Barracks commander living childhood dream

February 10, 1998|By DON AINES

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

click for enlargement

Barracks commander living childhood dream

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County, Pa., native will officially take over as the commander of the Pennsylvania State Police barracks here later this month.

"In my childhood, I always wanted to be a state trooper. That was always my goal," Sgt. Thomas Barkdoll said Tuesday. Born and raised in State Line, Barkdoll will be promoted to lieutenant in a Feb. 19 ceremony at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in Hershey, Pa.

Since October, when John Thierwechter was promoted to captain and transferred to state police headquarters in Harrisburg, Barkdoll has been the acting barracks commander. He has been stationed at the barracks since 1995.


A graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, Barkdoll graduated from Shippensburg University in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in administration of justice. His first law enforcement job was as a borough police officer in Gettysburg, Pa.

He joined the state police in 1983 and was assigned to the Indiana, Pa., barracks. In January 1985, he was transferred to Chambersburg.

Barkdoll, 39, was promoted to corporal in 1989 and went to Philadelphia, where he supervised a driver examination center. That was followed by Pennsylvania Turnpike assignments in Highspire and Newville, Pa., before his transfer to Chambersburg three years ago.

He will mark his 15th year with the state police in April. He and his wife Samie, a registered nurse, live in Chambersburg.

Barkdoll promised that he and other supervisors at the barracks would be accessible to residents when they have questions or concerns about the state police.

"Being a resident and growing up here, I believe I understand the people better than some of my predecessors," Barkdoll said. He quickly noted that Thierwechter was also from this area.

"I truly believe I have some big shoes to fill," he said. Thierwechter had been commander since 1991, providing stability for the barracks, Barkdoll said.

As commander of the barracks, he is in charge of about 65 people, including 36 positions for uniformed officers, 10 criminal investigators, seven patrol supervisors and several other officers and civilian employees.

"You're only as good as the men and women you have working under you," Barkdoll said.

"I remember where I came from as a patrolman and I have to look out for their needs," he said.

Nevertheless, Barkdoll expects strict enforcement of the law and "the highest ideals of professionalism. I have the highest expectations of my men."

Those troopers have a great deal of ground to cover. State police provide services to 14 of Franklin County's 15 townships and 27 miles of Interstate 81, according to Barkdoll.

"We're one of the busiest stations in the state," he said.

"One of my main goals is to continue to work very closely with the various municipal police departments" and law enforcement-related agencies in the county and in neighboring jurisdictions, he said.

"Working together we can get a lot more accomplished, clear more cases," he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles