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.
`I can’t say enough good things about him. He was a really good cop and a real decent man. He will be sorely missed,` said Corsi. `I wish him well.`
Cunningham said he is working with Corsi on finding both replacements and possible new officers. Corsi said he plans to promote officers from within the department to the rank of detective and that selections should be presented to the Town Board at its next meeting.
`The detective positions are critical because we’re pretty lean as it is,` Corsi said of his 42-officer force.
Corsi said although he is sad to see his detectives go and their experience will be a loss to the department, he wished them well and is confident his department will pick up where they left off.
`They were the best you could offer and officers of the highest caliber,` he said.
For updates on this story return to www.spotlightnews.com, or read the Wednesday, July 15, print edition of The Spotlight.