DUNCANSVILLE - A former Altoona police detective sergeant will take on the job of Blair Township police chief.
Roger A. White, 54, who worked for 24 years for Altoona and currently heads the police department at St. Francis University in Loretto, was named Friday to succeed Chief Randall Lingenfelter, who retired in March.
"This is a good opportunity for me, and I'm looking forward to leading the department," White said.
His starting date is expected to be around July 1.
Supervisors Eric Prendergast and Patty Steward voted during a special meeting to hire White at $26.20 per hour, the same rate Lingenfelter was earning.
Supervisor Arlene Bush voted no, because she wanted to promote Assistant Chief Jeremy Hetrick. The township has traditionally promoted from within, she said, and putting Hetrick in that position and retaining the current full-time officers would save the township $15,000.
Prendergast and Steward declined to second Bush's motion to hire Hetrick.
Prendergast said he considered White and Paul Maxey of Pottsville to be the most qualified of the 10 or 11 applicants. He said interviews were conducted with assistance from a 40-year-veteran police officer who now works as a risk assessor for H.A. Thompson, the township's insurance carrier.
"I think you have to look at who's the most qualified individual to take this department to a new level," Prendergast said.
White's resume shows that he started his law enforcement career in 1981 as a part-time officer for Hollidaysburg and a full-time officer for Altoona. He remained with the Altoona department through 2004 and worked his way up to supervise the criminal investigation division.
In 2005, White became executive director of the Criminal Justice Training Center at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he coordinated research and curriculum development as well as worked with law enforcement training sites. He took the job at St. Francis in May 2010.
Bush said she has nothing against White.
"This just proves it's not a budget issue," Bush said. "We could save money by promoting Jeremy."
In December, when supervisors were working on the 2011 budget, saving money was an issue. That's when Prendergast and Steward voted, despite protests, to reduce the police department from five officers to four and to furlough Officer Alex Vazquez. After Lingenfelter retired, Vazquez was recalled from furlough as required by the department's union contract. When White begins working for the township, Vazquez will be furloughed again, and the department will remain at four full-time officers, Prendergast said.
White acknowledged that promoting from within a police department is a common practice in Blair County.
"I'm glad they're giving me a chance," White said. "I think that says a lot for the leadership."
White holds a master's degree in criminal justice from Boston University and a bachelor of science degree in the administration of criminal justice from Mountain State University in Beckley, W.Va.
He is a certified fire investigator, fraud examiner and firearms instructor, and a graduate of the Federal Emergency Management Institute in Emmittsburg, Md.