Blake Lynch, who formerly worked as director of development at the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg, will start his new role with the city on March 26. The city’s 2018 budget calls for a $48,000 salary for the civilian position.
Harrisburg has not employed a full-time community policing coordinator since David Botero vacated the position last year. During budget talks at the end of 2017, police officials said that filling the position would be top priority with the new year. Harrisburg Director of Communications Joyce Davis said that the city received 160 applications for the position.
As the community policing coordinator, Lynch will serve as a liaison between the bureau and the Harrisburg community. This entails representing the police department at neighborhood meetings, schools and community events, as well as advising officers on community issues.
“He has excellent communication skills, and I think he’ll be a great asset to the city,” Papenfuse said.
Lynch has worked for Harrisburg once before, having served as a programs administrator under former Mayor Linda Thompson from 2011 to 2012. He hopes that his professional network and knowledge of the city, as well as his experience working with youth, will be assets in his new role.
“This job allows me to work with various partners and people I’m friends with and have worked with before,” Lynch said. “I’m very passionate about our community and ensuring that our next generation is better than the one before it.”
Lynch said that his primary goal as community policing coordinator is to continue building trust between Harrisburg police officers and residents. Doing that, he said, will require patience and a “long term approach.”
“The first thing I want to do is listen to a lot of different people,” he said. “We have to find out what things are really affecting them in their neighborhoods.”
Lynch also said he’s brushing up on his Spanish skills. He doesn’t speak the language fluently, but knows that learning it will be “vital” to working with Harrisburg’s Spanish-speaking population.
Lynch grew up in Steelton, graduated from Susquehanna Township schools and attended Messiah College. He currently lives with his family in Middletown. He spends his spare time volunteering with the Harrisburg Rotary Club and Harrisburg Young Professionals, and he and his wife also serve as relief house parents for the Milton Hershey School.