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Chester County Press

Editorial: One single ray of hope in Kennett Township

06/08/2021 03:16PM ● By Richard Gaw

While the clouds of controversy seem to have lingered like a permanent and dark gray hue over Kennett Township for the past several years, the sun -- gloriously and thankfully -- broke through for the people of that municipality on the morning of June 2 in Kennett Square.

An appreciative audience of more than 150 – some tip-toeing through what would be their first steps in a maskless hint of a post-pandemic world – gathered at the architectural splendor of The Creamery on Birch Street to cheer on Matthew Gordon as he was sworn in as the new Kennett Township Chief of Police. There was little pomp and circumstance attached to the ceremony, only formality and the intermittent breakthrough of applause for a man who by virtue of the reaction of those in attendance is so deserving of his new job that it may render any argument to the contrary entirely moot.

All anyone there needed to do was look around to see who was there to grasp the respect that Gordon has earned: Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan, all three township supervisors, the entire staff of the township, every member of the township’s growing police department, members of other township police departments, and a cadre of Gordon’s past colleagues.

For just a moment, if one looked closely, the bright sun of this ceremony shone its positive light on the governance of a township that has become lodged knee deep in the big muddy of one terrible incident after another.

As Gordon delivered his remarks, however, the magnitude of the moment overshadowed the alleged $3.2 million embezzlement by its former manager.

It outshone her long-awaited trial and the fallout of its revelations, whenever those days arrive.

It made all of the grimy details that have already been revealed during this investigation disappear.

And, because it served as the elephant in the room all during the morning of June 2, Gordon’s hiring eclipsed the unceremonious firing of his predecessor on Feb. 5, 2020 in the wake of alleged improprieties and a criminal investigation.

It is gullible of anyone of us – those who attended the event or even those who write for this newspaper – to believe that the official hiring of Matthew Gordon as the new Police Chief of Kennett Township will singularly lift the governance out of this quagmire of predicament. That fight is left for supervisors Richard Leff, Scudder Stevens and Whitney Hoffman, as well as township manager Eden Ratliff and the work of his staff and solicitors.

And yet, for a township’s leaders and its residents, the ceremony last Wednesday morning that finally gave Matthew Gordon the title and the position he so richly deserves proved that the sun -- and in a greater sense, hope – can still exist in a place that truly needs that light.