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Waynesboro police chief Phenicie resigns

May 13, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro Police Chief Glenn Phenicie will retire from the town's police department June 30 after nearly 30 years on the job, including 13 as chief.

Phenicie, 51, said he has been discouraged over his salary and the manner in which the Borough Council has ignored his requests for a raise.

"I'm the lowest paid police chief in this area, and I have a bigger department to run than some chiefs who are making more than me," he said. "I've asked the council for a raise and they haven't even gotten back to me."

Phenicie makes $43,000 a year.

"Patrolmen get benefits that I don't get as chief," he said.

He plans to become a part-time mail carrier in Greencastle, Pa., after he retires from the police department.

Phenicie graduated from Waynesboro Area High School in 1967. He joined the Army and saw 18 months of combat in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner from March 1968 to September 1969, he said. He got to Vietnam just when the Tet Offensive was ending and was in some of the war's major battles.

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"I was just a grunt," he said.

His unit flew troops into battle and picked them up afterward, including the wounded.

"We had to fight our way in and out," he said.

When he came home he worked in a local tool factory for about five months and decided he didn't like shop work. He was ready to re-enlist when he saw an ad for the Waynesboro Police Department.

"I had no big dream to become a police officer. I just saw the ad and applied," he said.

It was 1971. His starting salary as a patrolman was $5,800. Patrolmen today start at $29,000, he said.

Phenicie was 21 when he was hired, the youngest patrolman ever on the force, he said.

"I worked 55 to 60 hours a week, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. That was considered an eight-hour shift," he said. "We never got overtime or holiday pay, just 12 personal days. Today they get overtime after eight hours."

Phenicie said police work has changed during his years on the force, mostly in the area of illegal drugs. It takes more police time than ever, he said.

"Before I went in the Army, I didn't know anyone who used marijuana in high school. When I came home it was all over the place," he said.

He said in one recent bust where police arrested several dealers in a Waynesboro neighborhood, more than 20 young people and teens were standing around yelling at and insulting the officers for arresting the dealers and cutting off their supply.

"We used to see a lot of pot. Now we're seeing heroin and cocaine and the users are getting younger," he said. "We've gone from a drug problem to a drug epidemic."

Phenicie said one of the more rewarding aspects of his job as chief was being able to help young people who were headed for trouble take a straighter path. He recalls one case in which he wrote a letter to help a young man with a police record get into the Army.

The borough council has appointed Sgt. Ray Shultz acting chief until a permanent replacement for Phenicie can be found.

"I support Ray 100 percent. It will be a big mistake for the department if they don't make him chief," Phenicie said.

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