Ferguson Township has a newly sworn Chief of Police, who started Friday, June 30. Chief Chris Albright,
a 25-year veteran of the Ferguson Township Police Department, was officially sworn in by Centre County Court of Common Please Judge Katie Oliver on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Chief Albright was named to the position at the June 19, 2017 meeting of the Board of Supervisors. He succeeds retired Chief Diane Conrad.
Albright, who had been serving as Sergeant Albright, second in command of the Department, was selected from among 30 qualified candidates. He completed interviews with the staff, municipal managers, a hiring consultant, and people in the community. “It was a good process,” he says.
Ferguson Township Manager Dave Pribulka said that Chief Albright “was at the top of a long and competitive list. He has earned the support and respect of his peers and fellow officers, and his passion and commitment to the profession of law enforcement is second to none."
A lifelong resident of the Township, Chief Albright grew up just outside of Pine Grove Mills and now lives in his family’s Gatesburg homestead – on a farm his grandparents had owned. He and his wife, Mary – who was raised in State College — are “parents” to a 10-month old German Shepherd named Maddie.
When his appointment was announced at the Supervisors meeting, the new Chief had a speech
prepared. But he choked up a bit when he began to speak, realizing he was about to become Chief of Police in a community he has served all his life. “I chose the right path,” he says. “Being a police officer in my hometown is rewarding because I have friends and family in this area, and am personally invested in what happens in our community.”
As an officer who performed traffic detail, bike patrol, and responded to all kinds of calls, Chief Albright said his first instinct is to treat people the way he would want to be treated. When he stops a driver for a traffic violation, for example, “I’m not here to give you a hard time,” he says. “I’m here to make sure you are driving safely.”
An officer responding to a crisis situation needs to keep his or her “training, policy and leadership” top of mind to react appropriately. “That’s not to say we aren’t human and don’t feel upset, but talking to people and listening is the best way to help an agitated person calm down,” he adds — a lesson he learned as a hostage negotiator. “It is very draining but rewarding to talk someone through a crisis. We aim to get people the help they need before a situation escalates.”
The FTPD’s calls for service cover a wide spectrum of police work. “Helping people trying to find answers to their problems, or putting them in touch with someone who can help, is what we do every day,” Chief Albright says. Officers work in partnership with the Women’s Resource Center to help victims of domestic violence, as well as mental health agencies in the community.
Ferguson Township Police officers are also called to help with residential household challenges: a snake in the house, a flooded basement, bears and other wild animals on the residents’ properties. Chief Albright, who had pet snakes as a child, says helping to safely remove a harmless snake from a house was one of his favorite calls.
Chief Albright says he’ll be out in the community, essentially providing the services the community is looking for. He’ll be seen in uniform and in a suit. “I’ll be making sure our officers are visible and are listening to the needs of the community.”
“Chief Conrad has done a great job,” he says of his predecessor, including leading the initiative to earn accreditation for the department. Chief Albright says his first action item in his new position is to sit down with the Board of Supervisors and with each of the staff to discuss what can be improved. “We’ll be giving our staff opportunities to advance, listening to the needs of the community, and modernizing.” For example, officers will be wearing body cameras – “not because we worry about situations going wrong, but to keep us accountable,” he says.
A graduate of State College Area High School, Chief Albright earned a degree from Penn State and a Master of Science degree in Security Management from Bellevue University. His many roles in the Ferguson Township Police Department included field training officer and member of the tactical response team. He also managed the department’s vehicle fleet, handled internal investigations, and conducted background checks for new hires.
Meet Chief Albright at Ferguson Township’s Coffee & Conversation, 8 – 9:30 am Friday, July 21, at The Naked Egg Café, 320 Pine Grove Mills.