By Alex Lloyd Gross
His name is William McVey. When Pat Ponticelli retired this month, Bensalem needed a new Deputy Director. Many municipalities hire a professional to search the country for their ideal candidate for this type of position. Not here. All the Director of Public Safety, Fred Harran needed to do was to look across the hall and find the best qualified person. William McVey was a member of the department and has been for over 20 years. He reached the rank of Lieutenant and was an important part of the command staff of the police department.
“Pat was integral in teaching me what I know. He was great, and I want that known. I feel that he was a great mentoring influence for me,” McVey said. When asked, about the selection process he simply stated. “I feel that a lot of the people we have in Bensalem are qualified to do this job and I am deeply honored that they thought to ask me,” he said. His duties and responsibilities just increased. Prior to this, he was responsible for the patrol division , which was a tough assignment. Now he helps oversee the entire department, as well as the fire and EMS service for the township.
“Some of our officers are also volunteer firefighters which I think is great. We know what the FD is doing and why they are doing it. Minimizing liability is also now part of my job as well. Now as one of the most important cogs in the wheel of the public safety system, he wants to reach out and work with the volunteer fire Departments that serve the township. There is also Fire Police, Animal Control that are part of public safety. Not to mention Town Watch, and as well as coordinating communications with Bucks County Emergency Management.
When a severe storm is about to hit, McVey now has to help coordinate evacuation areas, communication with volunteer ARES/RACES amateur radio through the County Communications Center can help out with the decisions he will make, as they are a small part of his extended network. He may never communicate with them, but they are there feeding information to county officials to help them. Bensalem is located right next to Philadelphia. He is proud of the Police Athletic League which has about 1000 kids enrolled. That can be a valuable tool to keep kids on the right path.
He will still do his duties as Public Information Officer. This means he will oversee the social media aspect of the department. ” Overall, I think it’;s good, there is some bad involved with the internet, but if we can take it on, get the story out, use it to our advantage, it’s a powerful tool,” he said. 20 years ago, there was not a lot of private security cameras set up. Today, they exist on private homes and businesses. Looking to expand the community involvement in sharing video of crimes caught on tape is something he would like to see expanded. Something similar to Philadelphia, “Operation Safecam” where cops have a database of people that would be willing to share video of incidents that police might be interested in is something that he said he would like to learn more about. Getting those images to the media helps solve crimes.
He his not going to be a cop forever. He wants to find his replacement and that is done with recruiting and retention. “We are looking for good , quality people to become cops in this township. It’s a lengthy process, but worth it,” McVey said. However, across the nation, the number of quality applicants is not there. Bensalem has to appeal to those people they want and hope they will seek employment with the township as opposed to a large city. The standards are high but not unachievable. For a person with no military or police experience, they will need 60 college credits. McVey likes to teach younger officers what to do and how to do it right. Part of his prior assignments was as a Field Training Officer . He knows
“I’d like to thank the mayor and Fred Harran, for fostering good public support for police. When the media and the NFL were protesting cops, they were busy getting lawn signs for people to put out in support of the police.” he said. He has been on the job for about two weeks. It’s a learning curve for anyone coming into a new position but with the staff he has working for him, coupled with his knowledge of the township it should be a small curve. As with any job, you never stop learning and there is always someone that can teach you something new. McVey seems eager to embrace that, and that trait makes for a good leader.