Supporters came out in force to welcome York City's new police commissioner

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

There was no polite applause at York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony Thursday on the steps of the city police department.

Cheers, hoots and heartfelt clapping? No shortage of them. Singing, dancing and hugging — including by the city police department's newest mascot, Yorky? Yes, all of that.

There were some tears too, but happy ones. They were mostly shed by Muldrow, who told the crowd of supporters that those who know him know he's emotional.

"I'm seeing my whole life in front of me," he told the crowd. "I love you all."

York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow wipes a tear while speaking during a public celebration for the new commissioner outside the York City Police Department Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. 
Bill Kalina photo

As Mayor Michael Helfrich prepared to conduct the ceremonial swearing in of Muldrow, he told the crowd that they had been discussing Muldrow leading the police department for a year.

"This is a very, very special day for us in York City," Helfrich said. "I knew this was the man who could unite us. … He grew up playing on these steps."

Muldrow, 45, was officially sworn in Oct. 26, city officials have said. Thursday's swearing in was for the public, the community and for the new commissioner's loved ones. 

'The goal is progress': Helfrich and Muldrow hugged after the commissioner took the oath of office again Thursday, prompting loud cheering. At the commissioner's request, wife Nakesha Muldrow and current and retired York City police officers stood beside him. He called them his team.

"I'm not going to get this work done by myself. … We're going to need everybody to tackle this problem," he told the crowd. "The goal is change. The goal is growth. The goal is progress … and a department you can be proud of."

As he spoke, supporters called out words of encouragement.

"We love you, Commish!" one man yelled. 

Change won't happen with just handcuffs and guns, the commissioner said.

Muldrow pointed out York County District Attorney Dave Sunday standing in the crowd and said he knows he and Sunday will be able to work together.

He said the DA recently told him that crimes committed in York City make up 19% of the crimes in York County. The crowd cheered some more, clearly pleased.

York City School District Police Officer Britney Brooks sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" during the ceremony. Muldrow, her former boss, spent 12 years as chief of the school district's police department.

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As she sang the latter song, Muldrow held 5-year-old granddaughter Naiara in his arms and simply took in the moment.

'Diverse group': The commissioner asked Pastor Bill Kerney, senior pastor of Covenant Family Ministries and president of the Black Ministers' Association of York, to lead a prayer for the safety of city officers and that York City be blessed.

York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow holds his granddaughter Naiara Greer, 5, as York School District Police officer Britney Brooks sings during a public celebration for the new commissioner outside the York City Police Department Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Kerney prayed for those things, as well as for unity. He told the crowd it will take hard work and sacrifice, but that York City isn't too far from achieving its goals.

"I see a salad bowl," he told the crowd. "This is a diverse group of people."

DA Sunday and York City Fire Chief Chad Deardorff both said they're looking forward to working with Muldrow.

"It's an exciting time," Deardorff said.

Current and former city officers showed up for Muldrow, including Lower Windsor Township Police Chief Dave Arnold, who was a city police captain; York City District Judge James Morgan and retired city chief Mike Hill.

York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow, left, is sworn-in by York Mayor Michael Helfrich during a public celebration for the new commissioner outside the York City Police Department Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020.
Bill Kalina photo

Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, was there, as were members of York City Council and the York City School District. York City's clergy was represented there, and so were community advocates, Muldrow's loved ones and residents who simply wanted to be part of the celebration.

People danced and sang to music provided by Kyle Moore, who goes by DJay Moore. Mission BBQ and Maple Donuts provided food.

The background: Muldrow was chosen by Helfrich to succeed outgoing Commissioner Osborne "Moe" Robinson III and was unanimously approved by the York City Council.

Muldrow has said he considers both the York City community and its police department his family. He also said his life revolves around the city.

The new police commissioner said he wants the community to see city officers as he does and has said that, as commissioner, he intends to address concerns and build trust between residents and their police department.

"This is my chance — our chance — to work on healing," he said.

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

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