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Porco investigator and Bethlehem SRO retire from the force

The Town Board has officially recognized the retirements of two senior detectives on the Bethlehem Police Department.

Detective Bruce Oliver, a former DARE officer and school resource officer for Bethlehem Central, and detective Christopher Bowdish, an investigator known best for his work on the infamous murder trial of Christopher Porco, have both stepped down.

Supervisor Jack Cunningham said during the Wednesday, July 8, Town Board meeting that Oliver has moved to North Carolina and Bowdish has taken another job. He said both men were already done working but will be officially retired on July 30.

Cunningham said his own children knew Oliver as Officer Oliver when he was their DARE officer in school.

"Both have been with the town for many years," said Cunningham. "We just want wish them both well in their retirement."

Bowdish became a Bethlehem police officer 28 years ago in 1981 and was promoted to detective in 1994, according to Police Chief Louis Corsi.

"He had a propensity for forensics to the point where he really excelled and was often called on to teach at the academy," Corsi said of Bowdish. "Chris was a very dedicated individual and we were better with him."

The chief told The Spotlight that Bowdish imparted many of his techniques and investigative knowledge to his colleagues.

"He was an asset to the detective's office and to the department," said Corsi.

Oliver, who was hired onto the force in 1986 and promoted to juvenile detective in 1997, will be missed, too, according to Corsi.

"He was one of the original school resource officers with now retired detective [Vincent] Rinaldi," he said. "It was an extremely controversial move at the time but because of a lot of forward thinking people it is now an asset to our community."

Corsi said Oliver's presence at the Bethlehem schools was that of mentor and friend to the students, which was a new concept when it began.

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