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Chester County Press

Sullivan named Officer of the Year at regional police awards ceremony

03/19/2019 02:48PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

At its second annual ceremony, held on March 14 at the New Garden Township Building, the Southern Chester County Regional Police gave its 2018 Commissioners Officer of the Year Award to Officer Raymond Sullivan.

Before bestowing the award to Sullivan, Police Chief Gerald Simpson shared with the audience an incident involving Sullivan that led to his award. On April 10, 2018, Sullivan responded to a report of “suspicious condition.” Upon arriving at the scene, which was a location bordering a jurisdiction not covered by the regional police department, Sullivan quickly assessed that a residential burglary was in progress.  

“His quick and decisive actions resulted in the capture of multiple actors which were later turned over to the law enforcement jurisdictional authority,” Simpson said. “From being a leader in traffic and DUI enforcement to the many supervisory notations, Officer Sullivan stood above and beyond his peers in 2018 – conspicuous and exceptional, indeed.     

“Police officers are required to act and process events quickly with sparse information, use their training, observations and instincts to make decisions on how to act, while keeping themselves and others safe,” Simpson added. “This courageous conduct is guided by our first core value: human life.”

The department also awarded six of its officers with DUI enforcement awards, a nine-year tradition originally influenced by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocacy group. Police Officer Gregory Blue received a 1st-year award; officers Stephen Syska and Raymond Sullivan received 2nd-year awards; officers Benjamin Brown and Jeremy O'Neill received 3rd-year awards; and PFC Ryan Kushner received a lifetime award.

“There is no debate [that] their hard work has made the communities of New Garden Township and West Grove Borough a safer place to live and travel,” Simpson said. “In 2018, the police department experienced a 65 percent increase in DUI arrests, of which 29 percent of the incidents involved a controlled substance, such as marijuana or opioids.”

For only the second time, the department also gave its Meritorious Service Award – posthumously – to Irvin Lieberman, the longtime publisher and columnist for the Chester County Press, who died in late December 2018.

Simpson told the audience that the award is normally reserved for law enforcement personnel who have performed acts that have safeguarded the community, but Lieberman was being honored as a civilian, “whose voice resonated with a heartfelt care and concern across southern Chester County.   

“Our assertion is that the Meritorious Award, by its definition, fits our recipient, whose voice framed and influenced many decisions impacting our communities, to include his adamant support of regional policing,” Simpson said, referring to Lieberman's columns that championed the idea of starting a regional police department in southern Chester County, then a novel concept when he introduced it more than a decade ago. 

In 2009, Lieberman's “Uncle Irv” column in the Chester County Press began with the headline, “The time has come for regional police forces,” and read, in part, “This would be a perfect time to explore a regional force. The [Kennett] borough is being financially squeezed to support their force and the others are too small to cover the rising crime and population. A strong regional police force would offer the opportunity to provide first-class police protection.”

“Whether you agreed or disagreed with his opinions, which were published weekly in the Chester County Press until his death, his was a voice distinguishable, conspicuous and courageous among a crowd, and by his lifetime of acts, served to make our communities a safer place to live,” Simpson said.

“Unfiltered and raw local journalism was his passion,” said his son, Randy, who is now the publisher of the Chester County Press. “After I bought the newspaper from him about 26 years ago, he never gave up his passion of scrutinizing local government. He went by the handle Uncle Irv, and put his opinions and comments right on the front page of the Press every week.

“In his mind, it was his constitutional right to do this. It was all about the First Amendment – everyone's freedom of speech.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].