Flana­gan takes the reins of the Rad­nor Po­lice Depart­ment

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Stein lstein@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @lstein­re­porter on Twit­ter

RAD­NOR » About 200 peo­ple, in­clud­ing many mem­bers of area law en­force­ment agen­cies, fire­fight­ers and emer­gency med­i­cal per­son­nel, packed the meet­ing room and gave Christo­pher Flana­gan a stand­ing ova­tion as he was sworn-in to be su­per­in­ten­dent of the Rad­nor Po­lice Depart­ment on Mon­day.

While Flana­gan’s par­ents and other fam­ily mem­bers looked on, he was flanked by his proud wife, Judy, and sons, Pearce, 19, and Colin, 17, at the front of the room and about to take the oath, when retiring Su­per­in­ten­dent Wil­liam Co­larulo called up a sur­prise guest, Of­fi­cer Mark Stiansen. It was the first time that Stiansen, who suf­fered a se­vere heart at­tack in Feb­ru­ary, had been back to the town­ship build­ing, and the two men em­braced.

“That was the high­light for me, to see him back,” said Flana­gan later. “It was an ex­tra-spe­cial sur­prise.”

Flana­gan said that he had trained Stiansen and many of­fi­cers kept a vigil at the hos­pi­tal while Stiansen clung to life.

Flana­gan, 49, worked his way up through the ranks af­ter start­ing as a pa­trol­man with the depart­ment in 1998. Be­fore that, he be­gan his ca­reer as a fire­fighter with the Bryn Mawr Fire Co., and he still vol­un­teers with the Lower Me­rion Fire Co. and with Nar­berth Am­bu­lance.

Over the last 20 years, Flana­gan has spear­headed sev­eral pro­grams in the depart­ment, in­clud­ing K-9 dogs trained to sniff bombs, the mo­tor­cy­cle unit, the po­lice chap­lain pro­gram, an im­proved Town Watch and the Cit­i­zens Po­lice Academy, and he also brought an in­ter­a­gency ap­proach to big events such as the Vil­lanova Univer­sity bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onships and the pa­pal visit, said Co­larulo.

Flana­gan, a Lower Me­rion res­i­dent, at­tended the Mont­gomery County Po­lice Academy and has taken ad­di­tional train­ing, in­clud­ing for deal­ing with ac­tive shoot­ers and the North­west­ern Univer­sity Staff and Com­mand Course.

“It is with great honor and priv­i­lege,” Co­larulo said, to put Flana­gan’s name for­ward to be su­per­in­ten­dent of the 43-per­son po­lice depart­ment, say­ing that he was very proud of Flana­gan. Co­larulo will re­tire May 26.

The board of com­mis­sion­ers voted 6-0, with Vice Pres­i­dent Luke Clark ab­sent, to ap­point Flana­gan as the new su­per­in­ten­dent. He will be paid at a rate of $159,000 a year for the first six months, $163,000 for the sec­ond six months and $167,000 per year af­ter serv­ing one year.

In an in­ter­view prior to the com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing, Flana­gan said that solv­ing a re­cent hit-and-run that took a man’s life on Lan­caster Av­enue was one of the most com­plex cases the depart­ment has solved. That de­fen­dant even­tu­ally turned him­self in af­ter the ve­hi­cle was tracked through sur­veil­lance cam­eras as it headed west on Lan­caster Av­enue that night.

An­other memorable case was a 2006 stab­bing at Cabrini Univer­sity where a vic­tim was se­verely in­jured.

“We were able to catch the per­son on site and elim­i­nate any more dan­ger­ous ac­tions,” said Flana­gan. “We were able to peace­fully make an ar­rest. It was a great ex­am­ple of team work.”

As for the six-per­son mo­tor­cy­cle unit, one of its most ex­cit­ing du­ties was es­cort­ing then-Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, said Flana­gan.

Asked about his goals for the depart­ment, Flana­gan said, “We’re in a great spot now.” But he wants to en­sure his of­fi­cers have the lat­est train­ing, in­clud­ing in how to de-es­ca­late sit­u­a­tions, and equip­ment and that they “keep abreast of cur­rent events.”

“In to­day’s chal­leng­ing po­lice world, you have to make sure your peo­ple are well trained,” said Flana­gan. They have to be “knowl­edge­able to be able to do their jobs.” He also wants to keep the com­mu­nity in­formed “as much as pos­si­ble.” An­other goal “is to set the ex­cel­lent po­lice of­fi­cers here up to be the fu­ture lead­ers of the depart­ment,” he said.

Af­ter he was sworn in, Flana­gan said that he was “hum­bled to stand be­fore ev­ery­one here.” He thanked his par­ents and said that even as a child, he had “a pas­sion for emer­gency ser­vice” that first led him into fire­fight­ing, emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice and then po­lice work. He also thanked his wife and sons for sup­port­ing him dur­ing all the shift work over the years, and he thanked his fel­low of­fi­cers for their “amaz­ing ser­vice.”

“You all risk their lives ev­ery day,” said Flana­gan and asked the au­di­ence to ap­plaud them. He promised to work to keep them pre­pared and to make sure they have the best equip­ment and also told them to “watch each other’s backs,” both on call and oth­er­wise.

“We will work arm-and-arm to pro­tect ev­ery res­i­dent and vis­i­tor in this town­ship,” said Flana­gan. He promised to “make sure ev­ery po­lice of­fi­cer and pub­lic safety of­fi­cial comes home safe. This I pledge as your chief.”

He thanked the com­mis­sion­ers, gtown­ship Man­ager Robert Zienkowski and Co­larulo, as well as his fam­ily for their sup­port.

Dur­ing the in­ter­view, Flana­gan said his fa­vorite tele­vi­sion show is, of course, “Emer­gency.” When he is not work­ing or vol­un­teer­ing as a fire­fighter or with the Nar­berth EMS, he helps his sons with their Ea­gle Scout projects. The older son, Pearce, who is now study­ing nurs­ing at La Salle Univer­sity, is al­ready an Ea­gle Scout, and Colin will soon com­plete that task.

Asked if it’s true about cops’ propen­sity to eat dough­nuts, Flana­gan said, “I can’t con­firm or deny.”

“We get a lot of gifts here,” he said. “One of the best things about Rad­nor is our re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity. Peo­ple are of­ten drop­ping food off be­cause they know of­fi­cers are work­ing on hol­i­days.”

LINDA STEIN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

New Rad­nor Po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Christo­pher Flana­gan is sworn in with his wife, Judy, hold­ing the Bi­ble and sons Pearce and Colin look­ing on. Retiring Su­per­in­ten­dent Wil­liam Co­larulo holds a mi­cro­phone.

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