Clay/Penn/Warwick) and they, too, confidentially ranked the four. Finally, the four were again interviewed by three of the township elected officials serving on the task force. As chairman, Kramer conducted the meeting. The other representatives were Keith Martin (Clay) and Dave Sarley (Penn). At the end of the interviews, each person independently ranked the finalists.

"Why am I boring you with all this procedure stuff?" said Kramer. "Here’s why: When it came time to make a hiring recommendation and all of the group reports were reviewed, in every single case, be it with the law enforcement pros, the township managers and the elected officials, ultimately David E. Steffen ranked first place across-the-board. All three groups worked independent of one another, yet all three reached the same conclusion. He was the unanimous choice of all three groups."

Kramer’s enthusiasm in their selection of Chief Steffen was obvious.

"Chief Steffen brings with him 32 years of law enforcement experience, of which 27 were served with one of the most well-respected and well-run regional police agencies in Pennsylvania," he commented. "As we look to regionalizing our police department and joining forces with two neighboring townships, we’re very fortunate to have found a leader as capable as Dave Steffen."

Kramer stressed that, as of now, Chief Steffen is chief only for Warwick Township, and was appointed by the Warwick Township board of supervisors. He stands to be the new regional police chief at that point in the future when the township decide to move forward with that process.

Township manager Daniel Zimmerman commented regarding the ongoing effort toward regionalization.

"We are working on a charter agreement, next," he said. "Now that the chief selection process is complete, we could perhaps be before the board in September for draft approval." More NEW CHIEF, page A11