West Manheim Twp. says goodbye to retired police chief

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

West Manheim Township's former police chief said he feels blessed to have spent more than three decades engaging with, and serving, his community.

"That's what we need to do as police officers," Tim Hippensteel said. "One thing I always told my guys is ... if you treat people like you want your mom or your wife or your daughter treated, you're going to have a good, healthy career."

Township residents have described him as dedicated, caring and always willing to do more than simply what was required.

West Manheim Twp. Police Chief Tim Hippensteel poses with 11-year-old Christopher Thompson on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Hippensteel bought Christopher's 9-year-old sister, Katelyn, a new bicycle after hers was stolen.
(Photos courtesy of Stephanie Thompson)

"He touched our family's heart," township resident Stephanie Thompson told The York Dispatch in August 2017.

The chief bought Thompson's daughter, Katelyn, a new bicycle last summer after hers was stolen and police were unable to locate it.

"For him to take the time to help my 9-year-old? It's just fantastic," Thompson said last summer.

She said Hippensteel could be found nearly every day directing buses in front of West Manheim Elementary School. Thompson said she once saw him sitting in a dunk tank to help raise money for the local Cub Scout troop, of which her son Christopher is a member.

31-year career: Hippensteel, 55, was hired as a township officer in June 1988 after spending about a year as a Bonneauville police officer, he said. He became a Bonneauville officer on Easter morning 1987.

West Manheim Township Police Chief Tim Hippensteel

Raised just south of Cross Keys in Adams County, he was promoted to West Manheim's chief in 2006.

"I've met a lot of wonderful people and worked with a lot of wonderful people," Hippensteel said. "I consider myself blessed to have spent 30 years there."

His last day at work was June 30. The next day was weird and bittersweet, the retired chief said.

"It's going to be an adjustment," he acknowledged, but  added that he's ready to tackle a new adventure. "I'm going to miss the heck out of the guys, but I'm not necessarily going to miss the phone ringing at 2 or 3 in the morning."

More:W. Manheim police chief's gesture brings 9-year-old to tears

He said he always followed his gut and his heart and encouraged his officers to do the same.

His compassion carried over to the entire community, West Manheim Township manager Marc Woerner has said. He noted that Hippensteel is respected in the community.

Overwhelmed: The retired chief said he was overwhelmed by the gestures township residents made after learning he was retiring.

West Manheim Twp. Police Chief Tim Hippensteel searched for 9-year-old Katelyn Thompson's stolen bicycle for five days. Then he simply bought her a new one on Friday,  Aug. 18, 2017.
(Photos courtesy of Stephanie Thompson)

Some brought  cake to the police station,  another brought in a 3-foot-long sub, and the township's public works crew presented him with a golden shovel, he said.

From the township and fellow employees, he  received a plaque and a shadowbox of his personal police memorabilia.

"I cried more than once, and I'm not afraid to admit it whatsoever," Hippensteel said.

A 1981 graduate of New Oxford High School, he joined the New Oxford Community Fire Co. as a teenager. He was assistant fire chief there from 1991 to 1995 and served as a volunteer EMT on its ambulance.

That's where he encountered Jane Olsen in 1985.

Olsen told The York Dispatch that Hippensteel delivered her daughter in an apartment with no electricity. It was his second baby-delivery, the retired chief said, and conditions weren't optimal.

West Manheim Twp. Police Chief Tim Hippensteel, early in his career as a patrolman.

Community 'lucky': "Chief Hippensteel is the kindest man I've ever had the pleasure to encounter in my life," Olsen said. "He not only delivered my daughter ... but held her in his arms on the way to the hospital. West Manheim (was) lucky to have him."

Hippensteel raised his own three children in Oxford Township, Adams County, until 2004, when the family moved to Heidelberg Township, he said.

His son, Sam, is 25; daughter Olivia is 22; and youngest AnaBelle is 20.

Asked to describe his best day as a police officer, Hippensteel was unable to choose.

"There were a lot of 'best days,'" he said. "There were a ton of good days. ... Every day is different."

New chief: New West Manheim Police Chief Edwin "Jeff" Schneider has been with the department since 1986 and was a patrolman first class before being promoted to chief, according to Hippensteel.

West Manheim Twp. Police Chief Jeff Schneider

He described Schneider as hardworking, dedicated and a great officer.

"I'm very happy for him and very comfortable with (the township's) decision," Hippensteel said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.