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Philly police captain takes reins of Newtown Township force


Newtown Township finally has a new police chief and it’s one of Philadelphia’s finest.

On Jan. 9, the township’s board of supervisors voted unanimously to ratify an employment contract with Philadelphia Police Department Capt. John Hearn, who was not mentioned by name during the board’s first meeting of the year.

Supervisors John Mack, Dennis Fisher and Kyle Davis along with Chair Phil Calabro and Vice Chair Linda Bobrin each voted affirmatively for Hearn, a 29-year veteran of the PPD.

Hearn was selected for his experience in tough situations, said Treasurer-Secretary John Mack.

“Obviously, he’s very experienced and he’s someone who will come in with a great deal of respect, having already been a police captain,” said Mack.

“He’s worked in an area that’s more difficult than Newtown and he’s dealt with issues that were more complex so he is someone who is extremely competent to lead our own police force.”

Last summer, when former police chief Henry “Rick” Pasqualini announced his sudden departure, the township hired Safe City Solutions to conduct a search for a new chief.

Mack says there were dozens of candidates who expressed interest in the position.

“There was a lot of interest so I think that says good things about Newtown,” he said.

Before becoming a police captain, Hearn worked for more than a dozen years as a lieutenant in the PPD’s highway patrol. In that role, he helped escort countless dignitaries – Pope Francis, President Barack Obama, George W. Bush, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and many other high-ranking officials.

In addition to his experience as commanding office of the 14th District, which encompasses Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy and portions of Germantown and West Oak Lane, Hearn was a member of the South East Pennsylvania Regional Task Force.

With Hearn representing Philadelphia, police from the five-county region established standards and protocols for planning, response, equipment and training to protect critical infrastructure and key targets, and to provide a coordinated response to terrorist attack and other significant emergencies.

“He’s done some innovative things in his experience,” said Mack.

Additionally, Hearn has worked as a volunteer with fire departments in Cheltenham Township and Elkins Park, where he served as president.

As an emergency management representative in Cheltenham, Hearn was involved in incident command, operations, planning, logistics and finance, and was serving as public information officer.

As a president and board member at Elkins Park, Hearn prepared grant proposals and submitted required documentation, administered grants, and issued final reports to federal and state authorities.

Sometime this spring, Hearn, a resident of Northampton Township, after wrapping up his lengthy career in Philadelphia, will take control of 31 officers in Newtown. The department will operate with a budget in excess of $5.25 million in 2019.

“We wanted to make sure we got the right person for the job,” said Mack. “It was a tough choice but I think we made the right decision.”

According to his professional profile online, Hearn earned a bachelor’s of business administration at Holy Family University and attended the FBI National Academy. He is also a graduate of the Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command.

In other news, the supervisors unanimously approved a three-year employment contract with the township’s paid firefighters, who are represented by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 1300.

The deal runs through 2021 and includes wage increases of 3.5 percent the first year and three percent in each of the remaining two years.

There are eight paid full-time firefighters and a fire chief in Newtown who are on duty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The all-volunteer Newtown Fire Association guards the township on weekends.

Before the votes were cast, Township Manager Micah Lewis noted that the union agreed to open the pact once the Detailed Fire Study is complete, which is expected to happen soon.

Lewis said that language added delivers retirement bonuses, based on age and years of service to the fire department. The contract also includes additional education incentives for firefighters.