The new year has brought a few changes to Northern Berks Regional Police Department, which serves Maidencreek Township, Ontelaunee Township and Leesport Borough. The department welcomed Officer Shea Nolan, a former Marine, on Jan. 29.
“I appreciate the support that we’ve been having from all of the residents and the business people in our community,” said Northern Berks Police Chief Brian Horner. “I can see that we are more recognized lately. I don’t know if it’s because of the guys being more active out on the street. The guys have been doing an outstanding job patrolling. The three sergeants have really stepped up and pulled their weight to better the department by making positive changes.”
Horner said the department instituted new standard operating procedures. There have been changes with the officers’ uniforms, being more visible as police officers. They also plan to change the look of the cars.
“To have a new look, because when I was sworn in (as chief), I said I wanted a new beginning of the department,” said Horner. “Everything is going in the right direction as planned. I appreciate the community sticking with us. During the holidays they treated us very well, bringing in a lot of goodies for us to eat.”
Officer Shea Nolan, 28, was sworn in by Judge Brian Strand and witnessed by Chief Brian Horner in January. Northern Berks Regional Police Commission voted to hire Nolan on Jan. 15. He officially started working for the department on Jan. 29.
“He was the top candidate that we had that we hired out of this last testing. We had approximately 37 applicants that were eligible and out of that list, Bern Township has hired two officers and we hired Shea and we’re going to be hiring an additional officer coming up at the next Commission meeting,” said Horner. “We’ve been short handed due to officers (out on injury leave). Also, our call volume has definitely increased over the last few years. We’ve been working at a 14-man level for many years. It’s time that we needed to add another officer to get our staff up to where we belong. I would eventually like to see us at 16 full timers but I’m very happy that the Commission has agreed to hire an extra guy to put us up to a 15-man level.”
Nolan will be participating in the Field Training Officer Program, which Horner said can last some time, until Nolan is ready to be put out on the street.
Nolan said he was born and raised in New Jersey. He served in the Marines. After returning from serving in Okinawa, he and his wife moved to Berks County and enrolled into the police academy and recently graduated from the academy. What attracted Nolan to police work is his desire to keep drugs off the streets; he lost family members to drug addiction.
“It’s the ability for me to help the communities and do my best as a police officer to keep the drugs off the street and make these communities safer and a better place to live,” said Nolan. “Northern Berks Police is an expanding police department; they’re growing and they have a great reputation already. I look forward to being able to add to that image that they have and to be able to grow with them, both as an officer and as a person, to be able to provide services to the townships that we serve.”
Nolan said he brings his military experience to the department and described himself as a self motivator and is eager to learn from the veteran officers.
“I look forward to working with everybody and I look forward to the opportunity to get to know the members of the community,” said Nolan. “I’m excited and ready to go.”
Another new addition to the department are eight ballistic helmets, purchased with funds donated to the department. Central Berks Lions Club President Kenneth Snyder presented a donation check of $3,050 to the department in January.
“It’s a ballistic helmet that will protect the officers when we respond to an active shooter or any type of critical incident that would require we be protected. It protects officer’s head if they’re shot at,” said Horner. “Each officer while on patrol will have a ballistic helmet with them at all times. The three sergeants and myself have a ballistic helmet assigned to us to keep with us at all times.”
In other news, Horner said Northern Berks Regional Police, along with Bern Twp. Police, the Muhlenberg Twp. Police and the Laureldale Police, are hosting the 2018 Citizen Police Academy, combining forces to provide communities an opportunity to go behind the scenes and experience the jobs of police officers.
“It’s to educate the citizens on what police officers do. They actually get to see what we do and they will even get hands-on (experiences) of what they do by attending the classes, learning what we’ve learned, seeing what we do, taking the evidence kit and letting them process a pretend crime scene, lifting prints,” said Horner. “We’re educating the community on what we do so they get a better understanding of what our job entails.”
The Citizen Police Academy will be held every Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Muhlenberg Twp. Municipal Building, 210 George St., beginning Feb. 13, and will be held every Tuesday for the next eight weeks. There will be an optional Weapons Familiarization class on March 24. The 2018 Citizen Police Academy is open to all residents of Bern Twp., Maidencreek Twp., Muhlenberg Twp., Laureldale Boro, Leesport Boro. and Ontelaunee Twp., who are 18 years of age and older.
“This year is the most that we’ve ever had for people that wanted to attend the Citizen Academy, and they still have time to sign up,” said Horner.
Submit application form to the Police Department in the municipality where you live.
For more information or to sign up for the Citizen Police Academy, visit the Northern Berks Police website at http://www.co.berks.pa.us/police/nbrpd/Pages/default.aspx.