DANVILLE — Stephen Bennick, a long-time Sunbury police officer and current Montour County Deputy Sheriff, passed away unexpectedly Monday morning.
Bennick, 61, became the first captain in the Sunbury Police Department in nearly 50 years when he was appointed to the post by Sunbury Mayor Kurt Karlovich in 2017.
"On behalf of the Sunbury Police Department, our condolences go out to Capt. Bennick's family. We are saddened to learn of this news," Sunbury Police Chief Brad Hare said. "He was our friend and brother. He wasn't just a coworker but he was family. He took my son on countless hunting trips and we all are shocked over this."
Hare said he received an email from the police union early Monday morning. Hare then delivered the news to the rest of the department in which Bennick served 18 years.
"He was a guy you could go to to talk about anything," former Sunbury Mayor Dave Persing said of Bennick. "I am stunned to hear this. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Bennick family. He was just a good guy all around."
"On behalf of the city, our most sincere condolences go out to Capt. Bennick's family and friends," current Mayor Kurt Karlovich said. "He dedicated 18 years of service to Sunbury and the city is grateful. He was always at work and had the community's best interest always at heart."
Bennick retired from the police department in 2018 and went to work for the Montour County Sheriff's Department. Last year he ran for Montour County Commissioner.
"He (Bennick) was a great man and he will be dearly missed," Montour County Sheriff Clair Heath said. "He was a great asset for our department and when I got the call about this I was and still am in shock. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Bennick family."
Bennick spent 23 total years in law enforcement.
During his time in Sunbury, Bennick was responsible for the department’s budget, scheduling, criminal investigations and implementing various technology upgrades to police cruisers for officers. Bennick began the E-ticket system in Sunbury making it easier for officers to issue parking and other small violation tickets.
Prior to working in Sunbury, Bennick served as an officer in the Danville Police Department from 1981 to 1987.
Bennick served as a member of the Northumberland Montour County Drug Task Force throughout his career, investigating thousands of criminal cases and undercover drug investigations.
Former Sunbury Police Chief Tim Miller, who recommended Bennick for the position of captain, said he was also saddened by the news of Bennick's death.
"Despite never having held rank within the Sunbury Police Department, I saw in Capt. Bennick through fresh eyes qualities that I deemed essential to usher in a new vision for the department," Miller said. "Our hearts ache for his wife Vicki and his family."
Prior to serving as a police officer, Bennick joined the Army where he served as a former presidential detail officer for presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Montour County Commissioner and chairman Ken Holdren said he was stunned to learn of Bennick's passing.
"Our sympathy goes out to the Bennick family," he said. "Our citizens are grateful for the service he put in in the sheriff's department."