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A longtime ranking Southwestern Regional police officer has been chosen to take over as chief of a Lancaster County police department.

West Hempfield Township officials unanimously chose Detective Sgt. Lisa Layden to replace retiring Chief Mark Pugliese, according to a township news release.

"It really hasn't sunk in yet," Layden, 52, told The York Dispatch on Friday, March 22.

She said she will be sworn in April 2 and expects to start April 15.

"I'm leaving here with a heavy heart," Layden said. "I've been here for over 23 years, and the Southwestern Regional officers are my family. It's going to be tough."

She said she'll also miss the team members with whom she worked at the York County District Attorney's Office and the county's Child Advocacy Center. Layden has investigated child-abuse cases for many years and is certified federally as a child-abuse expert witness. 

Southwestern Regional Police Chief Greg Bean described Layden as one of the most respected officers in York County.

"She is intelligent, well-spoken and loves her job," he said. "Those are ideal traits for a stellar officer. She will be sorely missed ... but as a chief, I couldn't be happier that one of our own will help guide and be part of a great team in Lancaster County."

Excited, grateful: Layden said despite her sadness about leaving her York County law-enforcement family, she's excited and grateful to be West Hempfield's new chief.

She said she's found the community to be family-oriented and the police department to be professional and cutting-edge.

"I'm honored to be their new police chief," she said.

Asked whether uncertainty about the future of the Southwestern Regional Police Department factored into her decision to leave, Layden said she had been "looking to do something new."

"I really hope they work things out," she said of the department's issues with municipal member North Codorus Township. "It would be very sad to see what we've built and accomplished here lost."

Layden was named Southwestern's officer of the year in 2002, 2012 and 2017 and was given the department's academic-achievement award in 2007 and 2010.

Higher education: She holds a master's degree in public administration from Penn State and is working toward a doctorate degree there as well. She earned a bachelor's degree in behavioral science from York College.

Layden runs 5K races and is training to run marathons, according to West Hempfield's news release. She and husband Dale live in York County and have three grown sons.

Publicity about Layden being chosen as the new chief has been a bit overwhelming, she admitted.

"I like to fly under the radar," Layden said.

Her first policing job was with the former West Fairview Borough Police Department in Cumberland County, where she spent several months before being hired in 1996 as a full-time officer with North Codorus Township Police. That department became part of Southwestern Regional in July 2002.

Pugliese has been with West Hempfield Township Police for 35 years, 17 of them as chief, according to the township's news release.

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

 

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