I spent much of my youth growing up in north-central Pennsylvania keeping company with the likes of the Hardy Boys and the Three Investigators. So graduating from college in 1983 and enlisting in the Pennsylvania State Police in 1984 didn't come as a shock to my parents. For nearly twenty-seven years I lived a dream and life only visible to the uninitiated through newspapers, books, or television. Available 24/7, each day offered uncertainty, the chance for adventure, and a special bond with like-minded men and women. More important, every day provided an opportunity to help those in need.
Working for one of the largest full-service law enforcement agencies in the country provided opportunities not available to most police officers. I've proudly worn the uniform of the patrol officer, traded my vest for a beard to work undercover, and shopped for suits to conduct criminal investigations. In one of the more memorable moments as a young patrol corporal in 1989, I participated in the police response to the Camp Hill Prison riots, which destroyed nearly half of the state correctional institution and resulted in hundreds of injuries. The sights, sounds, and smells of the facility burning at night, helicopters circling low illuminating unrestrained inmates, and platoons of troopers retaking the facility remain etched in my mind.
I was fortunate to rise through the ranks and reach troop and area command level, where I oversaw the activity of more than 1100 state police personnel through some 7,529 square miles of the Commonwealth. At various points in my career, I detoured through the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, eventually receiving assignment as Director. While in the bureau on September 11th, 2001, I, like many Americans, sadly watched as the events of that tragic day unfolded in New York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, PA. Ensconced in the state police command post at department headquarters, I had no idea of the changes to come.
Subsequent reviews identified intelligence failures as a major contributing factor to the attacks. As commander of the Intelligence Division and later Director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, my responsibility, along with many other competent professionals, was to review the state police policies and practices regarding intelligence gathering, storage, analysis, and sharing. As a result, we created the state's first criminal intelligence center and department watch center providing a more rapid and seamless integration of information.
A few years later on October 2, 2006, I faced the most noteworthy event of my career. On that morning, a disgruntled truck driver took ten young Amish girls hostage in a one-room school house in Lancaster County, PA. Shortly after barricading himself inside, he systematically shot each of the girls, resulting in five deaths and five critically injured children. My duties as Area Commander included helping to coordinate the response and investigation of this horrendous event. Throughout the following whirlwind five days, we investigated, interacted with a battalion of media personalities, and grieved with the victims' families. I traveled the country for the next two years sharing lessons-learned as well as provoking debate on the topic of school violence and response to critical incidents.
I received appointment by the governor to the rank of Deputy Commissioner in 2008. I retired three years later. Looking back, I realize my career in law enforcement had been more than a simple livelihood. It provided me with experiences too numerous to detail. I have been honored to share important moments in people's lives and bewildered by the human capacity for both love and hate.
I have divided my time over the past seven years between family, consulting on law enforcement & security matters, and trekking through the minefield of the writing/publishing business. It is my goal to provide guidance to individuals and industries that will afford better protection to persons and property and to provide readers with works of fiction that exhibit an authenticity born from experience.
I currently reside in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with my lovely wife Beth. Married for 32 years, we have two sons, Josh and Justin, a daughter-in-law, Mary, grandsons Jay & Henry, and granddaughter Molly who make us proud each and every day.