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It's been nearly a year since one of York Area Regional's early member municipalities parted ways with the combined police force, and now the department is losing its original chief.

Chief Tom Gross announced his retirement at a police commissioners meeting Monday evening at the station in York Township.

The former York City Police captain has helmed the regional department since it was formed in 2000. Gross will officially retire from the department Jan. 22, but his last day on duty will be Dec. 11.

Finding a replacement: The commissioners briefly met for an executive session during the meeting to discuss who would be interim chief. The commission later offered the position to Sgt. Tim Damon while they search for a permanent police chief.

The decision was met with thunderous applause before the commission was given the chance to vote on it. When the noise died down, it was given a unanimous vote.

Police Commission Chairman Albert Granholm emphasized that the interim position does not necessarily mean Damon will become the permanent chief and that Damon will have to interview for the position like all other potential applicants.

The commissioners are still deciding on the hiring process for the next chief, but there was still some debate whether or not the chief should be selected internally or externally.

Vice Chairman Jo Ann Shovlin said she believed strongly the next chief should come from the department.

"I think we have very good people here," she said.

Granholm agreed, but said he did not think they should be limiting themselves to only within the department.

The process of looking for a new chief will be discussed at a later date.

"A process that's rushed is a process that's flawed," Granholm said.

Damon was unable to comment on being selected as interim chief.

"Not sure" if he'll miss it: Gross said it just felt like it was the time to retire, after looking into things. He said he is still looking at his options post-retirement.

Gross will be finishing his tenure soon, but he's not sure he will miss being chief.

"I think being a police chief is a real challenge," he said.

Even though he said the position was stressful, he said he is blessed to have a very good career.

"I couldn't have expected it to play out as fortunate or as privileged as it has been," he said.

Gross said he will miss interacting with younger police officers, who he says are being asked to do much more than they have in the past.

He said he hopes to stay in contact with the colleagues he leaves behind in his retirement.

As for now, he said he is looking forward to some time away from the stress of being chief.

The York Area Regional Police Department has 45 officers serving more than 47,000 residents in York and Windsor townships, and the boroughs of Dallastown, Windsor, Jacobus, Yoe, and Felton.

Last year, Red Lion -- which joined the department in 2001 and was one of its largest member municipalities -- left York Area Regional following a dispute over rising police service costs. The borough now relies on state police coverage.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com

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