When Richland Township police Chief Richard Barlett announced his retirement this spring, it kicked off a statewide search.
Turns out, they didn’t need to look nearly that far.
Sgt. Michael S. Burgan, who has spent the last 25 years patrolling the township’s streets, has been named police chief, making him just the fourth in the department’s 50-year history.
“This is a great situation for me,” said Burgan, 50, of Richland. “This is a department that has done a great job attracting and maintaining quality officers – many of them that have a large amount of experience here.”
Burgan takes over a 25-member force that includes 19 full-time officers.
He’ll be overseeing a department with a $2 million annual budget and strives to serve and protect a township of nearly 13,000 residents.
In township Supervisor Robert Heffelfinger’s eyes, Burgan’s “passion” for his profession stood out among fellow finalists.
“Mike exemplifies passion for this job ... for this township and its residents,” said Heffelfinger, a longtime Richland firefighter. ”When you step back and look at his resume, there was no doubt he was qualified for this job – but to me that was what put him over the top.”
At last week’s meeting, township Supervisor Wayne Langerholc cited Burgan’s professionalism as another key attribute.
The board is “confident” he has what it takes to lead the department, he added.
The board spent more than four months searching for Barlett’s replacement. In January, they turned to an outside group, the Pa. Chiefs of Police Association, to find a short list of candidates.
Over the past six weeks, they whittled a list of six finalists down to three – and then Burgan.
Township officials touted Burgan’s lengthy experience.
The Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran has worked in law enforcement for 28 years.
Burgan said he also has served as a Penn State and Johnstown Police Academy instructor, and master instructor with the Municipal Police Officers Training and Education Commission.
Burgan credited longtime Chief Jim Mock for preparing him to lead, calling him “a mentor.”
“My goal is to tap into the talents we have here and forge ahead,” Burgan said.
One of the first major tasks will be formulating a multiyear plan to replace much of the department’s aging vehicle fleet, he added.
Burgan also wants to make the department more visible online.
That will mean an overhaul to the department’s website, and a presence on social networks such as Facebook, he added.
“That’s what people use. It can be one more tool for us ... one more way to reach out to the public,” Burgan said.
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