Steven LeCompte in as new Northampton police chief

by Joan Hellyer

One of the busiest police departments in Bucks County has a new leader at the helm.

Steven LeCompte, a 60-year-old veteran lawman, became the Northampton Township’s sixth police chief in January. He succeeds Michael Clark, who retired in December 2019.

LeCompte oversees a department of 44 officers, six full-time and five part-time civilian staff members and 17 crossing guards. The township’s police force has a $7.8 million budget for 2020 after handling 21,000 incidents in 2019, LeCompte said.

“Our mission is to provide professional police service and protection through leadership and partnership with our community,” he said.  “A police officer’s primary goal should always be to protect life. We maintain order in our society through enforcement of laws and deterrence. Police need public support to adequately perform their duties, so it is important for us to demonstrate to the public that we are using our authority appropriately.”

LeCompte, who has been a Northampton officer for more than 30 years, said he learned some very valuable lessons from Clark and his successor, retired police Chief Barry Pilla, as he was climbing the supervisory ladder in the department.

“They taught me to consider being chief a privilege,” said the married father-of-three grown children. “Most people never have the privilege of being chief of police. A  lot of respect goes with the position. You don’t want to take it lightly.  I don’t take anything for granted,”  

LeCompte said he’s still “in the honeymoon stage” as he settles into his new post. In the months ahead he plans to look into expanding the department’s school resource officer program with the Council Rock School District, meet with residents and build stronger relationships within the community, implement a wellness and fitness challenge for the department’s officers and “recognize the officers’ exceptional work more.”

The chief will earn a starting annual salary of $135,000, Northampton Township Manager Robert Pellegrino said.

LeCompte began his law enforcement career much like many other officers.

“I wanted to become a police officer to help people, ” he said. “I also liked working outside and meeting different people.”

The veteran lawman originally planned to work toward being a sergeant or detective, but once he reached that level he kept climbing the ranks in the department.

“Chief LeCompte was groomed for the position during the tenure of Chief Clark,” Pellegrino said. “It was always anticipated that he would replace Chief Clark when he retired.”

LeCompte, a Pennsbury graduate, began his law enforcement career in 1983 when he joined the Bristol Borough police force. 

He served in the borough for six years before joining the Northampton Township Police Department in 1989. LeCompte worked for 12 years as a patrolman before being promoted to sergeant in 2001.  

In addition to his primary duties on the Northampton force, LeCompte also served as a member of Bucks County’s South Central Emergency Response Team (SERT) for 10 years, including five as a team leader.

LeCompte was promoted to lieutenant in 2014 and was responsible for Northampton’s department operations, research and development, policy implementation, SERT coordination, fleet management and internal investigations, according to his resume.

He has earned several honors including an Officer of the Year commendation, lifesaving awards and a Distinguished Service Award and Unit Citation for extraordinary service.

LeCompte earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Bucks County Community College, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Joseph’s University, numerous supervisory certifications from different state and federal law enforcement institutions including the Northwestern University School of Police Command.

The Warrington resident is a member of several police chief associations and the Delaware Valley Negotiators Association.

The department’s second-in-command, Lt. Charles Pinkerton, has watched LeCompte become the chief he is today.

“He’s a person I have a lot of confidence in,” Pinkerton said. “We have worked so many calls together. We are going to build on a lot of great things we already have.”

The township manager agreed.

“Chief LeCompte is a dedicated professional with more than 30 years experience in police work and we know he will serve the residents of Northampton Township with energy, enthusiasm, and passion for many years,” Pellegrino said.