``I think eventually we may get there,'' March said. ``Then, we'll truly have a system.''
Chester County District Attorney Anthony Sarcione yesterday named the high-ranking state police officer to replace Charles Zagorskie, who retired last month after 23 years as chief.
Sarcione expects March, 53, to assume the post in late August. Sarcione refused to disclose how much he will pay March to oversee the 17 detectives who make up the only unionized workforce within county government. March's predecessor earned $79,442 annually, plus benefits.
Sarcione would not say how many applicants he considered for the job. He did say he granted interviews to six candidates. He said he selected March because of his broad experience in law enforcement and his Chester County roots.
In his 30th year with the state police, March is eligible for a state pension, he said. His salary with the state is $91,700, he said.
March began his career with the state police in 1969 as a patrol officer, he said. A native of Chester County, he and his wife bought their Coatesville home two years later.
Over the next three decades, March worked his way up the ranks of the state police. By 1973, he was a criminal investigator based in Embreeville. It was there he first got to know Zagorskie and Sarcione. Zagorskie spent 18 years with the state police. March was among the officers to investigate the yet-unsolved 1976 homicide of Sarcione's brother, Alexander.
In 1986, March was named director of the Bureau of Training and Education in Hershey, where he established the Special Emergency Response Team, a statewide team of tactical officers and negotiators with several dozen officers on both sides of the state.
In 1990, March was assigned the directorship of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations in Harrisburg. Two years later, he was named the emergency operations officer, responsible for response to natural disasters, nuclear accidents and crises at state correctional institutions.
Three years ago, Gov. Ridge named March deputy police commissioner for staff, one of three deputies under Police Commissioner Paul J. Evanko in Harrisburg. In that role, March oversaw five bureaus: emergency and special operations, research and development, technology services, records and identification, and staff services.
Until Sarcione approached him about the job opening several weeks ago, March planned to stay with the state police until he was mandatorily retired in six years, he said. The chance to keep working in his home county was an offer he could not refuse, he said.
``He's a very well-respected law enforcement officer, and in a lot of ways, he's coming home,'' said West Goshen Police Chief Michael Carroll, president of the Chester County Police Chiefs Association. Carroll has known March for two decades.
``I'm just glad we have him back in the county,'' said Peggy Gusz, director of the Crime Victims' Center of Chester County. ``He's one of the best investigators I've ever seen.''
Gusz, who also has known March since the 1970s, said he handles investigations with compassion and calmness.
``He doesn't lose sight of the personal side. I mean, nothing's just a criminal case with him,'' she said.
March said he expects to make most of the $43,000-contract that the Chester County commissioners awarded Zagorskie to work as a consultant until Dec. 31. The contract has proven controversial because Zagorskie will be paid regardless of the amount of time he puts into the job.
``I expect to be in close contact with him - not only during the contract, but beyond it,'' March said.
``My approach would be to come in and observe [the department] first-hand and see what is working and what is not working. Change, I would say, is guaranteed.''