By Brandon Stoneburg
The new Q&A series with local police chiefs is meant to show people a different side of the men and women behind the badge. Up first is Gregory Bean, police chief of Southwestern Regional, which covers the Spring Grove Borough as well as North Codorus, Heidelberg and Manheim townships. We spoke on a wide range of topics from his experience in Florida to some behind-the-scenes tidbits from the department.
Question: Where are you from and where did you go to school?
Answer: I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, raised in Hershey and graduated from Hershey High, HACC and Eastern Kentucky University. While living and working in South Florida for 20 years, I attended graduate school at Florida Atlantic University, where I received my Masters in public administration.
Q: How long have you been with your department?
A: Our department began operations in July 2002. I was hired in February of that year to do all the things needed to begin operations. So I guess I was the first employee/chief.
Q: Did you always want to be a police officer growing up?
A: I wanted to be an architect or physician in high school until my older brother began criminal justice courses in college and I would read his text books. I guess I was hooked after that and he was very influential on my aspirations. He joined a large sheriff’s office in Florida and just recently retired from the FBI.
Q: When you’re not policing the streets, what is your favorite thing to do?
A: Fun things. We do many things as a family. We have two boys and a girl all in public school or higher education. Most of our time revolves around a motor home that we have had for almost 15 years. We enjoy going to the kids’ sporting events, professional sporting events, traveling in general, hunting and fishing. With family still in Florida, we travel there a lot, as well as the mountains and the beach.
Q: Favorite local spot to eat?
A: One of our favorite local food spots would have to be The Altland House in Abbottstown (top and bottom floors). You can’t argue with the fact that you have two different types of restaurants every time you go there. We usually try both! I would have to also admit I will sneak in for a Famous Weiner hot dog on the way to a local baseball game. It goes so with baseball, so that’s another favorite.
Q: Describe the Spring Grove area in one sentence.
A: The Spring Grove/Hanover area has the beauty of rural Pennsylvania, shopping in Hanover that has a huge variety and is capped off with people who are friendly and hospitable.
Q: If someone was coming to the area for the first time, where would you recommend they visit?
A: We do have many friends and former neighbors throughout the country who like to visit. We will usually get to Codorus State Park for boating, fishing and camping and then Gettysburg is always a visitors’ favorite destination. History and some pretty cool restaurants are always appreciated by guests.
Q: One thing people may not know about what goes on in a police department?
A: Officers are usually able to remain pretty calm, cool and collected at a scene when others’ emotions can run high. When they come back to the confines of the station, they sometimes show their emotional side, whether it’s relief, sadness or grief. That is usually handled among other officers out of view of the public. This allows them to deal with their own emotions which is an important and necessary part of the job.
Q: What’s one fact people may not know about you?
A: Something I didn’t mention about myself earlier was that I can handle a large alligator or crocodile any time we have one wonder this way. The Palm Beach County Police Academy and routine nuisance gators in Florida allowed me to get pretty efficient. Anything under about 12 feet in length and I’m okay.