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Richland to honor Lansdale officer who aided policeman


Richland Township is working toward honoring a police officer from Lansdale, who was wounded while assisting a Richland officer who was confronting a reputed perpetrator.

The special commendation plan was noted by Richland Township Police Chief Rich Ficco at the July 8 public board of supervisors meeting.

After the meeting, Ficco explained that about 10:30 a.m. on July 5, at the intersection of Route 309 and Tollgate Road, Lansdale off-duty officer Daniel Gallagher saw Richland’s Cpl. Matthew R. Lawhead with his gun drawn, being menaced by a knife-wielding man, well within the distance where protocol allowed for Lawhead to discharge his weapon.

Gallagher identified himself as an off-duty police officer offering to help, and ended up tackling the man, who responded by knifing Gallagher in the shoulder. Chief Ficco, noting that Gallagher was recovering from his wound, said the action likely prevented the man from being shot.

Lawhead had been called to the scene by motorists and other reports of the man behaving in bizarre fashion, including asking for help with making a phone call and then taking the helper’s phone; approaching several other motorists while in their vehicles; and pulling the fire alarm in the nearby CVS.

Ficco said the man was found to have several knives in his possession, as well as a common martial arts weapon, and that Lawhead’s mission had been to stop any threat to motorists and others in the vicinity, as well as the disruption of traffic flow.

Also at the July 8 meeting, township Roadmaster Jim Benner reported that an engineer had estimated that the use of Richland’s public works department as general contractor for installation for the Mine Road Bridge replacement, instead of the use of outside contractors, had likely saved about $500,000 on the project cost. Benner said that the township had spent $188,000, and that a grant from the Bucks County Conservation district had contributed an additional $315,000, for the largest project of its kind in the history of the township.

The new 32-foot span replaced a 16-foot span, which was said to have “acted as a dam more than a bridge,” about a quarter mile from the intersection of Mine Road and California Road.

In a reopening ceremony on June 21, the bridge was named after former township employee Erich D. Sprague, whose life was cut short recently in an industrial accident. Sprague had been credited not only with contributing to the installation, but spending “many nights at the site keeping water divergent pumps operating.”