In September of 1965, due to activism from Bethlehem Township residents, a municipal police department was formed. At that time a retired Pennsylvania State Police Corporal, John E. Uditis, was hired as the department’s first Chief of Police. It was the responsibility of Chief Uditis to hire and train one full time officer and five part time officers. The Department officially began serving the public on January 1, 1966 providing part time policing for the Township’s 14.7 square mile area and its approximate population of 7,000 residents.
Chief Uditis worked the day shift, Monday through Friday, from 7am until 3pm. Ronald L. Clause was hired as the department’s first full time Patrolman, working from 3pm until 11pm. He was also on call from his residence for emergency situations during the nighttime hours. Saturdays and Sundays were covered by part time officers.
Ronald Clause began his service with Bethlehem Township Police Department on January 1, 1966 as the department’s first full time Patrolman. In 1973 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, briefly served as the Chief of Police from 1976-1977, and retired in the spring of 2000 after 34 years of active duty.
In 1970 Bethlehem Township Police began 24-hour patrols of the Township with its full and part time staff. At that time there were five full time officers who were supplemented by numerous part time and special police officers. By 1993, all the part time and special police had been abolished and the department is now fully staffed with professionally trained full time officers.
In 1977 Joseph K. Barner was appointed as Chief of Police and served our community for 25 years until retiring in 1999 after his election to the office of Magisterial District Judge for our area.
Chief Barner was replaced as Chief of Police by Daniel G. Pancoast in December 1999. Chief Pancoast has served more than 30 years with the department in the capacity of a Patrol Officer, Motorcycle Officer, Firearms Instructor, Corporal and Sergeant. He supervises a department staffed with 32 full time officers, one civilian administrative employee, and two civilian school crossing guards which serve a residential population of over 20,000. The Department consists of the Chief of Police, one Captain, three Sergeants, three Corporals, two Criminal Investigators and 23 Patrol Officers.
Special services provided by the Department include a K-9 program, Police Motorcycle Unit, Motor Carrier Safety Unit, D.A.R.E./Community Police Programs, Every 15 Minutes Program, School Resource Officers, a Citizens Police Academy and the Regional Sobriety Checkpoint program. The Bethlehem Township Police Department received its official certification of accreditation from the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission in 2013.