Springettsbury Township's incoming police chief said he hopes township residents take him up on the "coffee with the chief" chats he plans to have at least twice a month at local businesses.
"It's an initiative I've always wanted to do," Thomas Hyers said. "A lot of people don't like to walk into a police station to ... talk about an issue."
Dates and times of the chats will be posted on the Springettsbury Township Police Department's website after Hyers takes the helm on May 14, he said.
"(People can) stop by and not only meet me, but voice their concerns," he said.
Hyers, 53, described himself as a people person.
"I'm not going to be someone who sits in his office," he said. "In my first couple weeks, I'm going to meet with various community groups ... (and) school officials."
Philly police: Hyers has spent the last 25 years with the Philadelphia Police Department and is a lieutenant there. He's worked in patrol, narcotics, internal affairs, accreditation and training.
"I've gone as far as I wanted to in the Philadelphia Police," he said. "I was looking for the challenge of becoming chief."
Hyers focused on the Springettsbury job because of the department's reputation statewide, he said.
"I cannot say enough about the good things I've heard about the men and women of the Springettsbury Township Police Department," he said. "I'm honored that I was selected. ... I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I think it's a great opportunity."
House-hunting: He and his wife, Karen Hyers, will soon begin their search to buy a home in the township, he said.
"I believe the chief should live in the township (he serves)," Hyers said.
They have four daughters and a son; the oldest is 32 and the youngest is 18 and in college, Hyers said. The couple also have four grandchildren.
He said he looks forward to working with officers at Springettsbury and other departments, as well as with members of the community and local businesses.
"I believe very much there has to be a collaboration between the community and its police department," he said. "I'm big on accountability. We are accountable to the community and to the elected officials."
Mentoring: Hyers said he also will focus on the growth of young officers.
"I believe strongly in the mentoring and tutoring of younger officers," he said. "And I can learn a few things from them as well. I've never been one who's said, 'I have all the answers.'"
Hyers has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey, and on May 12 will receive his master's degree in criminal justice from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, he said.
Last March, he graduated from the FBI National Academy, where he was voted president of his class, he said.
In 1999, he graduated from Northwestern University's School of Police Staff and Command, where he also was president of his class.
Eagles fan: Hyers is also a 34-year Philadelphia Eagles season ticket holder.
"I am a diehard Eagles fan," he said. "I still intend to make a few (games) during the year."
Springettsbury Township manager John Holman said Hyers' skills will help improve the department's community policing efforts and also lead the department as it looks into the possibility of regionalization.
"I selected who I believed would be the best candidate to lead our police department into the future," he said.
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at levans@yorkdis patch.com, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.