The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

July 8, 2014

Good luck, Andy Havas | Longtime West Hills police chief has retired

JOHNSTOWN — Andy Havas has exchanged his shield for a fishing rod.

Searching for salmon with rod and reel is one of Havas’ passions. Now that the longtime chief of West Hills Regional Police has retired, he will have more time to pursue the sport.

Havas stepped aside at the end of this past month after a 45-year career as a police officer. He served as chief for 32 of those years.

“I’ve had a good career,” Havas told Tribune-Democrat reporter Patrick Buchnowski. “I have no qualms about leaving.”

Filling Havas’ shoes will be Michael Lose, who has been with the department since 1979.

Havas’ career was launched in 1970, when, at 21, he was hired by the Westmont Borough Police Department.

“Back then, you were hired as a police officer, a dispatcher and a fireman,” Havas said. He honestly confessed that he was not the best fireman.

Havas rose through the ranks, promoted to sergeant in 1978 and acting chief in 1981, He was appointed chief at the end of 1981.

Havas reminisced about how police work has changed in the 45 years that he has worn the uniform.

“When I first got hired, it was almost like a security job,” he said. “Our biggest problem was burglaries.”

Those somewhat tranquil times have taken a 180-degree turn. Now, Havas said, police also have to deal with escalating drug and alcohol problems along with sometimes explosive domestic issues.

“It’s more than just a job,” he said. “You’re committed to it 24 hours a day. It’s always with you.”

During his stellar career, Havas has dealt with many criminals. But one man, Jeffrey Scott Hoffman, stands out. Hoffman was a serial rapist who preyed on older women. Two of Hoffman’s victims – one in Westmont Borough, the other in Upper Yoder Township – were in Havas’ jurisdiction.

Havas’ department played a vital role in Hoffman’s capture.

Now Havas will have plenty of time to pursue his finned adversary. He also will have more time to carve out for his wife Cora and their two sons and daughter.

“I’m lucky enough to have my daughter and her family in Johnstown,” he said. “I’m close to my grandkids.”

We congratulate Havas on closing a memorable career, and we wish him health and happiness as he begins another chapter in his life.

 

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