National, local leaders, residents bid West Chester’s top cop farewell

WEST CHESTER TWP. — The highest-ranking law enforcement official in this booming Butler County community was the center of a recent retirement celebration thanking him for helping make the township one of the best in America.

West Chester Twp. is regularly heralded in national surveys as one of most livable communities in the nation.

And last week West Chester Twp. Police Chief Joel Herzog was praised in person by local, county, state officials — and former Speaker of the U.S. House and sometime local resident John Boehner — who gathered with joined dozens of township residents and employees at Herzog’s retirement party at the historic Muhlhauser Barn.

Hired by the township police department in 1991, Herzog worked his way up the ranks — including an early stint as one of the force’s first K-9 Unit officers — to a 2014 promotion to chief over the $18 million law enforcement department.

But it’s not the promotions, awards or leadership positions he’ll miss the most, he said at his farewell event, but the people he worked with for decades.

“Everyone of them come to work every day excited and proud to be a police officer and especially in West Chester,” said the 33-year police veteran and former member of the U.S. Air Force.

“That’s what we thrive on that allows us to give back to the community to make it a safer community,” said Herzog, himself a township resident.

During his decades in the township, there have been sweeping changes and explosive residential and business growth along with a growing regularity of acclaim by national publications for the quality of life — including public safety — in the community.

West Chester was recently ranked 13th on a list of the “50 Best Places to Live for Families” in the United States by Fortune Magazine.

“It’s a great place to work, live, play and I am just humbled I have been able to lead.”

And West Chester Trustee Mark Welch, along with other officials and residents at the event, let Herzog know his career was appreciated.

“Chief Herzog has been a pillar of conscience and honesty and truth for the township,” said Welsh.

“I can’t say enough good things about Chief Herzog and I wish him the best in his retirement.”

Resident Judith Buchanan echoed Welsh, saying Herzog and the West Chester Police are one of the many reasons her family has lived in the township for more than three decades.

“I have a lot of respect for West Chester Police and particularly Chief Herzog as their leader. And I’m hear to today to pay him respect,” said Buchanan.

Herzog said the event and retirement has been emotional for him.

“Anything I get credit for, I didn’t do. They (his department) did it. They made me look good,” he said, adding “I’ll miss the people.”

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