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Crisis manager: Harvey’s experience, certifications prepare him for many scenarios
Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey celebrated eight years at the helm of the police department back in February.
And what many do not know is that Harvey, a highly trained and accomplished chief, is the go-to man when a crisis hits the area.
Throughout his first eight years in Ephrata, Harvey’s expertise has been called upon through a wide array of situations, from the recent sinkhole, to the floods several years ago, and other high profile events. In each situation, the chief has been able to draw on not only his vast training but also lifetime and field experience.
“I draw from my past experience in Savannah, Ga., on the County Team (hurricanes, haz-mat, flooding, tornados, large events), Lebanon (snow emergencies, planned events and flooding) and here in Ephrata with planned events (the Fair),” noted Chief Harvey. “With this prior real world experience, it is sound procedure to capitalize on experience of staffers to gain what I call the 50,000-foot view. It is easy to focus on the event in front of you but you must get a larger view and how the footprint or ramifications of the event goes beyond a city block. The little nuggets of learning from past events and how to apply them to the current situation. Emergency management can be the ultimate chess match but it is not a game, people’s lives and communities are a stake and you never forget that.”
A native Virginian from the County of Appomattox, Harvey has a bachelor of arts degree in criminology from St. Leo University and is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute of the University of Louisville (103rd AOC). He served in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps completing his enlistment as a sergeant in the 24th Military Police Co., Ft. Stewart, Ga., and is a life member of the Military Police Regimental Association.
Harvey served for over 22 years with the Savannah, Ga., police department with assignments in field operations, investigations and support services, and completed his career as the director of training.
He then served as police chief for the Lebanon City Police Department from 2002 to 2009. In February 2009, he was appointed the chief of police for the Ephrata Police Department.
Additionally, he also serves as the borough’s emergency management coordinator. He serves as the chairman of the criminal justice committee of the South-Central Pennsylvania Joint Terrorism Task Force and a member of the All Hazards Incident Management Team for the region.
Harvey is on the advisory board of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ileeta.org) and has published hundreds of articles in professional related periodicals and lectured nationwide on law enforcement subject matters.
In order to serve on so many levels, Harvey has completed countless levels of training at both the state and federal level over the past ten years. He explained the Pennsylvania Emergency Management (PEMA) has a multi-tiered certification systems with two tracts. The Municipal Tract is recommended for the local emergency manager and support staff. It requires completion of 11 basic courses, ten advanced courses and seven professional level courses.
Following that, Harvey went on to complete PEMA’s County Tract of training, which included 13 basic level, nine advanced and eight professional level courses.
Completion of PEMA’s County Tract of training is recommended for County EMA leadership. Harvey pointed out that some of the courses from one track fill in other tracts. Increasingly, this training is often needed beyond the local level.
“For the county side, I serve on the Emergency Operations Center team where I am cleared to fill in as needed on two desks (public safety and public information),” Harvey said.
In this capacity, he recently worked the local visit by President Donald Trump. He has also been asked to train other local managers and assist other communities with their planned events.
For the regional side, he is a member of the South-Central PA Task Force’s Incident Management Team (IMT) in their public safety and public information groups.
“We offer support to the eight-county region on emergency support of both natural occurring and planned events,” Harvey said. “My favorite was the Gettysburg 150th (anniversary) support.”
Harvey also explained that to be a member of the IMT he had to complete additional training and mentoring prior to deployment.
Not only has Harvey devoted a considerable amount of time training to earn state-wide credentials, he has also earned federal credentials.
“I possess Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA credentials),” said Harvey. “I was awarded the Advanced Professional status in disaster operations skills, which required completion of five core courses and six electives. All of these had some time/tenure requirements. While some of these were on-line courses, most were classroom courses and the amount of time to achieve all was about ten years.”
Harvey explained why it is important for police command to be well-versed in all areas of crises management and communication.
“Emergency management is more than a one-time response but a continuous circle of four stages: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation,” Harvey said. “You have to be balanced in all four elements. The other thing is that you are trained, not to look at a situation with police eyes in my case, but the eyes of an overall incident commander or manager.”
Harvey said you have to grasp public works, understand fire and haz-mat, know how unified command works and understand the paper trails of each. Then understand how each of these impact the recovery (new normal) and how could this be prevented or lessened.
Yet, regardless of the variety of situations, Harvey was asked how he is able to achieve such a blend of emotions.
“When you get into this area of expertise, your formative years are focusing on the event, but as you progress you learn to see the larger scale of an event and the ‘big picture,’” Harvey said. “As you become more experienced and know the probabilities/possibilities you tend to settle in with a different type of calm.”
In addition to his work for the Ephrata Police Department, Harvey has been a free-lance writer for 20 years. He says that writing and teaching are a few of his passions. One of his recent articles can be found at: officer.com/article/12283322/have-snew-unit-experience
For additional information on the Ephrata Police Department, visit their website via the Ephrata Borough website at ephrataboro.org. Gary P. Klinger is in his second decade covering Ephrata Borough and welcoming your feedback and questions via email at email@example.com.