Messaros honored for 50 years as member of the Fraternal Order of Police
● By Steven Hoffman
Dave and Betsy Messaros have shared 52 years of marriage. During that time, as the couple raised their four children, there has been a lot of happiness, love, and shared experiences. So there’s no problem if they have slightly different recollections about Dave’s long career as a cop in Philadelphia, working in some of the most dangerous and crime-riddled areas of the city.
“I enjoyed my entire career,” Dave said with a cheerful laugh during an interview at his Oxford area home. “I enjoyed all of it.”
“He liked it. I didn’t.” Betsy Messaros deadpanned.
Her humor was one of the ways that the couple dealt with the stressfulness of his work as a cop before he retired. Dave was honored earlier this year with a certificate of achievement for 50 years as a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, which represents more than 14,000 active and retired officers of the Philadelphia Police Department and Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department.
While many children think they want to be police officers when they grow up, that wasn’t exactly the case with Dave. He grew up in Philadelphia, and his father was a reporter for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, which for a time was the largest evening newspaper in the United States. Dave’s father was hoping that his son would pursue a career in government or law enforcement. It was at his father’s suggestion that Dave sought to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spending ten years employed in the automotive section of the FBI. Then, with a child on the way, Dave decided to apply to the Philadelphia Police Department. He attended the Philadelphia Police Academy, and once he completed his training, he was a police officer in one of the largest cities in the country.
During his career with the Philadelphia Police Department, Dave spent time working on the Philadelphia Highway Patrol and doing undercover work in high crime areas where he routinely saw robberies, burglaries, and shootings.
He was usually scheduled to work during the evenings or in the overnight hours—times when criminal activity can be at its highest.
“Your night was never slow,” Dave explained with a good-natured laugh. “There’s a lot of junk that can go on.”
One night, when Dave was out on patrol, one of the suspects that he encountered bit him.
“Just a normal day,” Dave said with a shrug.
But as a result of that bite, he soon developed an infection that had to be treated in a hospital. For a little while, there were concerns that the infection would spread and become a serious issue, but Dave fought it off and recovered well.
On another occasion, Dave got stabbed in the hand while he was on duty. When he called his wife to tell her about the incident, Betsy asked him where he got stabbed.
Instead of telling her what part of his body was injured, Dave instead gave her the two cross streets near where the stabbing occurred. Betsy shakes her head recalling the conversation. Again, the couple relied on humor to get through some of the more challenging moments of the law enforcement life.
“It can be tough,” Betsy said, “but you have to work around it.”
During his career as a cop, Dave received numerous commendations. There were also a number of times when Dave was able to share stories with people like movie producers who wanted to tell law enforcement stories—everyone is interested in cops and how they do their work, as evidenced by the large number of TV shows and movies about the police.
A reporter from Time Magazine once spent some time with Dave and one of his partners to write a story about law enforcement efforts in Philadelphia. Producers of a movie called “The Besieged Majority” also consulted with Dave to gain insights about how cops do their jobs.
Dave also did a series of segments with Tim Lake of Channel 10 News about topics like home security and how to protect the elderly from crimes.
While Dave was still working for the Philadelphia Police Department, the Messaros family moved out to the Oxford area to raise their children, Hank, Dave, Terri, and Liz.
They’ve now called the southern Chester County community their home for 32 years.
Dave and Betsy have immersed themselves in the community. Betsy worked as a nurse’s assistant for about 20 years for the Oxford Area School District so she got acquainted with many different people in the community. She also has worked for several flower shops, and still does this work part-time.
Following his retirement as a police officer, Dave worked as a nighttime supervisor for the school district, and he, too, met many different people in Oxford. They are very glad that they call this community home.
“We just love it,” Betsy said. “We have a lot of good friends here. We love it.”
Dave really enjoys staying in touch with his fellow police officers. He attends many Fraternal Order of Police gatherings and attends a Philadelphia Highway Patrol reunion regularly.
Betsy pointed out that the police officers often saw more of each other than they did with their own families, so it makes sense that they developed close bonds.
The camaraderie is one of the things that Dave misses most about his job.
“I didn’t realize I would miss the friends, miss all the people, so much,” he explained.
Dave said that he feels a lot of pride looking back on his career as a police officer.
Betsy is proud of that work, too, but there were too many anxious nights listening to a police scanner for her to remember those days quite as fondly as her husband does.
What they both really love is the family that they raised together, as well as being a part of the fraternity of police officers—they became friends with so many police officers and their spouses through the years, and many of those friendships continue to this day.
“I loved it. I wish I was still doing it,” he said with a laugh.