FRANCONIA >> “I’m going to work hard and not let you down.”
That was new Franconia Township Police Department Chief Michael Martin’s promise shortly after being sworn in May 10 by District Judge Albert Augustine before a group including family members, the Franconia department’s officers and staff, police chiefs from neighboring towns and Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
“This appointment has truly been a humbling experience,” Martin said. “The honor of leading the Franconia Township Police Department is a responsibility which I do not take lightly. I promise that I will do my very best to ensure the safety and overall well-being of all who live, work, play, visit and worship in Franconia Township.”
Martin becomes the fourth chief in the history of the department, which was started in 1962, according to police department historical information on the township’s website.
The first was Kenneth Lear, followed by Paul Hunsberger in 1965 and Joseph Kozeniewski, who just retired. Kozeniewski joined the department in 1981 and became chief in 1997. Hunsberger and Kozeniewski were both on hand for Martin’s swearing in and each gave him a chief’s badge. Hunsberger also noted that when he started as chief in 1965, Martin was only 1 year old.
The township had 44 applicants for the chief’s job, most from southeastern Pennsylvania, but also ones from Colorado and Washington state, Township Manager Jon Hammer said.
Those 44 were then narrowed down to six, he said.
“As the interviews began, one candidate began to rise to the top of the pile,” Hammer said, “and that was Michael Martin.”
Martin has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from St. Joseph’s University, is a graduate of the FBI Academy, has taught criminal justice as an adjunct professor, and started as a patrol officer with the Upper Merion Police Department in 1987, rising through the ranks to lieutenant in charge of auxiliary services, patrol and investigations, Hammer said.
“Our first interview with Mike was a good one,” Hammer said.
Martin passed the first question, establishing that he was a Philadelphia sports fan, Hammer said.
“From there, it was easy to recognize that Mike was articulate, had a thorough understanding of law enforcement and clearly understands what it means to be a police chief,” he said.
Board Chairman Grey Godshall noted the department’s previous chiefs.
“We’ve had exemplary chiefs,” he said. “Tenure is long. People seem to like it here.”
Martin has big shoes to fill, Godshall said.
“We’re glad to have you here,” he said.
Board member David Fazio, speaking on behalf of the board, noted Franconia has consistently been ranked among the safest communities in Pennsylvania, has families that go back several generations in the municipality and strives to maintain quality of life.
“I think you will find Franconia a very warm and welcoming community,” Fazio told Martin. “You deserve this opportunity and we’re happy to have you in Franconia Township.”
“The police are the public and the public are the police,” Martin quoted Sir Robert Peel.
“That sentiment has never been more critical than in today’s society,” Martin said.
Courtesy, respect, integrity and honesty have to be the guiding principles for effective policing, he said.
The Franconia department has a solid foundation of officers who are skilled, competent, respectful and honorable, he said.
“I can promise you that as your police chief, I will always strive to be innovative, courageous, thoughtful, honest and most of all, humble,” Martin said. “I will bring the enthusiasm that I hope will both inspire and promote efficient, professional and courteous policing.”
He also thanked those in attendance for the warm welcome.
“I already feel like it’s a family,” Martin said.