After more than three decades protecting residents as part of the Falls Township Police Department, Lt. Nelson Whitney has no plans to stop anytime soon. In fact, he’s gearing up for the next big milestone in his career.
During a recent virtual meeting, the board of supervisors voted unanimously to appoint Whitney as acting police chief, effective Sept. 1, and police chief, effective Jan. 1, 2021.
He is replacing current chief William Wilcox, who is retiring from his longtime position at the end of the year. Once in-person meetings resume, the supervisors, who accepted Wilcox’s separation agreement during the May virtual board meeting, plan to honor him for his dedication to the township.
The supervisors collaborated with the Police Chiefs Association from Montgomery County in narrowing down a list of candidates. According to board chairman Jeff Dence, all three of the chiefs recommended Whitney, describing him as a “great addition.”
“We look forward to working with him,” Dence said.
Whitney’s police career in Falls Township began on Aug. 9, 1988, and he spent the first 10 years working as an officer and EMT. He became an investigator in the cold case homicide unit in 1998, detective in 1999 and detective corporal in 2002. In 2003, Whitney advanced yet again to detective sergeant and served as supervisor of the detective division, a position he also held for 10 years.
In 2013, Whitney was promoted to lieutenant, serving as the detective division commander for the next three years. He began his current role as lieutenant in 2016, serving as the patrol division commander.
Since earning the title of “lieutenant,” Whitney has instituted a number of initiatives. These include data-driven, proactive policing to help address community issues related to drug abuse and traffic crashes; and a training profile for new patrol officers, which emphasizes proactive patrol and increased training of patrol officers in responding to active shooter incidents.
Additionally, throughout his tenure, Whitney has served as an instructor for the Falls Township Police Department Youth Police Academy, Falls Township Police Department Citizens Police Academy, Bucks County Police Training Center and Network of Victim Assistance of Bucks County. He has received numerous awards and commendations, and is a lecturer at Bucks County Community College and the Pennsbury School District.
“It has been an honor serving the community of Falls Township as a police officer for the last 32 years,” Whitney said. “I look forward to the challenges of this new position and thank the board for their confidence in me. We have excellent officers in the Falls Township Police Department, and I am proud to serve with them.”
A second unanimous appointment took place during the meeting – Matthew Takita was approved to serve as township manager. Takita was hired as assistant township manager and director of building, planning and code enforcement in October 2019, and has been serving as interim township manager since February, following the departure of former manager Peter Gray. He will continue to serve as director of building, planning and code enforcement.
“He wanted to remain as the building code director. He’s done a great job. He led us through the COVID-19 situation. His leadership skills are great,” said Dence, adding that Takita helped the township save a lot of money. “We have two positions that are down to one position now.”
Previously, Takita served for 24 years as Bensalem Townhip’s director of building and planning, and authorized zoning regulations for a 675-acre revitalization district on the Delaware River.
Also during the meeting, the supervisors reviewed a sketch plan from Stalwart Equities for construction of 916,300 square feet of warehouse space and 60,000 square feet of office space on land along the Delaware River. The bulk of the property (84.664 acres) is at the former Solvay tract, while two other parcels totaling more than 11 acres comprise land on South Pennsylvania Avenue and a portion of the former Rogers foam tract on East Post Road.
According to Samuel Wachsman, president of Stalwart Equities, his industrial development company has undertaken multiple developments in central and northern New Jersey, and the Falls building would be mainly used for storage. It would not house hazardous materials or toxic chemicals.
The project would employ at least 500 locals, and generate $963,000 in real estate taxes to the Pennsbury School District, $41,000 in municipal taxes and $33,000 in annual local services taxes.
Until land development plans are submitted by Stalwart, the supervisors cannot vote on the project. Stalwart officials said they intend to file a preliminary application this fall.
Since traffic would be the biggest obstacle, developers have plans to widen South Pennsylvania Avenue to help accommodate traffic near the property, which is expected to host 700 vehicles daily.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org