WEST ROCKHILL — Pennridge Regional Police Department's new chief has a familiar name.

Paul T. Dickinson grew up in Perkasie, graduated from Pennridge High School, was a volunteer firefighter in Perkasie and has been a police officer in South Whitehall Township for 18 years, where he was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and lieutenant in 2018, Pennridge Regional Police Commission Chairman Jim Miller said at the April 28 commission meeting at which the hiring of Dickinson was officially approved.

He's also the son of Paul "Tim" Dickinson, who was Perkasie's police chief from 1992 until 2005 when he became Towamencin's police chief, retiring from that position the end of 2020.

The new chief is to be sworn in on April 30, then have a transition week with retiring Chief Rodney Blake the week of May 3, Miller said.

"We went through a long search and it all came down to you," Miller told Dickinson.

Dickinson's Pennridge Regional badge was presented to him by his father, who also gave him the "Chief Paul T. Dickinson" desk nameplate from his own time as Perkasie's and Towamencin's chief.

The new chief thanked his family for their support, along with thanking Blake and South Whitehall Chief Glen Dorney.

"To the board, again, thank you very much for the opportunity. I hope to make everybody proud," he said. 

He also addressed the Pennridge Regional officers. 

"I look forward to working with you, look forward to meeting you, and most importantly, I look forward to learning from you about the community and where we can be stronger in serving them," Dickinson said. 

Pennridge Regional Police Department serves East Rockhill and West Rockhill. The meeting, which included tributes to Blake, was held outdoors in West Rockhill's James Memorial Park to allow attendance by family members and friends under the COVID-19 guidelines. 

Blake's 33-year law enforcement career began in May of 1988 with what was then the West Rockhill Township Police Department, then continued with Pennridge Regional after it was formed in 1992. In 1996, he was promoted to sergeant. He was Pennridge Regional's officer in charge in 2002 and parts of 2014 and 2015, then was named chief in 2015.

He was involved in the hiring of all the current Pennridge Regional officers. 

Resolutions commending him for his service were given at the April West Rockhill and East Rockhill meetings.

Additional tributes from the United States House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Senate, Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Bucks County Commissioners were added at the April 28 commission meeting.

Most area residents take for granted that they live in a safe community, state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, said while presenting a citation.

"They don't think about the men and women who on a daily basis are patrolling our streets and who are," he said, "sometimes putting themselves in harm's way to keep our streets and our communities safe."

Pennridge Regional Police Sgt. Tim Maloney said Blake has an impressive professional resume, but that only tells part of the story.

"Rod Blake has provided us with an incredible example of what a true friend is," he said. 

"His emotional connection with everyone in this organization is second to none, and whether it was a phone call to an officer who just lost a loved one or a personal matter where an officer needed someone to talk to, Rod was always there," Maloney said.

"It is sometimes very difficult for the leader of an organization to be a friend also, but Rod was able to do it," he said. "He did it simply because he cared."

The integrity Blake displayed was second to none, Maloney said.

"He has come to work and given his all for 33 years and during that time period he has been a positive influence to so many, whether as a coach, a friend, a son, a brother, father or husband, he is the epitome of integrity," Maloney said.

Commission member Gary Volovnik noted Blake having come up through the ranks and said the department couldn't have asked for a better person to be its chief.

"We could always count on Rod any time we needed anything. He never let us down," Volovnik said.

In his comments, Blake thanked prior chiefs, the police commission, West Rockhill Township Manager Greg Lippincott and East Rockhill Township Manager Marianne Morano, and his family.

"I wanted to first thank the community for letting me serve them," Blake said. "They left me come into their lives. I celebrated their happiness, and, unfortunately, at times as police officers, we are there for their sorrows."

As chief, he was the face of the department, but his success came about because of the work done by the department's officers, he said. 

"It's because of them and their hard work day in and day out," Blake said.

"Like I said, it's a storybook ending to a great career," he concluded, "and I couldn't ask for anything more, so thank you."

Dickinson becomes Pennridge Regional's sixth chief, following William Heim, Ronald Smeal, Randall Dilling, David Mettin and Blake. 

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