Veteran law-enforcer returns to county roots

Sheriff selects Caln Township resident as chief deputy

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn "Bunny" Welsh (left) announces her selection of George P. March as chief deputy sheriff.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh (left) announces her selection of George P. March as chief deputy sheriff, filling a position that has been vacant since January.

For the new Chester County chief deputy sheriff, the position, which was announced Wednesday, represents a repeat homecoming of sorts.

Although George P. March, a West Chester native, never left his Chester County residence, commuting at various times to Lancaster, Philadelphia, even Harrisburg, he said he felt as if he were returning home when he took the job as Chester County’s chief detective in 1998.

Prior to that, March had worked his way up the ranks of the Pennsylvania State Police. He began as patrol officer with the state police in 1969. By 1973, March was a criminal investigator based in Embreeville, an experience that helped him forge strong connections with Chester County law enforcement.

In 1986, March was selected  to head the Law Enforcement Arts section within the Bureau of Training and Education, and by 1990, he was promoted  to lead the Bureau of Criminal Investigations in Harrisburg, . In 1995, Gov. Ridge named March one of three deputy police commissioners, a position he held until Chester County Court Judge Anthony A. Sarcione, then serving as the county’s district attorney, lured March back to head the detectives’ office.

Highly regarded for his skills in fostering multi-agency cooperation, March generated disappointment when he accepted another offer less than a year later from the Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS), a nationwide law enforcement and justice intelligence and support program of the U.S., which is where Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh orchestrated the second homecoming.

March said he had worked for the past 14 years as the chief information officer for RISS, which is composed of six law enforcement and justice Intelligence Centers serving local, state, and federal agencies within the U.S., its territories and parts of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.  A youthful 69, March said he ran into Welsh, whom he’s known for years, at the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference in Charlotte, N.C. a few months ago.

He said Welsh asked him if he had any recommendations for filling her chief deputy’s position, which had been vacant since James O. Moyer passed away in January. March said he had known Moyer since he was the police chief in Parkesburg, understood the respect he commanded, and would see if he could make some suggestions. He said he also told Welsh that if she needed to get in touch with him, she should use his home number since he was about to retire. Several conversations and meetings later, Welsh said she was thrilled when she was able to persuade March to change his mind.

“George March will bring a great depth and breadth of law enforcement experience and leadership to the Sheriff’s Office,” she said. “He is highly respected by law enforcement agencies here in Chester County and throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

“I am honored to serve every day with the very finest deputies and civilians here in the Sheriff’s Office,” added Welsh.  “Selecting George March as second in command reflects the high standards the citizens of Chester County expect and deserve in the Office of the Sheriff. George is a man of great integrity and character. We share core beliefs and values and have a vision of excellence for the Sheriff’s Office.”

District Attorney Tom Hogan applauded the choice.  “George had an outstanding law enforcement career with the Pennsylvania State Police and maintained contacts with the county when he was in the private sector,” said Hogan.  “The District Attorney’s Office welcomes George to the Justice Center.”

For his part, March said he is looking forward to his new job, which will begin next month.  “I would not have considered taking it if I didn’t think that the leader was a real professional with integrity,” March said, adding that he greatly admires her passion for the job.  He said he has “a lot to learn about the Sheriff’s Office” but feels strongly about the pivotal role it plays in law enforcement.

March, a backpacking aficionado who resides in Caln Township, said his previous position involved conducting seminars and training throughout the country with local, state, and federal agencies. As a result, the opportunity to stay in Chester County is also attractive for family reasons, he said. Having a local base will enable him to spend more time with his wife, Genevieve, with whom he just celebrated 47 years of marriage; his daughter, a state trooper; and other relatives.

Then there’s also a slight, lingering guilt factor, March acknowledged. “I never got over the feeling that I’d abandoned the county,” he said of his previous departure. “I hope to make up for that.”



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