Search narrows for new Logan chief

Logan Township has narrowed its search for a new police chief to fewer than four candidates, according to information provided Thursday after a supervisors meeting at which the board said goodbye to retiring Police Chief Tim Mercer — as well as retiring highway foreman Lamar Dively.

Supervisors are likely to decide on a new police chief by April 1, officials said.

If the decision takes longer, the board may look to make it by April 9, the last day for Mercer’s employment, said Township Manager Tim Brown.

The board’s next meeting is March 22, which is probably earlier than the board can decide on a candidate, because a consultant hired at Thursday’s meeting will need to conduct a background check on whomever the board favors with a conditional offer — and that check could take a few weeks, Brown said.

The board’s next meeting after that is April 12, so if the supervisors choose a new chief in the interim, the vote would need to be taken individually, member-by-member, if solicitor Larry Clapper gives legal permission for it, Brown said.

If it happens that way, the board would ratify the decision April 12, Brown said.

Mercer recently agreed to remain on the roster until April 9, extending his employment for the second time to maintain continuity of leadership in the police department during the longer-than-expected search for a chief.

It has taken longer because it has gone for two rounds, according to Clapper and Brown.

The township initially advertised in mid-December in the Mirror and on the website of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, according to Brown.

That advertisements netted 20 applicants, according to Brown.

The township’s Police Commission interviewed seven of them, then recommended two candidates to the supervisors, Brown said.

But the supervisors, who had five or six recommended candidates to choose from when they hired Mercer 2.5 years ago, asked for a larger pool, according to Brown.

So the borough readvertised, netting nine additional applicants, from which the commission interviewed five and then recommended two more to the supervisors.

On Monday, the supervisors interviewed all four of the commission-recommended candidates, Clapper said.

Clapper and Brown were coy about saying how many are still in contention, but Clapper indicated it wasn’t all four, but it was more than one.

With the retirement of Mercer and Dively, the township is losing 40 percent of its departmental leadership — two department heads out of five, Brown said.

Proclamations read to honor each of the retirees indicate that both have performed well.

Dively started in the highway department in 1995 and became foreman in 2008.

He was intelligent and energetic, kept the roads in good shape, took care of snow and ice promptly, was well-liked and departs with a “sterling reputation,” according to the proclamation.

“There was not a day that I got up for work that my road wasn’t plowed,” said Supervisor Ron Heller.

“Any words of wisdom?” Chairman Jim Patterson asked Dively.

“I married a good woman,” said Dively, as his wife, Kathryn, looked on.

Before coming to work for the township, Mercer, a native of Bellwood, graduated in 1988 from Penn State with a degree in administration of justice, served the state police for 27 years, becoming head of the Troop G region headquartered in Hollidaysburg and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel, then serving as deputy commissioner of administration and professional responsibility, after which he went to Penn State, becoming interim assistant vice president of university police and public safety.

His stint at Logan was “all too brief,” according to the proclamation.

But it came with improvements that included introduction of cruiser cameras, body cameras and the carrying of naloxone, according to the proclamation.

Mercer was an innovative chief and a mentor to his officers and leaves with “an impeccable reputation,” according to the proclamation.

It was gratifying to end his law enforcement career so close to home, Mercer told the supervisors, adding that the township will continue to be well-served by his officers, whom he holds in high esteem.

“Timothy, we’re going to miss you, buddy,” said Supervisor Ed Frontino, as they shook hands.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.