With dozens of friends and family members watching in anticipation on May 2, Phillip Holbrook was promoted from Fairview Township Police Sergeant to the department’s highest rank, Chief.
Sworn in by Luzerne County Judge Richard Hughes, Holbrook looked serious as he took the oath of office with his right hand raised and his left on a Bible held by his wife, Sophia. His children, Cassi and Coit, proudly looked on.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have him as chief,” stated Township Supervisor Robert Orloski. “He’s served this community beyond belief and beyond what’s expected.”
Holbrook replaces longtime Chief Joseph Intelicato, who retired after 44 years in law enforcement. Before he left the police department, Intelicato praised Holbrook, relating that he has never once let the force down, always responding immediately to duty, no matter the time or circumstance.
Growing up in Mountaintop, Holbrook at an early age became a volunteer fireman and rescue worker. Enjoying helping and protecting the community, he naturally gravitated toward law enforcement, aspiring to be a policeman since childhood.
After attending the police academy, Holbrook began working as a part-time officer for Fairview Township in 1988, and joined the force full-time in 1991. Four years later, he was promoted to Detective Sergeant. In the leadership role, he spent 26 years being responsible for handling all criminal investigations.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” Holbrook stated of being a policeman. “I enjoy the public service part of it. A great part of the job is being able to make a difference and help people.”
Of challenges that come with the job, he went on, “The difficult part is dealing with some people, the small percentage that are against the police.”
As Intelicato did, Holbrook stressed that Fairview Township is safe because of its excellent police force. With a population of about 5,000, the township has six full-time and two part-time officers.
“You could put our guys up against any other department around,” Holbrook said. The Fairview officers being well-trained is a big part of their success, he added. “Everything is changing, the world is changing. You have to have a well-prepared police department. We have great guys and girls to do that, to keep up with the times.”
With the population of Mountaintop dramatically increased since Holbrook joined the force in 1988, Fairview Police have a lot more traffic and crime to deal with. The types of crimes are different too, he said.
“In the ’80’s, we never dealt with computer crimes or credit-card fraud,” Holbrook noted. “As technology changes, we have to keep up with the times, and we do.”
Holbrook is vice president of the Pennsylvania Narcotics Officers Association, a large organization that provides narcotics training to federal, state, and local officers.
In 2006, Holbrook had the honor of graduating from the FBI National Academy. Only about 200 law enforcers from all over the country are accepted to the academy each year, enduring taxing physical challenges and studying diligently under the most prominent federal agents in the country.
Fairview Police handle about 250 calls each month and the frequency and types of calls vary. “Some days we have three calls and other days we have 30,” the new chief explained. “It runs the gamut, from traffic citations and auto accidents to drug arrests or DUI’s. Luckily, we don’t have a whole lot of major crime.”
Drug crimes or burglaries happen in Fairview Township about every other month, or even less often than that. “We get everything the big cities