David Gehret, acting chief of the Hollidaysburg Police Department, said a former superior, David Shiffler, had a way of making people feel comfortable.
Shiffler, who spent 39 years with the department and retired as chief in 2003, could "talk his way out of the most volatile situation," Gehret said.
"He just had a knack for calming people down and just making them feel like he was there to help, instead of there to arrest them," Gehret said.
Shiffler, 72, died Friday in Hollidaysburg. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and two daughters.
Gehret said that he could recall an instance when a man came to the department to protest a $2 parking ticket. Shiffler, Gehret said, heard the commotion in his office and came out to talk to the man. He offered to pay for the ticket if the man could not, pulling $2 out of his pocket, Gehret said.
The man quickly took care of his own ticket after that, Gehret recalled.
"He just had a way with people," Gehret said. "He was just incredible."
Duncansville Police Chief Jim Ott said that Shiffler helped him transition into his leadership role.
He said Shiffler was always available to give him advice or to chat.
"You could go down at any time and sit in his office," Ott said.
Ott said Shiffler also encouraged collaboration between departments and was always willing to lend a hand to a neighboring police force. If Duncansville police were called in to assist Hollidaysburg, Shiffler was always extremely gracious and thankful, he said.
An example of this, he said, is when Hollidaysburg police were seeking a suspect, and Duncansville and Blair Township police assisted in catching that person.
"He came in later and just went overboard on thanking us and letting us know how much it was appreciated that we could come help them," Ott said. "You felt like you were part of that (Hollidaysburg police) family just because of the thanks that he gave back."
Shiffler also went above and beyond for his own police officers, Gehret said. He said the former chief was very invested in making sure the Hollidaysburg officers had the newest police technology, taking the department "from old school policing into modern policing."
Gehret said he ensured that officers had laptops in their patrol cars and, in 1995, established the borough's first bike patrol.
"The chief would actually come out and ride bikes with us in the evening after working an eight-hour shift in daylight," Gehret said.
Ott echoed the sentiment, saying Shiffler was a great leader for local police.
"Anything to do with law enforcement, he was a big advocate of," Ott said.
Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.