SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III retires effective immediately; new acting leader named

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III is retiring effective immediately, transit officials said Tuesday morning.

This announcement comes after calls for the chief’s resignation over the past year, at least one lawsuit and increasing violence reported by passengers and against SEPTA employees.

In recent years, serious crime has doubled while under Nestel’s leadership there have been staff shortages.

SEPTA media director Andrew Busch said there was no specific reason for this sudden resignation.

“There are a number of challenges that the transit police and SEPTA face. It wouldn’t really be a way to time something so that things like that don’t happen. said Bush.

Leslie Richards, SEPTA general manager and CEO, said Charles Lawson, a SEPTA police inspector, will serve as acting chief.

“The safety of customers and employees is a top priority for SEPTA and plans have been put in place to ensure the continuity of operations of the Transit Police Department during this transition,” Richards said. “We are also actively recruiting new officers for the SEPTA Transit Police Department.”

Lawson, 49, has been with the Transit Police for more than 28 years.

He started out as a patrol officer and for the last four years has served as the SEPTA Transit Police Inspector, the second highest position in the department.

Union officials for TWU Local 234 responded to the news, saying the announcement was unexpected but not surprised.

In 2021, the group unanimously voted “no confidence” in the leadership of the SEPTA Chief of Police.

Troy Parham, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Transit Police, said they had confidence in new acting boss Thomas Lawson.

“We are excited about the changes to come. We’re excited about the current and acting boss, we’ve all come through the ranks with him. He understands policing in our system; he understands what we’re going through,” Parham said.

Officials said a search for a permanent SEPTA police chief will begin immediately.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved. SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III retires effective immediately; new acting leader named

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