New chief of police sets goals

It’s fair to say State Police Capt. David J. Young is stepping from one challenge to another.

Young, 51, has been selected as the new city police chief, a job he begins on April 4. He will be paid $87,000 and does not require health care insurance, which he receives through the state police as part of his retirement. Young is set to retire from the state police on Jan. 29.

After a news conference Friday in Mayor Gabriel J. Campana’s office, in which Campana introduced Young to others in City Hall, Young shared three of his strategic goals, none of which are in order of importance, but all which he values as equally necessary to tackle.

The first is to continue efforts to curb the heroin epidemic and related crime, much of it caused by the misuse and abuse of prescription pain-killing narcotics.

A second goal for Young is to see the department increased by another four to five officers. The ranks this week are up to 50 officers, one below the budgeted amount.

A third priority for Young is to begin to lead negotiations on the contract with the police union that ends Dec. 31.

Illegal drug abuse and sales are not specific to the city or Lycoming County but are symptomatic of a national crisis, Young said.

In his work at the Montoursville-based Troop F over the past 25 years, Young has frequently been involved in stopping drug crime.

District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt and Chief County Det. William Weber, a former city police officer, attended Campana’s news conference to introduce Young.

“I consider him to be a great asset,” Linhardt said.

Young said he would be a strong advocate for community policing, whether these are officers on foot, in cars, bicycles or at events getting to know neighbors and city residents. Much of that is dependent on weather, he said.

For special events, such as the annual Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade in August, it means “all hands on deck,” Young said.

Honing the department’s image by working with the school district and neighborhood watch groups can only help, he said.

Often, the image of police, in general, has been tarnished by nationwide incidents of police brutality, lengthy investigations into alleged police misconduct and intense media focus on such incidents.

Young said his leadership and strategies are going to be timely. Many of the patrolmen and women are young and starting out.

“It’s the best time to mold them,” he said.

Police are and can be a valuable influence on youngsters, Young noted. That trust factor with youth and adults needs to be established, he said.

Many times, an individual may encounter a police officer to report a crime only once in his or her life, Young said. That first meeting can leave a lasting mark. If it doesn’t go well, the individual may think that is the tone of the department, he explained.

“It can be a juggling act,” Young said. An officer may respond at 9 a.m. to a report of a senior citizen whose mailbox has been smashed. A few minutes later, he might be sent to an armed robbery and have to make a split-second decision whether to use deadly force.

Young’s selection came from outside the department ranks. None of the officers in the department, some of whom were qualified to become chief, applied, Campana said.

Once Young becomes chief, Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman will remain on the department as an “executive officer” during the transition to assist Young. Foresman is eligible to retire this year but has not set a date.