Today, I sadly learned that our Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan will not seek re-election for a third term. For those that have followed Community Matters for a while, you will know that I have not kept my friendship with Tom a secret. Well over a decade ago, when he was Tredyffrin Township’s solicitor, we bonded over historic preservation issues. The friendship and mutual support for historic preservation has continued through the years.
It’s easy for some to say that “everyone is replaceable”, but there is no doubt that many of the 500,000 Chester County residents will miss having Tom Hogan at the helm, when he leaves office at the end of the year. During his eight years as our District Attorney, Tom has contributed greatly to making Chester County a safer place for its citizens and for that we can all be grateful.
Thank you District Attorney Hogan for your service and dedication to our community and best wishes for the future. Without a doubt, you will continue to have success!
Rather than anyone speculating as to why he will not seek a third term, I think it is best to just post Tom’s very personal message directly from his Facebook page:
To My Beloved Chester County:
It has been my privilege and duty to serve as the Chester County District Attorney for the last two terms. Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to a third term.
There are three reasons that I have reached this decision, after careful consultation with my family and colleagues.
First, we have accomplished everything we set out to achieve and more. And when I say “we”, I mean the entire team that worked together every step of the way to deliver justice to Chester County. We made Chester County the safest county in Southeastern Pennsylvania. We created successful protocols for active shooters, homicides, child abuse, sexual assaults, elder abuse, and many other crimes. We responded early and hard to the opioid epidemic, bringing every tool available to the job, and have kept Chester County’s overdose levels down and falling. We inherited a dysfunctional office, modernized it, recruited outstanding people, then trained them to be even better. We have one of the best in-house trial advocacy programs in the nation. We created a vertical prosecution model for major cases, pairing prosecutors with investigators right from the start of a case, leading to both deeper investigations and more coordinated trials. We conducted major anti-violence and anti-drug initiatives, like Operation Silent Night in Coatesville and Operation Wildfire across Chester County. We built a new Computer Forensics Lab, a new Drug Unit work space, and a new Crime Scene Forensics Unit work area. We established a Central Booking Facility, a project that was a law enforcement dream in Chester County for decades. We doubled the resources for the Child Abuse Unit and created an Elder Abuse Task Force, creating protections for the most vulnerable populations.
We also always have been tough on violent criminals, predators, and corrupt officials. James Hvizda, Gary Fellenbaum, Richard Como, David Desper, Sammy Smith, Duron Peoples, Jack Mayer, Barry Baker, Clayton Carter – – these are just a few of the defendants who wish they never heard of the Chester County DAO.
But we also proved that you could be both tough on crime and establish meaningful reforms. On the reform front, we required independent investigations of officer-involved shootings, scientifically valid eye-witness identifications, truth in testimony from the police, the recording of interviews of suspects, and an open-file discovery process to make sure that the defense was never denied any evidence. Our prison population is at a historically low level, because we have robust diversionary programs for non-violent criminals. We did the right thing, the hard thing, for the right reasons. And of course we made mistakes, but they were always honest mistakes that we tried to correct and never repeat.
The Chester County District Attorney’s Office now stands as that “shining city upon a hill,” an example of what a prosecutor’s office should and must be. The DAO is as strong and deep as it ever has been. I am proud to leave that as my legacy.
The second reason for my decision is that I am honoring the request of my family. This is a note that my daughter found one morning outside her door when she was in middle school: “I went to a homicide scene. Mom is in China for work. Make your little brother breakfast. I will be back to take you guys to school. Love, Dad.” As the District Attorney, I am often gone. And even when I am there, I am often someplace else in my head, thinking about a case. I left my family at a vacation in Disney World to fly home to deal with a homicide. But nobody’s family should have to put up with a life like this forever. Being the kids and wife of the District Attorney is not easy. My family never wanted me to run for another term (the vote was unanimous). Should I have listened to them at the end of last year? Of course. But I was too busy being District Attorney to even think about it. My family deserves a break.
Third and finally, it is time for a new challenge. I have been a line Assistant District Attorney, trying every case that came along. I have been a federal prosecutor, with the enormous powers that accompany that job. I have been the District Attorney, and got to re-make the DAO into my own vision, a hybrid between a federal prosecutor’s office and a local prosecutor’s office. Now is the right time in my life to take up a new challenge.
A few final thoughts. To the men and women of law enforcement, thank you for your courage, integrity, and loyalty. You are the best.
To our prosecutors, you make me proud every day. You try difficult cases, you protect victims, you never cut corners, and you uphold the integrity of the Chester County DAO. You can tell by the number of other agencies and law firms constantly trying to lure our folks away to higher-paying jobs that we produce skilled and ethical prosecutors.
To the victims of crimes and their families, you taught me lessons about grace and courage that I will never forget. It has been an honor to seek justice for you.
To the citizens of Chester County, thank you for all of your support over the years. I could go anywhere in Chester County and have people greet me with, “Hello Mr. District Attorney!” From North Coventry to Oxford, from Honey Brook to my home in Willistown, our citizens rejoiced in the victories of the DAO. Looking into the future, please realize that Chester County is still growing rapidly. We have about 800 police officers right now. Within the next ten years, we should grow to about 1,000 police officers. Invest in the safety of you, your family, and your business. And finally, respect each other. Chester County is like living in Wonderful World of Oz. We have everything: safety, education, health, wealth, and happiness. While the rest of the country and world may argue, keep working together. Chester County must remain a special place.
As my replacement to run for District Attorney, I respectfully suggest First Assistant District Attorney Michael Noone. Mike has served as First Assistant for the last seven years and knows the operations of the DAO intimately. He also is the co-chair of the Overdose Prevention Task Force, leads the Elder Abuse Task Force, and reviews all sexual assault prosecutions. In addition to his extensive trial experience, he was the lead prosecutor against Gary Fellenbaum, now serving life imprisonment for the torture and killing of three-year old Scotty McMillan. Mike is well-known to law enforcement and our judges. He will keep Chester County safe.
That’s it. No scandals. I am still happily married to my wife of 22 years and have two great kids. No back story. I am still the nerd who never even tried marijuana. Nope, I am just somebody recognizing that there is a time to leave public life. I will complete my second term, and then help my replacement take over the DAO. After that, I am off to a new adventure.
Until then, I will sign off with our usual salute: #chescojustice. Forever.
Thomas P. Hogan
Chester County District Attorney