The New Garden Township Police Department: Profiles in Dedication and Service12/22/2014 04:12PM ● By Kerigan Butt
By Richard L. Gaw
Very often, law enforcement, much like the wind, is a necessary commodity never seen.
We have seen it in the movies, on television and on our highways and byways: A police officer's face is hidden behind a hat or sunglasses, and his or her visage is tucked within the darkened confines of a police vehicles. And yet, we can feel their presence, around bends, corners and crevices in the towns and neighborhoods where we live. They serve, protect and defend us, but mostly in whispers.
When New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald Simpson took over his current post in 2011, he set about to dramatically change that long-held belief that a police department should be heard but never seen.
Supported by a force made up of 11 full-time and 5 part-time police officers and an administrative assistant, the department began to break down those walls that too often separate citizens from its police force, and over the past three years, the New Garden Township Police Department has greatly increased its visibility in the township, through:
・ Regular workshops, forums and open houses, which encourage interaction and communication between residents and police officers, all based on an open-door policy that encourages township residents to share their ideas with the department.
・ Active participation in community events, such as career days and After the Bell school programs.
・ The creation of a newly-designed, comprehensive website, with features such as an accident/DUI incident map.・ The development of a Facebook page.
・ A new, digital newsletter known as The New Garden Lyceum, filled with vital information important for all residents of New Garden Township.
・ Increased collaboration with other local law enforcement agencies.
・ The establishment of 24-hour services, 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.
・ The incorporation of a value-based form of policing, summarized in the department's mission statement:
Life: We give first priority to situations which threaten life and treat all persons with courtesy and respect. We make our decisions and take our actions with the intention to minimize any danger to innocent citizens.
Integrity: We hold ourselves to high standards of moral and ethical conduct. We support the principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Justice: We protect and respect the rights of all people, while treating all persons fairly and without favoritism. We display a helpful, caring, and cooperative attitude toward the people we serve. We go beyond merely responding to calls for service in an attempt to provide an impartial service dedicated to solving community problems.
Professionalism: We believe that each employee is committed to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, dedicated to serving our community, self-disciplined, and interested in improving their level of knowledge and competence.
“The police department is a vital component to every community,” Simpson wrote on the department's website. “My primary goal is to provide a professional and accessible public safety service for all of New Garden Township. To that end, our dedication to the ideals below will enhance the quality of life for everyone.”
Landenberg Today is pleased to provide profiles of each of the dedicated people who form the New Garden Township Police Department.
Jeffrey Call, Corporal
Officer Call came to the New Garden Township Police Department in 2005, after serving with the Kennett Square Borough Police Department.
“I enjoy the personal interaction and friendships that develop between the police department and our local community,” he said. “I also enjoy assisting the public during a time in need, no matter how big or small the crisis.”
Heather Campbell, Administrative Assistant
As any New Garden Township Police Department officer will readily say, Chief Gerald Simpson may be the visionary of the department, but Heather Campbell is the glue that keeps the department working as one. She joined the department in 2007, after serving as a police communications officer for the Cecil County Sheriff's Office, and as a dispatcher with the Coatesville Police Department.
"There is no day that is routine, and every day here is different from the previous one," she said. "The majority of the community has a positive attitude toward the department, and support it wholeheartedly. I enjoy that the non-supporters' opposition is being drowned out by the inevitable progression that is shown by every single person in the department."
Joseph Cooper, PFC
With 26 years of law enforcement experience, Officer Cooper came to the New Garden Township Police Department in 1993 as a part-time officer, and then a full-time officer in 1997, after serving for the Kennett Square Borough, West Grove Borough and West Fallowfield Township.
“The New Garden Township Police Department is still community-oriented, and is committed to providing a high level of service to its residents,” he said. “The men and women of the department are dedicated, easy to work with, and we all work together as a team.”
Keith Cowdright, Sergeant
Before joining the New Garden Township Police Department in 2005, Officer Cowdright served for the Coatesville Police Department, the Chester County Sheriff's Office and the Chester County Prison.
"I enjoy being a part of something that is bigger than one's own self," he said. "I enjoy being a part of a team that strives to make a difference in the community, who go out of their way to help people in their times of need, and protect them from people who would do them harm. This department is about making the community of New Garden Township a safer place for all."
John M. Gibson, II, P.F.C.
Officer Gibson, named the New Garden Township Police Officer of the Year in 2013, has been with the department since 1985, and in law enforcement for 29 years.
Serving as a law enforcement officer in New Garden "has a little bit of everything," he said, "17 square miles of business, residential, retirement communities, farms, an airport, heavy traffic areas, and every ind of person you can think of. I have been thanked, hugged, kissed [on the cheek], patted on the back, consoled, transported in an ambulance, yelled at, cussed at and spit on, and every day, you just don't know what is coming your way. Best of all, we have a great bunch of men and women working here."
Joseph Greenwalt, Corporal
You might say that a career in law enforcement was something Officer Greenwalt was born into. His father served 27 years with the City of Chester Police Department, and his uncle served with the Delaware County District Attorney's Office as a detective for 30 years. Prior to joining the New Garden Township Police Department in 2007, Officer Greenwalt served in the Borough of Brookhaven and the City of Chester.
"I was born into the profession of a police officer, and have a sincere admiration for public service and protection," he said. "What I enjoy most about the New Garden Police Department is the continuous change and forward progression of the organization as a whole. I currently serve as one of the two patrol supervisors for he department, and take my role as a leader very seriously."
Matthew Jones, Patrolman
After starting his law enforcement career in the Chester County Sheriff's Office, Officer Jones began his service with the New Garden Township Police Department in 2012.
"I enjoy my peers and the direction the New Garden Police Department is going in," he said. "Chief Simpson has improved our services greatly, and I am honored to be a part of such a great organization. We strive each day to uphold our department values of Human Life, Justice, Integrity and Professionalism."
Michael King, Police Officer
Officer King joined the New Garden Township Police Department in 2013, after a 26-year career with the Pennsylvania State Police.
“I enjoy the people I work with and direction that the department is headed in,” he said. “During my time with the State Police, especially at the Avondale barracks, we worked very well with the members of the New Garden Township Police Department. I used to patrol the township at times, and I've known the senior members of the department ever since I began my law enforcement career, so when the opportunity was presented to join this agency, it seemed like a perfect fit, and a great way to continue to serve my community.”
Ryan Kushner, Patrol Officer
Officer Kushner came on board at the New Garden Township Police Department in 2014 after having served an internship with the Philadelphia Police Department.
“As a new police officer, working alongside the other officers within this department has been the most enjoyable aspect of the job for me,” he said. “Having never been a law enforcement officer before, I find that their knowledge and experience has greatly helped me in becoming a better law enforcement officer.”
Gerry Lindenlauf, Patrolman First Class
Officer Lindenlauf, who has been with the New Garden Township Police Department since 1994, began his 26-year career in law enforcement as a dispatcher for Chester County Emergency Services, and also worked as a part-time officer for Sadsbury, West Brandywine and Honey Brook townships.
"I enjoy receiving the support of the residents of New Garden Township," he said. "Without that support, our jobs would be much more difficult."
Philip J. Magorry, Police Officer
After retiring from the City of Newark Police Department after a distinguished 24-year carer there, Officer Magorry joined the New Garden Police Department in 2013.
"I most enjoy serving under Chief Simpson's proactive approach to policing," he said. "He does not wait until something bad happens to react. His policy and approach to policing is to prevent any bad things from happening before they occur."
Pedro Melendez, Patrolman
Before joining the New Garden Township Police Department in 2013, Officer Melendez served for the East Whiteland Police Department.
"What I enjoy most about working for the New Garden Township Police Department is the cooperation and camaraderie I get by being associated with my colleagues in the department," he said. "I feel lucky to to be working with a great group. When it comes to being able to do your job well, I feel that's half the battle."
Kristin Menna, Police Officer
After serving 16 years a a part-time officer in the West Brandywine, East Fallowfield and South Coatesville communities, Officer Menna joined the New Garden Township Police Department in 2011.
“I enjoy working with my fellow officers and staff members,” she said. “I also enjoy the opportunity to serve the citizens of New Garden Township on a daily basis.”
Mario M. Raimato, Jr., Police Officer
Officer Raimato, who joined the New Garden Township Police Department in 1996, has 21 years in law enforcement, which began in 1993 when he joined the Kennett Square Borough Police Department.
“I enjoy working with the youth in the community,” he said. “I participate in the After the Bell Program, as well as Career Day at the Kennett Middle School. I try to be a positive role model for the youth of the community, so that they may have someone to look up to and learn from.”
Jose G. Reyes, Police Officer
After a 28-year career as an officer with the Pennsylvania State Police, Officer Reyes joined the New Garden Township Police Department in 2014.
“I enjoy being a part of the New Garden Police Department because I respect the members of the department, from past interactions and their level of professionalism,” he said. “I also enjoy the personalized interaction I have with the citizens of New Garden Township, and the level of service that we are able to provide.”
Gerald R. Simpson, Chief of Police
Before joining the New Garden Township Police Department in 2010, Chief Simpson enjoyed 23 years of distinguished service as a lieutenant with the City of Newark Police Department.
"Coming from a larger community and in a position of command, I found myself somewhat insulated from what brought me to the career field in the first place -- helping people," he said. "There are no layers here at New Garden; you get to see your positive efforts first hand, which is refreshing to know that you're still contributing to the profession. Effecting change; it's what it's all about."
Joseph Paul Versagli III, Patrolman
To Officer Versagli, who has been with the New Garden Township Police since 2011, serving as a law enforcement officer in the area is, in effect, like being home.
"As a resident of New Garden Township my whole life, I enjoy patrolling the areas I grew up in, and protecting the community," he said. "I have the pleasure of working with, and learning from, a group of dedicated officers and supervisors -- ranging from veterans to recent academy graduates -- who take pride in their work. It's been a great experience to be a part of a department that is dedicated to growth and constant improvement, with a chief who has the best interest of his officers and the community in mind."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].