Written by Nicole Foulke.
Governor Tom Corbett nominated former Norristown police chief Russell Bono for the Montgomery county sheriff position on Tuesday, to replace the county’s sheriff Eileen Whalon Behr, who recently resigned.
Russell J. Bono served as chief of the Norristown Police Department from 1998 to his retirement in 2013, which capped off 42 years of his law enforcement service to Norristown, according to the Norristown Police Department.
“Russell Bono’s dedication to protecting and serving the people of Montgomery County make him a natural choice for Sheriff,” Corbett said in a media release from his office. “He has a long history of public service and I am confident in the job he will do as Montgomery County Sheriff.”
Under the state constitution, the sheriff is the primary law enforcement officer in his county. Though local police and state police do most of the policing, the Sheriff’s powers allow his office and his sheriff’s deputies to enforce the law.
“I am honored and humbled that Governor Corbett has nominated me for Montgomery County Sheriff,” Bono said. “I believe my 42 years of experience in law enforcement have prepared me well to serve the citizens of Montgomery County and I thank the Governor for his confidence in my abilities," said Bono in the media release.
Bono’s nomination comes soon after the Montgomery County Republican Committee (MCRC) recommended him to the governor to fill Behr’s position after she left to work for Drexel University in Philadelphia.
From here, Bono has 10 days to file his paperwork with the state senate, after which the decision will go before the senate for confirmation, according to the governor’s media office. The senate then has 25 session dates to confirm the nomination.
A long career in law enforcement
Born in Norristown in 1947 as the youngest of three siblings, Bono grew up in Norristown’s East End, helping his father with the family’s business and dreaming of one day becoming a police officer, according to the Norristown Police Department.
He attended Holy Saviour Grade School, later graduating from Bishop Kenrick High School in 1965. In 1966 he joined the United States Army during the Vietnam War, where he served as a Military Police Officer and rose to the rank of Sergeant.
He returned to Norristown and married his high school sweetheart, Linda Cione; the two became parents to three daughters and, after 43 years of marriage they are now grandparents to seven grandchildren.
Bono joined the Norristown Police Department in 1971 as a patrolman, eventually gaining a K-9 partner named King. While employed with the force Bono earned an Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice from the Montgomery County Community College, graduating magna cum laude.
He worked both in the department’s patrol division and the detective division, becoming police chief in 1998. He was instrumental in the department earning accreditation from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association in 2003. Norristown was the first ‘borough’ of its kind in Pennsylvania to have its police department earn that recognition.
He also served as president of the Montgomery County Chiefs of Police Association.
Outside of his police work, he served as Norristown’s interim borough manager from 2006-07 and he served as a member of the Hancock Fire Company.
Bono has earned various awards and honors through his career, including the Montgomery County Victim Services "Matty Muir" award in 2003, an organizational excellence award for the Norristown Police Department’s ‘Operation Bee Sting’ in 2006 and an induction into the International Police Association Hall of Fame in 2005.