Retired York Area Regional police chief now head of Pa. chiefs association

Liz Evans Scolforo

Retired York Area Regional Police Chief Tom Gross didn't stay retired for long.

York Area Regional Police Chief Tom Gross looks over old photos of himself in December 2015, days before retiring. (Bill Kalina)

Next week, the 64-year-old takes over as executive director of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. He retired as police chief Jan. 23, although his last day at work was in December.

"I probably won't get many calls in the middle of the night like I used to," he said when asked how his new job will differ from his old one.

The mission of the 122-year-old Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association is to "promote excellence in service and expertise in law enforcement and public safety services, to advocate for law enforcement leaders and to provide innovative programs and training for (its) members," according to its website.

Gross previously served on the association's executive board, comprised of more than a dozen police chiefs from around the state, the website states.

He also is a founding member and current chair of the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, served on a subcommittee of the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency and was over the years was involved in a number of law-enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the York County Chiefs of Police Association.

Excited: Gross said that in his new position he'll be able to serve law enforcement officers in a number of ways. He called Pennsylvania's officers "great people."

"I'm excited about all of it," he said. "I think what I'll like the best is to continue to interact with law enforcement — from chiefs to front-line police officers. I love that kind of work and I love those kinds of interactions."

Gross said the association "wants to be the voice for change, the voice for what the best interests of law enforcement and the community are, and definitely the voice for law enforcement when people have questions on legislation."

He's been a member for more than 20 years, and on its executive board for about five years, he said, as well as one the original members of the state Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, which is run with a grant from the association. York Area Regional Police Department has been accredited since 2008.

Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said the association made a great selection in hiring Gross. The two of them have worked together in both York County's and Pennsylvania's chiefs of police associations.

"He brings a lot of years of experience to the table, which is certainly beneficial to the organization," Bentzel said. "He's a bright guy and I'm sure he'll do a great job in that position."

Thrice a chief: Over the past four decades, Gross rose to chief of three York County police departments — York City Police (where he was acting chief), York Township Police and York Area Regional Police.

He was born and raised in York City and became a city officer in 1973 after graduating from Penn State with a degree in law enforcement, he previously told The York Dispatch.

Gross holds a master's degree from Villanova University in human organization sciences/criminal justice and has for years taught at Harrisburg Area Community College's police academy.

Douglas Meisenhelter, a retired York City police officer and York County magisterial district judge, said he trusted Gross implicitly during shootouts and other life-and-death situations when the two patrolled York City together.

"He is a man of courage," as well as a role model and consummate officer, Meisenhelter said. "He wasn't one of those who, when things started to get difficult, disappeared. If you did the right thing, he stood by you. And that's the role of a supervisor, plain and simple."

Salary issue: The York Area Regional Police Commission paid Gross his entire 2016 salary of about $112,200 as part of a separation agreement when Gross retired, according to documents obtained by The York Dispatch.

The agreement states that Gross was never accused of, nor did he commit, any malfeasance or other act that would "give rise to his termination" and notes it was "a compromise settlement."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at