SOUTH PYMATUNING TOWNSHIP – South Pymatuning Township has completed the first major milestone in re-establishing its police department.

On Wednesday, the township supervisors hired Paul Smith, of Beaver Falls, to take over as the department’s new police chief.

“He has shown great leadership already,” township supervisor Rose Lyons said. “We’re starting over fresh and think he’s the right person to get the department up and running.”

South Pymatuning suspended its police department Feb. 13 and turned its law enforcement duties over to the state police. The department is on schedule to be back up and running by its June 1 goal.

“That’s all in the rear view mirror now,” Smith said. “It’s time to move forward in a professional direction.”

Smith was an officer in Baden Borough for five years before serving as a state constable in Beaver Falls for 14 years. His police career started as an officer for the Baltimore Police Department in 1982.

“I used to go (to the South Pymatuning area) on camping excursions when I was a child,” Smith said. “I think the area is beautiful, and when I found out a chief position was available, I decided to go for it.”

The next step for the township is to hire new police officers. Lyons said she isn’t sure exactly how many new officers will be hired, but the township plans to allow Smith to spearhead the hiring process, which begins next week.

Smith said he isn’t in a hurry to hire right away, and is willing to take his time to find the right candidates for the job.

In one word, the chief said his ideal officer must be “professional.”

“It’s very important (for officers) to act and look professional,” he said. “Once you have that kind of individual, everything else falls back into place.”

The township is hosting a “meet and greet” with the new chief from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the fire hall.

“I’m looking forward to a chance to meet the people and have a good, working relationship,” he said.