October 4, 2023

Pennsylvania Police Chief Awarded Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional

Photography by Howard Studios

Columbia Southern University (CSU) recently awarded student Matthew Bartal, police chief for North Annville Township in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, as the 2017 Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional of the Year.

The award was established as part of National Crime Prevention Month and to recognize CSU law enforcement students and graduates for their commitment to safety, professionalism and their accomplishments in the industry. News of the win was a mixed bag of surprise, humbleness, excitement and more for Bartal, who has worked in law enforcement for approximately 17 years.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected,” said a jubilant Bartal. “This award tops everything right now.”

Over the years, Bartal has worked for various law enforcement agencies near his beloved home county of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, including the Berks County Sheriff’s Department in Reading, the Laureldale Borough Police Department and the Cleona Borough Police Department, where he still holds a position as a police officer since joining in 2007.

“My inspiration to go into law enforcement was watching my uncle who served with the Lebanon Police Department for 13 years before he moved to Florida,” said Bartal. “I got to see him in action and it just seemed like that is what I wanted to do.”

Bartal worked with the North Annville Township and Cleona Borough in 2013 and early 2014 to craft a unique agreement that allows agencies to share resources and improve their call coverage. He describes it as “a cross-coverage, multi-jurisdictional” pact that allows North Annville and Cleona to cover calls for each other and share five officers. The agreement has been so successful that officials decided to renew with a three-year contract for the two small agencies.

“It’s rewarding to see we are making steps toward becoming a full agency to meet the needs of both communities,” said Bartal, who juggles both jobs as a police chief and patrolman.

Bartal also juggles a busy family life with his wife and children, serves as a track and wrestling coach for the area high school, participates with the local Civil Air Patrol Squadron and takes numerous law enforcement certification classes in addition to attending CSU.

A strong advocate for education, Bartal has earned his associate and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice with the online university and is currently seeking an online master’s degree in criminal justice.

“All experiences with CSU faculty have been very helpful and have motivated me to continue my criminal justice education through the open lines of communication and their encouragement for my success,” said Bartal.

His additional accomplishments include:

  • Community Service Award, Cleona Borough Police Department, 2011
  • Officer of the Year Award, Lebanon County Fraternal Order of Police, 2013
  • Police Officers Hall of Fame, Criminal Investigations, 2013
  • Top Cop Award, 2014