Old Lycoming police chief gets top state honor for victim services

Only 4 percent of women who fall victim and perish to domestic violence seek the assistance from organizations such as the Williamsport YWCA, according to Susan Mathias, co-director of the agency’s Wise Options program.

Police officers like Chief William C. Solomon and his department at Old Lycoming Township hope to change that.

Since last October, Old Lycoming Township police and the YWCA have been using a lethality assessment program that officers use at domestic violence calls to determine if a woman is in danger of being killed by their partner.

Through a series of research-based questions posed to victims, the program is designed for law enforcement, clergy, health care workers and others to help lower the risk of domestic violence deaths and to link women to agencies like the YWCA that can provide support.

At least four women already have been assisted in the township by the program, said Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt, who presented Solomon with the award.

For his efforts – and those of his department – Solomon was nominated by the YWCA’s Northcental PA Wise Options and awarded the Governor’s Victim Service Pathfinder Award by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

A presentation was made Tuesday at the Lycoming County Department of Public Safety among a number of law enforcement and elected officials and Solomon’s family.

Solomon, who began his career with the Old Lycoming Township Police Department in 1984 and was named chief in 2007, was nominated for his leadership in implementing the program.

“The award is based on Chief Solomon’s personal history of outstanding service in meeting the needs of victims in collaboration with local victim service programs,” his nomination states. “Chief Solomon also exceeds in the other criteria: a spirit of empowerment reflected in an enthusiasm toward his work meeting the needs of victims, creativity and innovation in providing services to victims and his impact at the local level.”

The award is the highest that the state gives to a victim service professional or program.

Solomon said he was humbled to receive the award and gave thanks to others such as Lycoming County Judge Joy Reynolds McCoy, his officers, the YWCA, Mathias and Linhardt for their work and support of the program.

He also thanked his wife, mother-in-law and children who were present for the event.

“Everybody in this room has inspired me in one way or another,” he said. “This award belongs to everybody in this room.”

Solomon also was presented with citations from the state Senate and House from Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, and Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, respectively.

Yaw credited the chief for his devotion to duty and for upholding the safety and welfare of the citizens he serves.

“You really deserve this,” he told Solomon.

Mirabito said that Solomon’s leadership extends beyond victim advocacy.

“He serves as a role model to all who aspire to a career in law enforcement,” he said.

The lethality assessment program is expected to be rolled out later this year by the Williamsport Bureau of Police and The Tiadaghton Regional Police, Mathias said.