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29-year Waynesboro police veteran to retire

October 08, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Sgt. Edward Gebhart, a 29-year veteran officer with the Waynesboro Police Department, said Thursday he'll turn in his badge and gun Oct. 31 and enter the ranks of the retired.

"It's going to be hard to replace someone with 29 years experience," Police Chief Ray Shultz said. "He's a good guy and a hard worker."

Shultz, a cop on the force for 22 years, said he and Gebhart worked together as patrolmen in the early days.

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Gebhart, 53, said he's considering taking another job, somewhat police-related, once he leaves the police department.

He said a main reason for retiring, besides the fact that he "can't chase kids around the streets anymore," is the way police work is changing.

A strong advocate of community policing, Gebhart's philosophy has always been that officers need contact with citizens on the street.

"The younger generation has a different opinion on how the job is done," he said. "I was hired to enforce the law and provide protection to citizens of the borough by patrolling the streets and through general patrol practices. You have to be seen on the streets as well as in the cruiser to cut down crime."

Young officers today believe their role is to patrol in cruisers, he said. "They think they're more visible in the car, but you don't have that personal contact on the street."

He also said the paperwork weighs him down. "I always put being on the street over paperwork and that got me in trouble at times."

Gebhart, who lives in Zullinger, Pa., west of Waynesboro, said he'll miss the day-to-day contact with the public.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said Gebhart "has been a good, loyal and dedicated officer over the years. Ed could always be depended on."

Hamberger said he has started the process to find a replacement for Gebhart

The department's full complement is 19 officers. Gebhart's retirement will leave the department with two vacancies.

Shultz said he will go through his current list of applicants in an attempt to find suitable candidates.

The starting salary for officers is around $32,000, he said.

Gebhart said that when he started in 1975 he was making about $7,000 a year. His current sergeant's salary is around $46,000, Hamberger said.

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