Law Enforcement Legacies

Law Enforcement

While countless law enforcement professionals are either just starting or are in the midst of their careers, there comes a time when others have to say goodbye to their colleagues in blue.

Several stories made the news this week of law enforcement professionals retiring after serving in lengthy careers, leaving behind a long list of successes and valuable lessons for those just entering the force.

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A Police Chief

Sixty-three year old John Scholly’s last day of his over 40-year law enforcement career was May 31. The Times Herald’s Thomas Celona reported that Scholly (whose most recent position was 10 years as police chief for the Lower Gwynedd Township in Pennsylvania) didn’t want to retire but knew it was time.

“When he joined the force, police reports were typed up on manual typewriters, there were no police radios, there wasn’t even a police academy for him to attend,” wrote Celona in his June 6th article for The Times Herald. “But throughout his 40-year career in law enforcement, one thing never changed: that excitement of never knowing what would happen next.”

In 1970, Scholly started as a civilian dispatcher for the Cheltenham police department. Three years later, he trained at the newly-formed Old York Road Police Academy, and gradually rose up the ranks from patrolman to the Cheltenham PD’s police chief in 2001. Scholly compared Cheltenham to the “Wild West” where he saw everything one could imagine from a law enforcement perspective. He retired in 2003, but this didn’t last long–he chose to assume the role of chief in the much smaller Lower Gwynedd department, which he ended up loving. He admired how the officers interacted with the community, from helping stranded drivers change a tire to helping families search for a lost pet.

Paul Kenney is Scholly’s successor as police chief. “He’s been a wonderful leader, just a true gentleman,” he said as reported by Celona. “He’s been an excellent role model to me and a mentor, a good friend. We’re going to miss him.”

A Forensic Investigator

A Berks County (Pennsylvania) forensic evidence investigator, David B. Wright, recently retired after 42 years in law enforcement. He started as a patrol officer in 1971, according to Reading Eagle’s reporter Holly Herman. In 1980, Wright became an evidence technician. “Chief County Detective Michael J. Gombar said Wright’s devotion, dedication and hard work set an example for others to follow,” wrote Herman in her June 7th article for the Reading Eagle. “‘His relentless forensic ability to lift fingerprints at a crime scene was second to none,’ Gombar said. ‘There is no doubt we will miss him, and I wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Other highlights of Wright’s career include serving as an expert witness in “high-profile cases,” working the notorious REDRUM murder case of 1987 and teaching forensic courses to law enforcement personnel. Wright says he was able to persevere through his 42-year career—sometimes clouded by “nightmarish” scenes—because of the amazing people he worked with.

Imagine yourself 40 years from now…Whether you work in law enforcement, another area of the criminal justice system or in a completely different career, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?