Knox hires county's first female police chief

Knox Borough Mayor Rich Cochran administers the oath office to new police chief Nicole L. Bauer during the June 7 meeting of borough council. Bauer will become the first female police chief in Clarion County effective June 21.

KNOX - Knox Borough Council Monday night (June 7) hired Nicole Bauer as the borough's next police chief, making Bauer Clarion County's first female chief of police.

Bauer's rise to police chief from patrol officer is effective June 21.

Bauer told the CLARION NEWS she is aware of her place in county history, but added she "really hasn't thought about it that much."

The mother of two daughters, Bauer said her oldest daughter is aware her mom is a police chief but her younger daughter "just thinks it's cool her mom is a police officer."

Bauer said she hopes as her daughters get older, they will see their mother's accomplishment and realize how important it is.

Bauer, 32, has worked in law enforcement since 2010 when she was hired as a Clarion County deputy by sheriff Rex Munsee.

Bauer said she had never really considered a career in law enforcement until then.

She worked part-time as a deputy sheriff for Clarion and Butler counties before attending the state municipal police academy.

Bauer was hired by Knox Borough in July 2020. At the time, she was employed by the Armstrong County Sheriff's Department and the Manor Township (Armstrong County) Police Department.

She also has worked as a patrol officer in New Bethlehem and Clarion boroughs. She rose to the rank of sergeant with the New Bethlehem police department.

"It's very satisfying and rewarding to have support of a borough council like Knox," said Bauer. "(Former police chief Jason Bowen) did an outstanding job with developing community relations and I want to keep that going."

As a related move, Knox Borough Council agreed to advertise for a patrol officer to replace Bauer.

"I want to help find a new patrol officer," said Bauer. "Then we can both get comfortable with our roles here."

Bauer said she hopes to continue her earlier work with Keystone School District students.

"I've met with the Girl Scouts and we talked about a number of issues, including online safety," explained Bauer. "But we get settled in, I'd like to do more programs with adolescent girls."

Bauer called the Knox Borough community very welcoming.

"I was born and raised in the New Bethlehem area, it's a small town community, too," said Bauer. "When I got into law enforcement, I knew I wanted to work to police a small community like this."

Bauer said she has enjoyed getting to know the people and businesses in the community and enjoys the almost daily visitors at the police station.

"We have people just stop by," said Bauer. "I feel like I've been here for years."

Bauer replaces Jason Bowen who submitted his resignation in May. He is taking a job in Allegheny County.

Bauer said she enjoyed working with Bowen.

"I'm excited for the future of the Knox Borough Police Department," said Bauer. "I really want to thank this council for offering me this chance to fill this role."

Borough council president Jack Bish Jr. said Bauer has essentially been doing the job as police chief for the past two weeks as Bowen used up his remaining vacation days.

One of Bauer's first tasks as she filled in was less than what people might find exciting law enforcement work.

Bauer said she recently completed re-certifying all of the parking meters in the borough. Each meter was tested to ensure it was providing the proper amount of time for the amount of money inserted.

The re-certification of the meters must be done every five years.

Bauer lives in Shippenville with her husband and two daughters. Council set her starting hourly wage as police chief at $19 per hour.

During the June 7 council meeting, the panel first had to agree to offer the job to Bauer, who accepted the job with a nod of her head.

Council then agreed to hire Bauer as police chief and to advertise the patrol officer position as vacant and to seek applicants for the job.

Council hopes to fill the vacant patrol position at next month's meeting. Qualified people are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible.

All of the decisions were by a unanimous 6-0 vote.

Council member Carl Salser tendered his resignation from council by letter immediately at the start of the council meeting. No reason for the resignation was given.

Council also agreed to seek letters of interest from any borough resident interested in serving on council. Anyone interested in serving the remainder of Salser's term should contact the borough office at 814-797-1376.