At the February 27, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting, John L. Hearn, the Commanding Officer of Philadelphia Police Department’s 14th Police District, was sworn in as Newtown Township’s new Chief of Police by District Court Judge Mick Petrucci.
The 14th District in Northwest Philadelphia covers the Chestnut Hill and Germantown sections, as well as East and West Mt. Airy.
Hearn was selected by the Supervisors after an exhaustive process that involved screening over 20 applicants. In my review I noted the following about Hearn:
- He has experience preparing budgets for special events
- He takes an analytical approach to making decisions based on facts
- He believes technology can minimize the cost of training
- In his previous position he assigned officers “areas of influence” where they are required to knock on doors and visit businesses and introduce themselves
- He held special “traffic safety blitzes” and emphasized education vs. tickets
- He implemented a “walking with a cop” program
- He held monthly town halls with citizens
Of particular interest to me are items #6 and #7 on this list. I hope to chat with Chief Hearns in the near future to learn more about implementing these “community policing” programs in Newtown!
SafeCity Solutions – a consulting company – was hired by Newtown to help evaluate applicants. Their final report noted that Hearn’s “experience has provided him with the tools to effectively respond to a myriad of difficult and complex situations in a reasonable time frame… Not all what Hearn experienced in a large city would be applicable to Newtown, but indications are that he could make the transition and adjustment necessary to be a successful suburban police chief.”
Hearn has a large number of friends in local area police departments as well as in the FBI where he attended the National Academy. This was obvious from the large number of attendees at the swearing in ceremony.