Falls Township Police Officer John Yeager works tirelessly to create an open line of communication with area youth.
“I want kids to know that police care,” said John, a 33-year veteran of the force. “I am trying to do as much as I can for the community and to be in a position to influence our kids.”
He spearheads community policing efforts in Falls, including drug awareness and prevention programs in local schools.
John also started the Falls Township Youth Police Academy four years ago, runs the Citizen Police Academy for adults and is involved in the township’s Community Town Watch.
“He does so much for the community,” said Edward J. Crohe III, commander of Levittown Memorial American Legion Post 960. “He has started so many programs. He just tries to excel and do better.”
To honor the lawman’s commitment to the community, Crohe, on behalf of Post 960, awarded Yeager an “Officer of the Year” award during the Falls Township supervisors meeting in December.
“(John is) the true meaning of patriotism,” Ed said. “He is one of the true heroes.”
Coincidentally, John has incorporated the word “hero” into one of his newest prevention initiatives. He runs Program H.E.R.O. in area schools. The acronym stands for “Honest Education Respect Optimism.”
During the program, John brings in speakers to talk about the consequences of their prior poor choices with area students. The presentations are staged at Pennsbury High School, Valley Day School and Village Park Academy in Falls, Bucks County Technical High School and Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in Bristol Township, Morrisville High School and the Center for Student Learning Charter School at Pennsbury in Tullytown.
The program has also brought in grieving mothers to talk with students about their children dying from drug overdoses.
“It is our hope that these talks will inspire the students to avoid making similar choices,” John said.
The officer also recently worked with Falls and Lower Makefield police officers to create the “Standing Together Educators Police Students” program to replace the long-running DARE program in Pennsbury schools.
The S.T.E.P.S. program includes prevention lessons and instruction about opioids, depression and suicide.
John’s efforts extend into the summer during the structured and disciplined 10-day Youth Police Academy. Run by area lawmen, the academy is for area high school students interested in law enforcement or the military.
Academy activities are documented at https://www.facebook.com/FallsTownshipYouthPoliceAcademy/.
John credits Falls police Chief William Wilcox with allowing him “to run with” the ideas he comes up with for his community policing efforts.
Wilcox, who describes John as “tireless” and “innovative,” said the recognition is well-deserved.
“He is a dedicated human being to everybody,” Wilcox said. “We are lucky to have him here in this community.”
In addition to the local award, Post 960 plans to nominate John for national recognition of his accomplishments, Crohe said.
“I feel humbled, overwhelmed and I feel there are many more cops deserving of this than I do,” John said. “This is truly an honor.”
PHOTO CAP: Officer John Yeager (left) with Ed Crohe III. Photo courtesy Falls Township.