Beyond the call of duty

Rotary Club of Bensalem names Robert Schwarting Police Officer of the Year

A special salute: Pictured are (from left) Bensalem Township council president Joseph Knowles, Rotary Club of Bensalem president Marc Cohen, Police Officer of the Year honoree Robert Schwarting, Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo and Bensalem Township Police Department director of public safety Fred Harran. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Since joining the Bensalem Township Police Department in April 2014, Officer Robert “Bob” Schwarting has amassed quite the number of notable achievements.

Not only was he recognized by the Citizens Crime Commission, Schwarting led the department in arrests for two consecutive years, and, in 2016, became a member of its elite K9 unit. With the help of his furry partner Bowie, Schwarting is responsible for ridding Bensalem streets of the highest number of guns and drugs.

While this ever-growing list of accomplishments is certainly impressive, it’s not why Schwarting’s wife, two young sons, colleagues and fellow community members convened on Tuesday, July 30, at Juniper Village’s all-new The 32 Club restaurant, 3200 Bensalem Blvd., to honor him.

It was because of his constant drive to go above and beyond his job duties, especially as a leader of the department’s Police Athletic League, that Schwarting was recognized by the Rotary Club of Bensalem as its Police Officer of the Year.

“It’s a great honor, especially for what I’m getting it for,” Schwarting said. “I take a lot of pride with the Police Athletic League and I think it’s a huge honor to be recognized not only for me, but just what we’re doing as a department.”

Schwarting was selected as Police Officer of the Year by a committee, which was comprised of Rotary members and Fred Harran, Bensalem Township Police Department’s director of public safety.

In order to get Schwarting to The 32 Club while keeping the award a surprise, he was told he’d be giving a speech on the Police Athletic League. Thankfully, unlike past honorees who stayed awake into the early morning hours crafting in-depth presentations that would never be needed, Schwarting had a few simple bullet points ready to go.

“When it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s easy to talk about,” he said.

Present at the lunch was Harran, who informed attendees about Schwarting’s deep involvement with the Police Athletic League. According to Harran, Bensalem’s PAL program is the only one in Bucks County, with approximately 1,100 local children enjoying football, basketball, hockey, bowling and arts and crafts throughout the year – all free of charge.

On a volunteer basis, Schwarting regularly leads efforts surrounding basketball, football and PAL participants with special needs.

Harran explained that Schwarting’s willingness to dedicate extra hours to the township, which often results in sacrificing quality time with his family, is one of the main reasons he was chosen as Police Officer of the Year.

“That’s not something that happens very often, but I’m glad and proud that in the police department, that happens. They work outside their contract,” Harran said. “It’s not that the officer necessarily has the best statistics or makes the most arrests or writes the most tickets, although Officer Schwarting certainly meets that category. It’s the one that goes with the Rotary motto ‘service above self,’ and that’s certainly Officer Schwarting.”

Harran shared how it’s proving more difficult to choose just one officer for the Rotary award, with the number of outstanding men and women growing each year.

“I’m glad to say it’s getting harder and harder,” he said. “But this is a guy that, I don’t know where he has time for all this. He is certainly one that is most deserving of the Officer of the Year for Rotary. Not for one minute did he ever let us down.”

Also in attendance was Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo and Bensalem Township council president Joseph Knowles, as well as representatives from the offices of state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo and Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, who both presented Schwarting with certificates of achievement.

Nick Diasio, Tomlinson’s community outreach specialist, praised Schwarting and the other officers at the lunch. A fourth-generation Bensalem resident, Diasio said he plans to continue the tradition and raise his future children in the area.

“It’s all because of the wonderful work that the Bensalem Township Police Department does. You are a beacon of leadership and dedication,” he said, adding a special thanks to Schwarting’s wife and sons. “Thank you for allowing us to have him.” ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com