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Latrobe police chief Jim Bumar signs off for the last time

September 27, 2018
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Latrobe Police Chief James Bumar (left), salutes officer in charge Sargent Joe Angus, after signing off for the last time and handing over his badge and gun, inside his former office at the municipal building in Latrobe, on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. Bumar served with the Latrobe Police Department for 34.5 years, and was chief for 8.5 years. “I left here as a better person, with more compassion, than I came here with.”

First, James Bumar removed his badge. Then, he unholstered his firearm and handed it to Sgt. Joe Angus, who sat behind the desk Bumar had long occupied inside the Latrobe Police Department.

He then removed his vest, fumbling as he unpinned the stars fastened at shoulders--the stars signifying his rank as chief.

“Jim, you’ve earned these,” Angus said after saluting his former boss, placing the pins in Bumar’s palm. “They’re yours.”

Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Bumar signed off for the last time just before 2:30 p.m. Friday.

“All District 4 units and all first responders: Thank you for your courage, dedication and for always having my back,” Bumar said over the radio. “May God keep you always safe.”

Bumar, 56, of Unity, served with the department for 34 years, including more than eight as chief.

Angus now is the officer in charge until the city hires a replacement.

“He’s always been fair in his temperament, his faith in God,” said Angus, who has been with the department for 28 years. “He was good to us over the last nine years. Retirement well deserved.”

Bumar was like family, Community Relations Officer Beth Straka said. The 13-person department works together day in and day out, spending more time with each other than their own families, she said.

“He was the one who took a chance and hired me,” Straka said. “I’m going to miss him.”

Bumar counts implementing a K-9 unit and shaping the Greater Latrobe School District school resource officer program among his biggest accomplishments as chief.

“I think I left here a better person than I came in,” he said.

Bumar completed a master’s degree in criminology at Saint Vincent College in August. He will be teaching at Saint Vincent in January, college spokesperson Suzanne English confirmed Friday.

Bumar said that he looks forward to bringing on-the-job experience into the classroom.

“We need to adapt,” he said. “And I think we need educators out there that have not only been through the academic part of it, but the street experience, too.”

In his three decades on the job, Bumar said he’s seen the opioid epidemic evolve and worsen. In the future, he hopes law enforcement will focus more on education and prevention.

He also hopes to see more schools expand their school resource officer programs to give officers the space to be a positive presence in schools--working in educational or support capacities, for example--rather than only jumping into action when something goes wrong, he said.

Bumar encouraged his successor to “do your personal best for your community.”

“It’s a tough time to be a police officer,” Bumar said. “You have to wear many hats. But always be ethical, honest.”

A formal public sendoff will take place at the Sept. 10 city council meeting. Council is working with the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association to screen applicants for the post.

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