Calling it "my proudest moment," Capt. Carl Scalzo took the reins of the Easton Wednesday.
Scalzo -- who has essentially been the department's second-in-command since last summer -- takes over for Chief Larry Palmer, who to run Palmer Township's police force.
"This is a bittersweet day," Mayor Sal Panto said Wednesday at a news conference to announce Scalzo's appointment. City Council is expected to vote on the appointment March 14.
Scalzo, 41, is a second generation Easton cop. His father, Carl Sr., served as a captain in the 1970s.
Scalzo the son told reporters Wednesday that he was "truly humbled" by the city's decision to name him chief.
"I will do everything to make sure the decision to put me in this position was the right one," Scalzo said.
He said he plans to follow Palmer's style of leadership, which means allowing the staff members under him to share their ideas.
"The vision of the department isn't going to change," Scalzo said.
He said a priority will be getting a third accreditation from the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, something only a handful of departments in the state have done. The Easton police were previously accredited in 2007 and 2010.
Palmer added that he wants to do the same thing with the Palmer Township force by 2014 at the latest.
He'll take over for retiring Chief Bruce Fretz on April 1.
Palmer officially retired in 2010, but remained with the department under something called the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), which allowed him to keep working. Under DROP, Palmer would have had to leave Easton by the end of this year.
He said Wednesday he wasn't ready to stop working, and offered his thanks to city employees.
"They've made me grow as a man, and a manager," said Palmer, who's been with the city since 1989.
Panto said there was never any thought given to hiring from outside the department. It would lower morale on the force, he said, if the city didn't promote from within.
He noted that former Mayor Phil Mitman had hired from outside the department, only to eventually reinstate Palmer six years ago.
Panto credited Palmer for helping improve the department's reputation.
"The good news is, we're grooming chiefs for other departments," Panto said, referring to Palmer and to Wilson Police Chief Steven Parkansky, a former Easton lieutenant.
Scalzo's promotion means promotions for two other top level department members. Lt. Scott Casterline, who heads the city's criminal investigation's division, will become a captain, while Inspector Matthew Gerould will be promoted to lieutenant.
Scalzo joined the force in 1999, and is believed to be the second youngest chief in the city's history. Palmer, who was 36 when he became chief, would be the youngest.
Prior to his time in Easton, Scalzo worked as a Northampton County deputy sheriff and a patrol officer for Baltimore County. An Easton native and a 1988 graduate of Notre Dame High School, Scalzo lives in Palmer Township.