Departing Southwestern Regional Police chief reflects on 17 years

Southwestern Regional Police Chief Greg Bean holds a press conference on the murder of Samantha Stein, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

In 2002, after 20 years as a police officer in Florida, Greg Bean took over as chief of the newly formed Southwestern Regional Police Department.

“To have the opportunity to start a police department is one in a million," Bean said.

On Thursday, April 18, Bean announced he is resigning from his position after 17 years. He accepted a management position at the PA Chiefs of Police Association in Harrisburg.

“It’s been a great experience," Bean said.

The regional department serves North Codorus Township, Heidelberg Township, Manheim Township and Spring Grove. 

The chief said he's leaving in an attempt to be part of the "solution," after potential staffing decreases following North Codorus Township's decision to withdraw from the department by year's end. 

More:Amid turmoil, Southwestern Regional Police chief says he's resigning

More:North Codorus could shave $100K for police with different agency

More:Police debate fuels political challenge in North Codorus

Experience: As chief, he gets to see the "highest highs" and the "lowest lows" of the department, he said.

For instance, he said when an officer does well, it's gratifying because he was able to give the officers the tools and abilities to do so. 

But, if the department makes a mistake, or things don't go as well — the lows are lower, according to Bean.

"I think the chief has a little more feeling of responsibility for the entire group," he said.

In 2002, Bean told The York Dispatch how communication was key for policing.

“We have to be part of the community for this to work very well," he said. 

At the time, the department was about to install a new phone system that would allow residents to reach any of the officers directly. 

Now, Bean said, there are many different ways for residents to contact the department — as it should be. 

“The only way the police department knows what a community wants is to listen," he said.

And having that information relayed to the department is something that's been a benefit to reducing crime in the municipalities, according to Bean.

Crime reduced: The chief has been vocal about the reduction in crime in the 17 years since the department's creation. 

During the department's first year, the chief said, calls for service doubled what was expected.

At first, there was a thought that crime was getting worse in the four areas, but that wasn't the case, according to the chief.

“The point on all that was people trusted us to call us," he said, adding that because the patrols were out in the neighborhoods, people knew they could call the department to solve their problems.

In 2019, he announced that crime had been cut by 47% in the coverage areas.

“It was the credit of the residents that took the time to call and let us know what’s going on," he said.

Southwestern Regional Police Chief Greg Bean speaks during the township supervisors monthly meeting Tuesday, March 19, 2019. In October, supervisors submitted their intent to abandon the service of the Southwestern Regional Police by the end of 2019, citing rising costs as the reason behind the departure. Bill Kalina photo

Being chief means there's no sense of "we completed our task" and that the calls never stop. 

The problems are never fully solved, and the "full plate of duties," don't go away, he said.

"It will be nice to maybe get off the 'treadmill' and be able to have a little more of a normal day and normal night when your time is your own and your shift is over," he said.

The chief said he'll miss certain things about the job, such as the sense of belonging he has with the community, or calling a victim to let them know the officers arrested a suspect.

"Those are very gratifying things, and I think why police officers do what they do," he said.

Bean's last day is June 5. Even though he is leaving, he said his commitment to the department won't change.

“Having started a police department makes Southwestern near and dear to my life,” he said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.