Ligonier police chief to take Somerset position
After 14 years as head of Ligonier Borough's police department, Chief Randy Cox is leaving town next month.
Somerset Borough Council voted Monday to offer its chief position to Cox, who first came to Ligonier's department in 1981 and then returned in 1989 after a five-year hiatus.
He will take over a department with six full-time officers and 12 part-time officers, compared to the three full-timers and six part-timers he commands in Ligonier.
"It had a lot to do with considering one's future -- considering the challenges," Cox said of the move to a larger town. "I'm the type of person that the more challenge there is, the better job I do."
Despite the new opportunities, Cox said he'll miss Ligonier.
"The community has always treated me well," the chief said. "They've always been incredibly kind."
Although Cox refused to take personal credit for any accomplishments, he said that much has changed during his time as Ligonier's police chief.
The department has grown as crime increased over the past decade, and police now provide the borough with 24-hour-a-day coverage.
Cox also helped the department keep up with technological advances, expand services into nearby Laurel Mountain Borough and adopt its first policy and procedure manual.
"The community's losing an excellent police chief," borough Secretary-Treasurer Jack Berger said. "I, personally, am sorry to see him go. Quite frankly, his shoes are going to be very hard to fill."
Cox has no such worries.
"I'm sure council will move quickly to find my successor," he said. "In a year or so, he or she will make his own imprint."
Cox said the new chief will have an excellent supporting staff.
"I'm going to miss my officers," he said. "A lot of times we lose sight of what highly talented people we have here."
Berger also gave Cox credit for helping improve the other officers on the force.
"Part of the reason it's so great is because of him," he said. "Hopefully, if we get someone half as good as him, it will still be great."
Cox hasn't yet decided exactly when he will leave Ligonier, but he said he'll probably begin working in Somerset sometime in July.
He's already begun mapping out that department's future.
In Ligonier, Cox recently began the process of getting the department accredited, and he plans to do the same thing in Somerset.
He said the process involves analyzing every one of the department's policies and procedures and then searching for proof that officers comply with them.
"It definitely brings an increase of professionalism," Cox said.
The drive for accreditation is one of the things that stood out about Cox, said Somerset Borough Manager Benedict Vinzani.
"I'm very impressed with Chief Cox's credentials, and I'm certainly looking forward to having him on my staff," he said. "His management style will fit perfectly with our department."
While Cox's salary has not yet been negotiated, Vinzani said Somerset's previous chief made $48,300 a year. He was scheduled to earn $41,700 in Ligonier this year.
The higher salary and larger force will bring more administrative duties, Cox said. To his pleasure, Cox said he'll still have a chance to patrol the streets.
"Deep down, I became a cop because I like being a cop," he said. "I like working in a small town. I like knowing people with whom I'm dealing."