A new home opens for Southern Chester County Regional Police
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
On Saturday, Sept. 21, more than 150 residents, elected officials, police officers and their families gathered at the new home of the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department, to celebrate what happens when Purpose meets Perseverance.
After a 374-day construction period – and after years of schematics, vision and collaboration – the long-awaited opening of the SCCRPD's 11,716-square-foot, $4.34 million facility at 8934 Gap-Newport Pike received an opening normally reserved for heads of state, that came with an honor guard unit, the raising of flags, a dedication prayer, several speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
During his comments, SCCRPD Police Chief Gerald Simpson – considered the key driving force behind the new facility – chose to thank others whose dedication helped get the project completed, including supervisors Steve Allaband, Richard Ayotte, Randy Geouque, Pat Little and Michael Loftus, as well as township manager Tony Scheivert.
When he arrived as the new police chief of the former New Garden Township Police Department in 2010, Simpson said that his conversations with former supervisors and township leaders to create a new facility served as the starting point for the facility, one that moved it from mere vision to action.
Simpson reserved his highest praise, however, for his colleagues in his department. He said that while he was at a police leadership academy in the spring, he attended one class that called on officers to focus not only on their mission, but their purpose.
“You – the men and women of the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department – your purpose is to be peacekeepers first, and law enforcement officers, a close second,” he said, pointing to the new facility behind him. “In this beautiful building, every room has a purpose. There was nothing in this building that was placed by accident.
“It is all by design, and it has a purpose. Hopefully, that purpose helps us fulfill our mission to keep our representative communities safe from harm.”
“Today can be summed up in one word, and that's 'perseverance,” said Geouque, who served as the master of ceremonies. “'Perseverance' is defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Today has been a long time coming and it's been all about perseverance – to get this building built and completed.”
Supervisor Steve Allaband said that a major reason the police facility was conceived, designed and completed was due to the shared vision between Simpson and the current New Garden Township Board of Supervisors and township administration.
“On behalf of the board, it is with great honor that we thank and congratulate everyone involved in this monumental accomplishment,” Allaband said. “We now have a state of the art facility that will be the pillar of pride and commitment to public safety for several generations to come.”
District Attorney Tom Hogan pointed to the new facility as a sign of great leadership, engineered by Simpson, the township and former Kennett Square Borough Police Chief Edward Zunino.
“Welcome to the future of Chester County law enforcement,” Hogan said. “This is what the future looks like – a strong regional police department – here to protect – to band together their resources of this entire region to protect the citizens and make them safe.”
At the start of his keynote address, Michael Noone, the 1st Assistant to the Chester County District Attorney's Office noted that Sept. 21 was National Thank a Police Officer Day, “and what better way to thank a police officer than the keys to a new home?” he said.
The facility, Noone said, will not only serve as SCCRPD's new headquarters, but will also become a place where individuals will come on the worst day of their lives, whether they are involved on the wrong end of the law, or if they have been in an accident or suffered a traumatic event.
“This building is going to be used as a refuge for those individuals, a place of solitude and serve some measure of peace for our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones and maybe ourselves,” he said. “When something terrible happens in your life, you need some place to go and you need someone to help you. This police department – and police departments across our country – are those places.
Noone called the SCCRPD “dedicated professionals, who work with each others, with our first responders, with the District Attorney's Office and the community, to make sure that when the time comes, that God forbid, you are in that position, that they are there for you.”
Officer Mario Raimato, a 22-year veteran of the police force and a member of the SCCRPD, recalled the time Simpson called him into his office, and told Raimato that he had a vision for the future of the department.
“Chief Simpson, your vision is awesome,” Raimato told Simpson.
Following ceremonies, residents were given tours of the facility, which includes a 400-square-foot lobby and a 540-square-foot community multi-purpose room; a secure administration area, which will include offices and a conference room; a detective bureau area and interview and testing rooms; storage and locker rooms; and holding cells and two sally ports for transportation of the incarcerated and storage of vehicles retained as evidence.
The ceremony began with a raising of the flags by the SCCRPD Honor Guard Unit, led by Honor Guard Commander Raymond Sullivan, which was followed by a dedication prayer from Police Chaplain Annalie Korengel.
“As we give thanks for this building, we stand at a sacred intersection, where the call to protect and serve meets grace and humanity,” Korengel said. “We set it apart for the special men and women whose purpose is to protect life with integrity, duty and justice. May the architect of our lives bless those whose vision has brought us to this moment – those who gave form to the void, who labored tirelessly to raise resources, who honed plans and made a strong foundation.”
“Bless this structure, that it might be strong enough to hold joy and grief, peace and struggle, and all of our beautiful and broken humanity. May it pulsate with our good deeds. May it flow with justice and compassion for all who labor within its walls.”
Other dignitaries in attendance included County Commissioner Michele Kichline and State Rep. John Lawrence.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.