Montgomery Township Supervisor Mike Fox said it best Monday night: There's a new sheriff in town.
It's a new chief, to be precise, and he's been a familiar face at Montgomery Township Police for 23 years.
Deputy Chief J. Scott Bendig has been named the new chief of the department effective October 1.
Bendig has spent his entire career as a police officer at Montgomery Township, hired in July 1989. Through the years, Bendig has been a canine handler, D.A.R.E. instructor and field training officer.
Bendig became corporeal in June 2000 and sergeant in June 2002. On Aug. 9, 2010, he was named deputy chief. Supervisors named him acting chief on July 23, 2012, in the absence of Chief Richard Brady, who has been on vacation in anticipation of his retirement on Sept. 30.
Bendig has a bachelor's in criminal justice from Temple University and a master's in criminal justice from West Chester University. He also attended the 216th session of the FBI National Academy in 2004.
"He brings a wealth of knowledge, management skills and abilities to the police department that will serve the police department well into the future," said township Manager Larry Gregan.
Bendig said Monday he now knows how Cal Ripken Jr. felt when he replaced Lou Gehrig for the most games played consecutively in baseball.
"I consider it an honor and privilege to be here tonight, chosen as the fourth chief of police in 74 years of our department's existence," Bendig said. "It's a great township. It's a great police department. I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead, leading from the front, taking us to our next level, continuing to elevate the reputation of this fine department."
Bendig called his 23 years "a long journey" that has been shared with many close to him.
"I have many people to thank. First and foremost, my wife and kids: Thank you for always being there and understanding when I couldn't be there," Bendig said. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm a driven person. I know it seems hard to believe."
There's a big joke in the Bendig house, which his wife, Florence, loves to bring up.
"Right before I got married, I applied for a canine position and I told my wife, 'The only thing I want is canine. That's all I want. I swear.' Obviously, things change — corporeal and then sergeant," he said.
"I'm done," he said, looking at his wife and invoking laughs from the audience. "I promise. No more. That's it. I'm done."
Bendig thanked his mom and dad and his family for "instilling the values, beliefs and work ethic that made this possible." He thanked Gregan and township supervisors for "bestowing your confidence in me."
"I can assure you," he told them, "I will not let you down."
Bendig's superior officers Brady, Lt. Gordon Simes (Ret.) and Lt. Mark Houghtaling (Ret.) received thanks for being his mentors over the years.
"Your words and actions have taught me well. Whether you believe me or not, I did listen to what you had to say," Bendig said.
The new chief thanked his social friends and law enforcement friends for being there for him and lending him an ear when he needed to talk to somebody.
Bendig said he has learned from all his co-workers and said he was fortunate to work alongside them for the past 23 years.
For a moment, his speech became sullen, as Bendig honored one officer who was his biggest influence — the late Ward Thomas, Bendig's training officer.
"(Thomas) taught me a lot and instilled in me those values that are very important," he said. "I think they propelled me in my career here."
Fox told the crowd of citizens and Bendig's peers that he was honored to vote for Bendig as chief.
"It's been great, over the last five years I've been here, to see a guy work as hard as you have to get the position. I'm just happy for you," Fox said. "I think you earned this position."
Fox said those in attendance for support was a tribute to how much people think Bendig deserves the job.
Fox said every time he talks to someone outside the township about the police force, he hears two things: Brady led a great police force and Bendig is the right person to follow him up, due to his qualifications.
"I really am proud and happy for you," Fox said.
Supervisor Joe Walsh hearkened to the night supervisors promoted him to deputy chief.
"There were refreshments over at the police district, and I remember the number of peers that came up to us and told us we made the right move," Walsh said. "You were the guy."
Walsh said Bendig's peers across the county think highly of him as an officer and individual.
"I talked to the district attorney and she told me we made the right call in terms of this promotion," Walsh said.
Walsh also thanked Florence for giving Bendig up.
"I know being the spouse of a police officer is not an easy thing," Walsh said.
"I would say that I'm not sure I was even born the last time there was a police chief," said Supervisor Jeff McDonnell.
Supervisor Robert Birch said the township has the best police force around.
"I'm honored to be a board member with the chief and moving forward," Birch said.
The position of chief is a management level, non-bargaining unit level position.
After the meeting, Bendig had a goal for the department's new era.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," he said. "Our organization has been well run ever since I've been there. I just want to continue the direction and do well."
The most important traits of the department, he said, are community involvement and community policing.
"It's really important to continue to be as active and involved in the community as much as possible," he said. "These are the people we represent. This is Montgomery Township. This is what Montgomery Township is — our citizens."