Simpson named law enforcement officer of the year
● By Richard Gaw
Gerald Simpson, police chief of the New Garden Township Police Department, was named 2014 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, in ceremonies held Jan. 20 at the Chester County Courthouse.
Simpson was honored for his work by District Attorney Tom Hogan, specifically, Simpson's development of the county's model Active Shooter Response Training Program. Developed in collaboration with fellow law enforcement officials and a team of community volunteers, the program is a blueprint plan that allows officers and emergency responders to react to such incidents as school shootings and other large-scale shootings. Simpson worked with representatives from 40 law enforcement agencies, as well as first responders from the medical emergency, ambulatory and fire fighting fields.
To date, the program has conducted nearly two dozen training sessions that haveprovided education to nearly 400 Chester County law enforcement officials.
During his acceptance speech, Simpson said that in the days following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, that he and many of his colleagues in law enforcement found themselves wondering whether or not their departments were properly prepared to handle a similar incident, were it to occur in their coverage areas.
"It wasn’t too long after, I found myself in one of those meetings along with two other law enforcement professionals, a superintendent and the facilities supervisor and a private vendor," Simpson said. "I left that meeting concerned about the lack of uniformity, but even more importantly, I was concerned about the impression we may have left behind.
"It was in at that moment, I became keenly aware of the fact that others were seeking our guidance, that they were looking to us for answers," Simpson added. "We not only owe it to our communities and our stakeholders. We it owe it to our profession to build a uniformed response to face the challenges we encounter."
Simpson then turned the praise for him onto his colleagues on the Active Shooter Response Training Program steering committee, as well as to several others who have assisted in the training programs.
Since he became police chief in New Garden Township in 2011, Simpson and his department have developed several new initiatives, which include hosting rworkshops, forums and open houses; actively participating in community events; creating a comprehensive website, with features such as an accident/DUI incident map; increasing collaboration with other law enforcement agencies; and establishing a 24-hour police service, first as a "pilot" program beginning in May 2013, and, through a five-year agreement in December 2013, as a full-time, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week police force.
In addition to Simpson's recognition, Chester County Assistant District Attorney Deborah Ryan was named as 2014 Prosecutor of the Year, and Detective Thomas Goggin was named 2014 Detective of the Year.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.