Norristown Police Chief Candidates Meet the Community – timesherald

NORRISTOWN – Dozens of residents showed up on Thursday evening to meet with the two contenders vying to be the next chief of the Norristown Police Department.

It was a packed house inside the Montgomery County Mid-Unit, located at 2 W. Lafayette St., in downtown Norristown. Potential candidates, Lt. Frank Lombardo of the South Brunswick Township Police Department, New Jersey, and Inspector Derrick Wood, of the Philadelphia Police Department, were interviewed by area residents during town hall Thursday evening.

Norristown residents are meeting Thursday night at the MCIU with two finalists vying to be Norristown’s next chief of police. Rachel Ravina – MediaNews Group

In more than 26 years of service, Lombardo earned a doctorate from George Washington University, according to a candidate screening form.

Wood has 23 years of service, including 16 as a supervisor, according to a candidate screening form. He also obtained an MBA from Holy Family University.

According to city officials, the next police chief would have 70 officers in his jurisdiction who have sworn to protect and serve about 35,000 residents. There are 30 other “civilian personnel” who assist the law enforcement agency.

Norristown Police Chief Candidate Derrick Wood, left, answers a question during a forum Thursday night at the MCIU in downtown Norristown.

In addition to area residents, members of Norristown City Council were also in attendance.

“The contribution of the community is crucial to filling one of the most important positions here in the municipality,” President Derrick Perry said in a statement. “Norristown is a diverse community unlike any other here in Montgomery County, and we want our residents to know that the top law enforcement official here is working to keep them safe. “

The public briefing comes nearly four months after the departure of former Chief Mark Talbot, who left law enforcement after eight years to serve as Chief Constable in Hampton, Virginia. Lt. Todd Dillon served as interim chief while city officials conducted a nationwide search.

However, Talbot left a legacy emphasizing the importance of fostering public relations and community policing strategies that led to a “52% reduction in violence” and a 44% decrease “in all crime. serious ”. Talbot told board members at a meeting in March by comparing the statistics for 2007-2013 and 2014-2020.

Responding to a question from a local resident, both candidates recognized the former police chief.

“You got it right that what Mark did for eight years was a role model, and it’s not a turnaround story at all,” Lombardo said.

“He’s built a great base, I just want to build on that,” said Wood, adding that if he was selected he would like to contact Talbot and ask him to be an advisor.

Dozens of area residents are participating in a forum Thursday at the MCIU in downtown Norristown as they meet with the candidates vying to be the next Norristown Police Chief. Rachel Ravina – MediaNews Group

Wood and Lombardo also spoke of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed on Memorial Day last in Minneapolis while in custody. The incident resulted in the arrest of four Minneapolis police officers, including the conviction of Derek Chauvin.

“Our whole profession has changed since that day,” said Wood.

Resources for local youth and agent resources and tools for anyone experiencing a mental health episode were also discussed. Sharing similar positions on communication strategies and training tools, Wood and Lombardo talked about plans to implement anti-bias training.

In addition, several audience representatives from the region’s Latinx community spoke on Thursday, stressing the importance of the relationship that has been established with Talbot. The two candidates sought to reassure the participants.

“We are here to protect you all, no matter where you are from or what your status is,” Lombardo said.

But it boiled down to a simple question: why did they want the job?

“I can’t wait to get a job right here where I have the open door policy and I can talk to all of you. That’s why I’m saying I don’t want this to be the last time I talk to you, ”Wood said. “I want you to disturb me, call me, say hello when we are together at the market, all because I feel like it’s going to take all of us, all hands on the bridge to make the city a place safer.”

“I became a police officer to help people. I would love to be a chef because I know this community has a lot of great things to do, ”said Lombardo. “We talked… about the ongoing development and expansion of the toll highway, and all of those things have required a lot of good people to do a lot of good things for a very long time. It excites me to do my job to be part of a team that takes it to the next level. This is why I not only want to be a leader, but to be your leader.

Both stressed the importance of maintaining a community policing philosophy and they hoped to get to know many people in the city.

Community members tried to get a better idea of ​​the candidates’ personalities by asking light questions.

A resident asked what candy would they have in their office? Wood said Snickers and Reese’s Cups, while Lombardo preferred M & M’s Peanut Chocolate Peanut Candy. Both responses were greeted with a laugh from the audience.

Another resident wanted to gauge the candidates’ favorite sports teams. Woods has declared his allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles. Lombardo has revealed he has “season tickets” for New York Giants games.

The forum ended with a round of applause as the candidates moved on to another interview with board members that evening. City administrator Crandall Jones predicted that a decision would be made in about two weeks.

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