The Township Board of Commissioners created the Cheltenham Police Department in February 1903, with an authorized strength of one Police Chief and “not more than seven officers.” Duties included patrolling the small villages, large estates, and open countryside comprising the Township in those days.
Today, the Cheltenham Township Police Department is the third largest Police Department in Montgomery County, PA. The Department serves a population of approximately 37,000 residents and responded to over 30,000 calls for service in 2018 alone.
The 73-member Cheltenham Township Police Department responds to thousands of resident calls each year, maintains round-the-clock street patrols, investigates crimes and serious accidents, conducts traffic studies, maintains special situation units, offers safety education and crime prevention programs for community groups and much more.
The innovative character of the Police Department is as much in evidence today as in earlier times. Specialization of certain key functions is an example. The Department has 73 full time sworn officers, the third largest Police Department in Montgomery County. Included are: ACT teams, Canine Teams, Highway Safety Unit and Officers specially trained in Civil Affairs, Crisis Negotiation and a SWAT Team, each providing specialized support to police operations in dealing with problems of particular concern to the community.
Our Department has a fully staffed Detective Division, including a group of Detectives specially trained to deal with youthful victims and offenders. Our Community Policing Unit brings a wide variety of police and social services to residents in targeted areas of need. The Unit includes specially trained Crime Prevention Officers who instruct citizens in ways to avoid being victimized by crime.
A mobile mini station van and bicycle patrols are among the tools utilized by the Community Policing Unit to bring them into closer, more effective contact with citizens. It is through these Officers that most citizens have contact with the Police Department. The Community Policing Unit offers a variety of programs and services to our residents. Please check our Web site and Channel 42 / Verizon 1960 for information concerning upcoming special events offered by the Community Policing Unit.
While specialization is desirable in some areas, many of the most vital day to day police functions are performed by the regular uniformed Patrol Officers. Regardless of the hour of the day or night, these are the Officers who are often first on the scene of most emergencies, aiding victims of crime, accidents and medical emergencies; arresting fleeing criminals; performing preliminary investigations; and making reports involving a multitude of major and minor incidents. Our Patrol Officers are readily identifiable in their award winning uniforms and distinctively marked cruisers. Equipped with state of the art Mobile Data Terminal computers and communications equipment, our Officers provide a broad range of services, assistance and advice to the public, while helping create a general sense of order and well-being in the community.
The Officers and civilian employees working in our Administrative Services Division, provide a host of support services, not the least of which are: managing the record keeping function, and providing secretarial assistance. In addition, an Animal Control Officers are assigned to the Administrative Services Division, along with 22 School Crossing Guards and a civilian Parking Enforcement Officer.
The fourth Division in the Police Department is the Professional Standards Division. This Division is responsible for up dating and developing Department Directives, all departmental training, and internal investigations. The Professional Standards Division also maintains the Department's Accreditation status though the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, or PLEAC. The Cheltenham Township Police Department has been PLEAC Accredited since 2012.
In addition to our sworn Police Officers, the Police Department is assisted by an important group of civilian volunteers who comprise our Auxiliary Police Unit. These men and women assist at the scenes of serious accidents, fires, other emergencies and special events, volunteering hundreds of hours of crowd and traffic control service each year.
In addition to our Auxiliary volunteers, the Police Department is always looking for residents to assist the Department in maintaining community security through volunteer Town Watch assistance. Town Watch members conduct mobile patrols of their neighborhoods alert for suspicious activity, functioning as additional trained “eyes and ears” for the Police Department.
During the Police Department’s first century of service to Cheltenham Township, faces have changed; police vehicles, uniforms, equipment and electronic technology have evolved into the present modern, well trained and equipped police force which, today, is so familiar and accessible to Township residents and business persons. However, the basic nature of the police mission remains unchanged: unfailing service, twenty four hours a day, every day of the year, protecting the lives, property and rights of all citizens within the Police Department’s jurisdiction.