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Fitzgerald Takes Oath as Police Chief

Fitzgerald Takes Oath as Police Chief
Joel F. Fitzgerald, Sr. was sworn-in this morning as Allentown’s Chief of Police.

Fitzgerald was selected from a group of four finalists that had been narrowed from a list of more than 50 original applicants.

Fitzgerald comes to Allentown from Missouri City, Texas where he became chief in April 2009. Mayor Ed Pawlowski formally nominated Fitzgerald last month and he was then confirmed by city council.

“I was impressed by Joel from the moment I met him and the more I see him in action, the more I talk to him, the more impressed I become,” Pawlowski said. “I have received the same reaction from many of the people who attended a public forum for the four finalists at Sacred Heart Hospital. He brings a wealth of experience to the job. He has implemented Community Oriented Policing and Intelligence Led Policing that I believe is needed in Allentown. We have been making advances in these areas, but I believe that Joel is ready to take us to the next level.”

“This is an exciting time for me,” Fitzgerald said. “I welcome the opportunity to be the Chief of Police in Allentown. I have a chance to work alongside Mayor Pawlowski and the proud men and women of this great department to affect life or work in the city and how the department is perceived by the public. I see Allentown as a city that is moving in the right direction, and a police department that is young, ready and eager to help. I am proud to be here.”

Fitzgerald began his police career as a uniformed patrolman in the Philadelphia Police Department’s 19th District in 1992. He was awarded District Officer of the Year honors shortly thereafter.

In 1998, Fitzgerald was promoted to sergeant in the 14th Patrol District where he led a platoon and served as Tactical/Narcotics Enforcement Team Supervisor. There he attended community meetings and developed plans to combat burglaries and robberies.

Fitzgerald joined the department’s Narcotics Strike Force in 2000. Over the next nine years as a sergeant and later as Commander/Lieutenant and Commanding Officer, Fitzgerald led a Narcotics Strike Force, Narcotics Field Unit and the department’s Intensive Drug Investigating Division. The IDID targeted and prosecuted upper-level narcotics distributors and violent felons and dismantled drug trafficking organizations. While in the Narcotics Strike Force, Fitzgerald created deployment strategies to reduce crime and provided a uniform presence in areas experiencing open-air drug markets.

Fitzgerald holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Northcentral University in Prescott, Arizona.

Fitzgerald is a graduate of the FBI National Academy LEEDS program. He is FBI Certified in Community Policing.

The city advertised the available police chief’s position in July. Chief Roger MacLean retired in September. He and interim Chief Joe Hanna, who retires today, are among a group of senior officers who participated in a one-time Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP enhancement for veteran officers that was included in the police contract that took effect in January 2009. Officers in the DROP program are required to retire this month.
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