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Howard has skills, heart to be police chief

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Today is a historical day for Lancaster Police Department as its first female police chief takes the reins from retiring Police Chief Hugh White.
Lancaster City Council voted unanimously Dec. 28 to appoint Harlean Howard as the Lancaster Police Department’s next chief.
She succeeds White, who has been with the department since 1982 and was chief for the past 11 years.
Howard is no newcomer to law enforcement. She got her start with the Philadelphia Police Department in 1978 and worked there until 1989.
She moved to Lancaster and joined the city’s police department in 1990. Initially, she worked as an undercover drug officer, interacting directly with narcotics dealers in some of the city’s most drug-infested areas.
She moved through the ranks, assuming more responsibility with each role. After working undercover as a drug buyer, she became the foot patrol officer for the Downtown Business District. She also worked as a school Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) officer and did community policing  in the city’s Eastside area.
She started out as a private first class, moved to corporal, sergeant, first lieutenant and has held the rank of captain since 2003.
She has been the training officer for the department and is the primary grant writer for the agency. She is also the department’s evidence custodian, computer network administrator and public information officer.
Howard’s accomplishments were not lost on city officials, including Mayor Joe Shaw. Shaw said he wanted the next chief to be an experienced officer with strong communication skills. Howard fit the bill.
“She came up through the ranks and she knows police (work) in and out,” Shaw said. “She’s a great communicator and very dedicated to the safety of our community.”
Howard was humbled by the unanimous vote.
“I feel grateful and honored that the entire council has seen something in me that has given them the belief that I am the right person,” she said.
Howard said she will place a strong emphasis on community-oriented policing. She said law enforcement and the community must work together to improve the city.
“I’m excited about making the goal of teamwork a priority with the department and to let citizens in Lancaster know we are real people,” she said.
“I’ve always felt a strong love for this area. That love grew even more when I moved here. I have a very earnest and strong desire to do all that I can do to improve the quality of life for all citizens.”
We commend City Council for choosing Howard. She definitely has paid her dues and earned the right to be our next police chief. She has the experience to do the job and the compassion to do it right.
We thank Hugh White for his service and wish him well in his retirement. And we congratulate Howard. We also thank her and her staff for their service in protecting the residents of our city.