Community policing a top priority for new Kennett Square police chief

FRAN MAYE _ DIGITAL FIRST MEDIAWilliam Holdsworth, the new police chief in Kennett Square, tends to business at his desk.
FRAN MAYE _ DIGITAL FIRST MEDIAWilliam Holdsworth, the new police chief in Kennett Square, tends to business at his desk.

KENNETT SQUARE >> Now that he’s the new police chief, Bill Holdsworth said he will continue community policing in a big way.

Holdsworth, sworn in last month as only the third police chief in the borough in the past 45 years, said he and his squad of 15 officers plan to develop a unique relationship with business owners and residents.

“Community policing is something we are moving toward and it’s something we will initiate once the weather starts to break,” Holdsworth said. “I want to have the officers start stopping in to all the local businesses. We have a lot of new officers. The idea is to make a connection with the officers, have people get to know them.”

Holdsworth believes once residents and business leaders are comfortable with the officers, they won’t be afraid to call to share information.

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One quality of life issue Holdsworth has immediately taken aim of is speeding. Citations for speeding are up drastically in the past couple of months, and Holdsworth wants motorists to know those who don’t obey speed limits face stiff penalties.

“This is a small town, it’s a public safety issue, and I will make sure (speed) details are scheduled regularly,” Holdsworth said.

Holdsworth will continue scanning for overweight trucks, which cause premature wear to roads and are the target of complaints by residents. One officer is certified to use a portable scale, which is shared by Kennett Township. Holdsworth said he believes once improvement is made to the Old Baltimore Pike and Newark Road intersection, much of the truck traffic in town will be diverted.

The department will soon get license plate readers, which will enable an officer sitting in a patrol car to know if a motorist has any warrants or unpaid citations.

Holdsworth has the backing of Mayor Matt Fetick, who oversees the department.

“As he takes the reins of the police department, it is with the full support of my office as well as borough council,” Fetick said.

Holdsworth said it’s vitally important officers interact with the younger set.

“It’s a truly important connection,” Holdsworth said. “We need to build that level of respect and trust.”

Holdsworth inherits a department that has largely been devoid of major crime. In the past 10 years, there have been no murders, less than 10 rapes, and robberies average less than eight per year. These numbers are extremely favorable when compared to other small towns in the state. Even at the borough’s festivals such as Brewfest or the Mushroom Festival, there have been no arrests.

The borough’s officers use New Garden’s shooting range for firearms training, and Holdsworth said the relationship with neighboring police departments is outstanding.

About the Author

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.