Growing up in Jenkintown, Steve Malone didn’t like dressing like his identical twin, Greg.
“Mom dressed us alike; it was horrible,” Steve recalled last week. “There was a point in grade school [Immaculate Conception] when I protested. It was bad enough people calling me the wrong name all the time.”
A couple years after graduating from Jenkintown High School, though, Steve chose to adopt the same uniform as Greg and spend the next 36 years working at the same place — the Cheltenham Township Police Department.
Starting as dispatchers in the radio room — Greg in 1973 and Steve in 1975 — while working part-time as police officers in Rockledge Borough, the two marked May 31 as their last day as Cheltenham police sergeants.
“We had an uncle who was a police officer in Jenkintown,” Steve said. “I really always wanted to do that.”
Both were in the first class of the Municipal Police Academy, initially established at Temple University Ambler, and moved from dispatch to become Cheltenham police officers in 1980. Eventually their paths within the department diverged.
“We were both on patrol for a while,” though never on the same squad, Steve said. “We both made corporal and patrol supervisor and then we kind of branched off.”
Steve started the community policing unit on the force in the mid-1990s, was promoted to sergeant in 2000 and in 2002 moved up to take charge of the detective unit, from which he is retiring.
Greg went from patrol to the highway safety unit tactical squad. After making corporal, he went back on patrol, supervising a squad, and when promoted to sergeant was put in charge of running the communications center and maintaining the police vehicles.
About seven years ago he became administrative staff sergeant of the division that works with the budget, “making sure we spend the money allocated [$9 million for the department] in a manner beneficial to the police department, the township and the taxpayers,” Greg said.
The brothers often went to lunch together and it was not unusual to see each other every day, but it wasn’t a given.
“My office is around the corner from his, but a lot of times we didn’t see each other,” Greg said. “The facets of my job have me doing other things [than Steve does].”
Outside of work, the two do have some common interests — both like fishing and NASCAR — but different ones as well.
“I’ve had season tickets to the Eagles for 32 years, but very rarely would [Greg] go to a game,” Steve said. “He can lounge on the beach all day; me a couple of hours. I like to play golf; he never picked up a golf club.”
“I’m a Ham radio operator; he has no interest in that,” Greg added.
The Malones also have two sisters and a younger brother, and both agreed that twins do have a special bond.
“You can tell when something’s not right,” Steve said. “It’s weird, but sometimes you just have a feeling.”
“You can’t explain it,” Greg said. “It’s just something that’s there, not all the time, just sometimes.”
They didn’t try to fool people with their identical looks much, though there was one instance at the station where they had a veteran desk sergeant fooled for more than an hour, Steve said.
“We didn’t have to try,” he said. “It was easy.”
Both view the end of their police careers with mixed feelings.
“We pretty much came on together; we’re definitely leaving together,” Steve said.
“It’s going to be strange,” he added. “I love coming to work every day. It’s something I really love to do and it will be hard walking away from it.
“I suppose there’s another life after Cheltenham … we’ll find out.”
“It’s another family,” Greg said. “You’re leaving a part of you behind. I’m going to miss a lot of people.”
Both plan to take the summer off before looking for something to do afterward, and while they won’t be seeing each other daily anymore, “we’ll go to lunch together, still,” Greg said.
Referring to a retirement party scheduled for last Saturday, Greg said, “The two people we’d want there the most won’t be there” — their father and Steve’s wife, who passed away within weeks of each other near the December holidays.
And in a seeming tribute to their professional and personal lives, he said, “We have to move on.”