York City Police Lt. Kevin Girling to become police chief of Mt. Joy.
York City Police Lt. Kevin Girling to become police chief of Mt. Joy.

When the City of York hired Kevin Girling in January 1985, the rookie police officer was barely an adult.

"I wasn't old enough to drink a beer when I started," he said. "I turned 21 while attending the police academy."

Twenty-nine years later, the York County native — who rose to the rank of lieutenant — said he never doubted his decision to be a law-enforcement officer.

"I love being a cop," Girling said, and has loved working in York City.

"There's always something happening here," he said. "Never a dull moment."

He said he expects the pace will be slower at his new job, but that new responsibilities and challenges will keep him just as busy.

Police chief: April 8 was Girling's first day as Mount Joy's new police chief. He was sworn in as chief the night of April 7, at Mount Joy's borough council meeting.

The Lancaster County borough has a population of about 7,850 people, according to the U.S. Census, which reports about 43,500 residents in York City.

"I'm happy that the slower pace will let me tackle problems ... with a multifaceted approach, rather than hopping from one 911 call to the next," he said. "The community seems to be connected with what's going on in the borough. I get a real sense there's serious community involvement."

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said the lieutenant will be missed.

"He's done a fantastic job for the city. ... We wish him luck," the chief said. "He has a lot of varied experience he's going to take with him to his new department, which I'm sure will serve him well."

York-area native: Girling grew up in Spring Garden Township and graduated from York Suburban Senior High School in 1981. He lives in West Manchester Township with wife Kathleen. The couple have a son and daughter, both adults.

Girling holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from York College and a master's degree in homeland security from American Military University, he said.

York City promoted him to sergeant in 1996, and to lieutenant in 2002.

Within the department, he has held supervisory positions in the detective and patrol bureaus, in community services and in training and administration.

Also during his time on the force, Girling has served as a firearms instructor, a field-training officer to newly hired cops, and volunteered on the York County Quick Response Team.

'Great group': Struggling to remain composed during a recent interview, Girling said he will most miss his fellow officers.

"It's a great group," he said.

He likened the job of York City police officers to workers trying to move rocks from a pile that inexplicably keeps growing.

"But these (officers) just keep digging into it," he said, despite the fact they generally are paid less than their suburban counterparts.

Girling said he believes revitalization efforts in York City are paying dividends.

"I'm always coming to the city when I'm off duty — see a show, have a good time, eat a meal, relax," he said. "There's a lot of cool stuff to do downtown."

Not ready: Girling, who turned 50 in January, said in the world of law enforcement there is an expectation of retiring at age 50, with at least 20 years on the job.

"Except you get there and realize ... 'I'm not ready to be retired,'" he said.

Girling's last day with York City Police was March 19.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.