Lower Southampton Board of Supervisors officially hired Robert Hoopes as public safety director, a position that will put him at the helm of the township’s emergency services.
Board Chairman Patrick Irving said the board considers Hoopes to be the “perfect candidate,” given his experience, qualifications and roots in Lower Southampton.
Hoopes, 69, was born and raised in Lower Southampton. After high school, he spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a sergeant in the Vietnam War. He is a 20-year veteran of the Lower Southampton Police Department, and retired to become an attorney after graduating from Widener University Law School in 1988. He continued to practice law for 25 years.
“He comes to us with a large amount of leadership experience,” Supervisor Joseph McFadden said. “We know we’re getting into interesting new territory with a public safety director. We want to do it right. We want to do it proper for the residents of our township.”
Hoopes’ hiring comes after the retirement of Police Chief William Wiegman, who held that position for over a decade. Following the lead of nearby municipalities like Bensalem and Bristol townships, the board decided to hire a public safety director instead of appointing a new police chief.
In this new position, Hoopes will oversee the police department, fire companies, ambulance and other emergency services in the township. According to Hoopes, he will make decisions in tandem with the board of supervisors and Township Manager John McMenamin.
“Once I take time and investigate the police department, the fire company, I’m sure there will be some changes, but those changes will have to be approved by the board of supervisors and the township manager,” he said.
Hoopes said his longtime absence from law enforcement will not affect his ability to lead emergency service workers or make decisions in the best interests of residents.
“I do know police work because I did it for 20 years,” he said. “Couple that with the fact that I’m a lawyer, my education and experience will be a great benefit for the residents of Lower Southampton to make it a safer, nicer place to live.”
“I feel honored,” he added.
The appointment was unanimously approved, and all five supervisors expressed that the move to public safety director will benefit the township.
“We’re trending in the right direction,” Irving said. “I really, truly believe that.”