A former police officer and current professor said his experience on the job and in the classroom sets him apart from the three other candidates running for the Manchester Township district judge seat.

Steven Ruffatto Sr., 43, teaches criminal justice at Harrisburg Area Community College where he is a professor and is also an adjunct professor at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County, the online University of Phoenix and Boston University.

A lot of what Ruffatto teaches his students, including courses on evidence and police procedures, transfers to what a district judge encounters daily, Ruffatto said.

Ruffatto is running for the seat once held by Alan Naylor. Naylor retired in 2011, leaving the office vacant with senior judges filling in on the bench since then.

Police work: Ruffatto got his start in civil service just after high school when he joined the U.S. Army, obtaining the rank of specialist. He also served in the U.S. Air National Guard and obtained the rank of sergeant.

"I've been in public service since graduating from high school," he said.

In 1990, Ruffatto got his started his 20 years in law enforcement when he joined the U.S. Capitol Police Department in Washington, D.C.

After four years with the department, he joined the Prince George's County Police Department where he served in a number of roles, including as the officer in charge of background investigations of all public safety personnel employed by the Maryland county.

Judge: Ruffatto said a "one-size-fits-all" approach to criminal justice is ineffective and, if elected, he would take a more common sense approach to delivering justice. He added that while it's important to be tough on criminals, "he believes that each case must be viewed individually."

Ruffatto earned a degree in criminal justice from the University of Maryland in 2005 and a masters of criminal justice from Boston University in 2008.

In his free time, he serves on the board of directors of Peace Officer Ministries, a Christian law enforcement chaplaincy ministry, and is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Prince George's County Police Retirement Association and the American Criminal Justice Association.

He lives in Manchester Township with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children, Callie, 11, and Steven Jr., 9.

Ruffatto is crossfiled as a Democrat and a Republican, meaning members of both parties can vote for him in the primary.

Also on the ballot for Manchester Township district judge are Angela Dobrinoff-Blake, Jeffrey Oberdorf and Donald Dull Jr., who are all crossfiled.

-- Reach Greg Gross at