Gloucester Township Police Chief David Harkins’ first public message spoken during the Change of Command Ceremony held on Monday, November 4, 2019:
“Honored….I am honored to be standing here before you all, and I am honored to serve you, and I am honored to serve with you, and to be part of the Gloucester Township Police family.
To my family and non-police friends,…especially my wife Lisa, my children David and Gracie, my parents, and my in-laws, my brother, my sister, and my brother in-laws…thank you for your unwavering support and love….I know that I would not be here without you, and I love you all.
I want to thank Mayor Mayer and Council for having the faith in me to be Chief of Police of this great Department in this great community. It has been a pleasure to work with you as Deputy Chief of Police, and I am honored to serve as your Chief of Police.
I thank Chief Harry Earle for his mentoring and leadership of the Department over the past 9 years, steering the Department to become one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the country.
I thank past Chiefs, especially Chief Ed Smith, Chief John Stollsteimer, and Chief Andy Fox, who were great examples of how to be a leader.
I want to thank the Fraternal Order of Police for their support and always looking out for our members.
To all my colleagues from other Police Departments, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and EMS: I thank you for your support and friendship over the years, I am honored to call you my brothers and sisters.
To all the retired Officers and Supervisors who I have had the sincere honor to have served with, I thank you for all of the experiences I have had, some good and some bad, I assure you that I have learned from all of them. Please know that you are part of our heritage and traditions, and will always be part of the Gloucester Township Police Family.
To the Community of Gloucester Township:
While it is me that is standing before you now; representing the Gloucester Township Police Department, please recognize that it is the great men and women of the Department that matter the most. While it is my responsibility to lead them, it is they who will bear the brunt of the duties in which we have all sworn to. They are where the rubber hits the road. It is they who will be put in harm’s way. It is they who will have to make life and death decisions in a matter of seconds. It is they who will have to decide how to dispatch an emergency call, and it is they who will be there a make an arrest of an offender, save a life, or console someone who has just lost someone. Please know that these are some of the finest police officers, dispatchers, and civilian staff that I have ever known. Know that they are highly trained, and are very well equipped.
But also know that they CARE, and that they are honored to serve this community of Gloucester Township. It is they who have made our community policing initiatives work. And it is they who will continue to improve and make our community safer. We know that you expect the very best from us, and I am here to tell you that you will get our very best.
Know that all of US are honored to serve YOU.
To the families of those with whom I serve:
I want to thank and recognize the families of those who serve in the Gloucester Township Police Department. I am well aware of the sacrifices that we burden you with. I want to assure you that I do not take it lightly that your loved one may be put into harm’s way, often at my direction. But I want you to know that you and your loved one are part of another family….The Gloucester Township Police family. I want you to know that we will take care of each other, and that I will do all in my power to provide your loved one with what is necessary to be safe.
I am honored to be part of this family.
To those being promoted or sworn in tonight:
I want to congratulate each and every one of you. Tonight is not all about me; it is about each of you. Be very proud of your accomplishments, because each of you has not been given anything, you have all earned it. Whether it is a promotion, or you are being ceremoniously sworn in, we all recognize that this is a momentous occasion in your life, and that you should savor it.
I am honored to serve with each of you.
To all of those I am currently serving with:
The Command Staff, the Supervisors, the Officers, the Special Officers, the Dispatchers, the Civilian support staff, the Volunteers, the Chaplains, all of the Gloucester Township Police Department. I thank you for your tireless dedication to this great community of Gloucester Township. I am truly honored to serve with each and every one of you. We often here about the thin blue line. I recently heard of another description of what law enforcement is. The term was the “thin blue thread that holds a democratic society together”. I feel as though this is an accurate description of what we are, and of what we do. We are the thin blue thread which runs through our community, you hold it together during good times and during bad times. You are interwoven through our community, and serve as an example of what it is to be a dedicated and respected servant to the community. Yours is the most honorable of professions. Wh ether you know it or not, you are all servant leaders.
Early in my career, a wise officer taught me that you may never know of the impact your actions will make on someone’s life, or of the crime or trouble you may prevent. I was taught to treat others as you would want your family to be treated, with respect and dignity. This is what servant leadership is. As police officers, dispatchers, and support staff; we are servant leaders by bringing peace to chaos, by stopping a threat, and to bring joy or consolation to others who are in desperate need of it. By your actions of servant leadership you can change the course of history.
So I challenge each of you as I will challenge myself…..Do the little things right; and I assure you that the big things will turn out OK. Never lose sight of our values of Courage, Honesty, Respect, Fairness, Compassion, and Integrity. Never forget what our mission is and who we serve. Strive to be servant leaders, by taking the time to care for those we serve, and sacrificing for those in need.
In closing, I will ask each and every one of you to never forget why it is we were all called to this profession in which we love.
I am honored to serve with each and every one of you, and I give you my word that you will get the best that I have to offer.
Thank you and Stay Safe.”
Chief David J. Harkins #122