Law enforcement in Neptune City began in 1881 with several residents being sworn in as “Town Marshals” by the Mayor. They acted on orders from the Mayor only and were non-salaried volunteers, using their personal equipment and horses to keep law and order.
On March 14,1891, John W. Cottrell, Sr. Was appointed Marshal at a salary of $2.00 per day. His hours were 6 am to 8 pm, seven days a week for the summer only. The funds for his salary were obtained from liquor license fees. The first paid officer was deemed necessary because of repeated violations of Neptune City Ordinance #1 which was enacted on February 8, 1882, it forbid horses, mares, mules, pigs, cows, heifers, steer, bulls, oxen, calves, hogs dogs, pigs, goats or any other animal whatsoever to run loose. Other paid marshals following Cottrell were Jordan Lowers, 1892 ($20.00 per day with hours set as sunrise to sunset), Thomas Higgins, 1902 ($45.00 per month) and William S. Bennett, 1902 ($40 per month).
On May 5, 1897, their hours were changed to noon to midnight, and then on August 11, 1897, they were amended again to 1 pm to 1 am.
Mayor Alexander Mullen, on August 17, 1899, appointed Councilman F.D. Clayton to act as Chief of Police and frame a set of laws and instructions for the marshals. It should be noted that some of the early unpaid marshals could neither read nor write and signed their names with an X.
Transportation was afforded the marshals on September 4, 1907, when the Council purchased two new bicycles from Nathan Poland for $12.00.
The first full time, year round, officer was hired on June 1,1910 He was William S. Bennett. Salary was set at $50.00 per month, and his hours were 9 am to 9 pm Sunday through Friday and Saturday noon to midnight. During April 1911, these hours were changed to noon to midnight all week, and officer Bennett’s salary was increased to $65.00 per month. He received his first vacation during the last week of the same year. It was for a period of five days, ending at 6pm on December 30.
Officer Bennett, while being the only full time officer, was also the Superintendent of Streets, Janitor of Borough Hall, Health Inspector, Truant Officer, and License Collector, all without additional pay. However, on July 17, 1912, the Council did buy him his first uniform for $25.00, and three years later, they purchased four police clubs and four pairs of handcuffs for the officers.
On October 18, 1916, the Mayor and Council abolished the police department. Officer Bennett and all part time officers were ordered to turn in all police property to Mayor Arthur T. Flynn. On January 1, 1917, the governing body approved a resolution to have the police department and hired Daniel Gouldy at $75.00 a month. By 1920, his salary was raised to $100 per month, but he had to purchase his own uniforms. The following year, his hours were changed to 7:30 am to 9 pm daily. Officer Gouldy also used a bicycle, never owned a vehicle or a drivers license. By 1924, Officer Gouldy was known as “Chief of Police” The Council purchased their first gun for Officer Gouldy on March 3, 1926, which was a Colt revolver that cost them $28. He was full time for twenty four years, retiring in 1941.On July 6, 1927, Forrest Cottrell, who was working as a special officer was appointed as a regular officer with a salary of $125.00 per month. The department now had two full time officers who worked from 8 am to 8 pm and 8 pm to 8 am seven days a week. For thirteen years, Officer Cottrell used his own vehicle to patrol the streets and was given ten gallons of gas for the use of his vehicle.
During the 1920’s, the officers worked out of the Firehouse, having no headquarters of their own. During February 1929, The officers were given permission to make alterations in a small room on the second floor of the Borough Hall Headquarters. The first police docket was instituted when they moved into their new headquarters, and the two officers hours were 6am to 6pm and 6pm to 6am. They asked the Council for a phone for their new officer, but it was voted down by a 3-2 margin. On March 1929, the officers included in their duties the checking of streetlights and business places each night, (still a practice to this day). In 1932, the Borough Clerk’s office was moved in with the Police and they finally had a telephone installed. In May 1936, a radio receiver, tuned to the Monmouth County Police Radio was purchased for Headquarters.
The 1940’s proved to be the turning point in law enforcement for Neptune City, with new rules and regulations being passed, the first ordinance establishing the police department was enacted in 1941. In March 1941, Dan Gouldy resigned after 24 years of service. Three months later, Edward Schumacher was appointed as patrolman.
The first patrol car was purchased in 1942. It was a 1942 Chevrolet Master Delux. Purchased at Belmar Motors for $922.00 The car was equipped with a one-way radio receiver. In 1943 the two-way radio was installed.
In 1942 Forrest Cottrell was promoted to Chief of Police, the first Chief under the new ordinance. He attended the FBI War Traffic School in that year.
Willard Dennison was appointed as a patrolman in April 1942. There were now three full time officers. Several others worked as part time. In that same year, Ptl. Schumacher was given a leave of absence to enter into the military to fight in WWII. Special Officer, Harold Rowland filled the position until 1944 when Carl Archer took over until 1945 when Schumacher returned.
In January 1947, The Neptune City Police Officers had entered into the NJ Police and Fire Pension System.
In the 1950’s, the increase in complaints and crime in Neptune City had increased substantially. Ptl. Schumacher was promoted to Sergeant and additional patrolman were hired. In 1956, the Police Department moved into its new building, adjoining Borough Hall.
In 1957, the first mechanical speed control was purchased. It was two rubber tubes placed in the street 66 feet apart. When a vehicle crossed the first tube it activated a mercury switch, when that vehicle crossed the second tube, it closed the switch, giving the speed of the vehicle. The machine was in use for ten years.
On January 1, 1960, Forrest Cottrell retired after thirty three years of service to the Police Department. That same day, Sgt. Schumacher was appointed as acting Chief and later that year he was sworn in a Chief and Darwin “Bucky” Glover was sworn in as Sergeant. He was the first officer to graduate from the NJ State Police Academy after already being an officer for nearly ten years. Followed by every officer hired after him. In 1961, the Police Department had its first testing. Leo Bonneau led the field of applicants. He was appointed in October of 1961. In 1962, the Council placed the rank of Lieutenant into the ordinance. In 1963, Richard F. Cottrell became the first Lieutenant. The Police Department now had a Chief, a Lieutenant, a Sergeant and four Patrolman. In 1965, Ptl. Vincent Gionfriddo was promoted to Sergeant, making two in that position.
In February 1966, Chief Schumacher retired after 25 years of service. Lt. Cottrell was promoted to Chief of Police. The Department now had twelve sworn officers. Because of the increase in criminal activity and a need to have them investigated, Ptl. Leo Bonneau was assigned as the first full time Detective which handled all criminal investigations.
In 1967 a third Sergeant position was enacted and Patrolman James Dugan was promoted, Sgt. Gionfriddo was promoted to Lieutenant and Det. Bonneau was promoted to Sergeant.
In the 70’s there was civil disorder in the surrounding communities such as Asbury Park, South Belmar, Monmouth College and Neptune High School. The Neptune City Police Department had to purchase riot equipment for all personnel. They officers often assisted the communities in their civil unrest.
In February of 1971, Neptune City had its first full time dispatcher, William Burke. Four months later, the department upgraded its radio system, making it possible for the police to communicate with their own dispatcher.
The 70’s and 80’s brought a lot of change and increase in criminal and traffic activity. The Neptune City Traffic Bureau was started. Ptl. John Rowland and Ptl. William Geschke were assigned to it. In 1976, Chief Cottrell graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quanico Va. He was the first officer to attend the Academy which has a reputation of being the top law enforcement school in the country.
In 1980 the department strength was amended once again to include the rank of Captain. Lieutenant Gionfriddo was promoted to the new rank and Sgt. James B. Johnson was promoted to Lieutenant.
The next major change in the department came in 1984 when Chief Cottrell retired and Det. Lieutenant James Johnson was promoted to Chief of Police. Chief Johnson attended the FBI Academy in 1982. In 1987 Lt. William Geschke received 6 awards for saving the lives of two youths who were drowning in the Shark River.
During the early 1980’s the Jewish War Vets donated their bullet proof vests to the department, additional vests were donated by the 200 Club of Monmouth County, the Neptune City First Aid Squad and a state grant added more money to purchase them.
In January 1984 the uniform patch was changed for the first time in thirty four years. The previous patch was approved in 1960.
On February 14, 1994 the first bicycle patrol was instituted. Ptl. James Clayton and Ptl. Scott Samis were the first officers assigned to the new patrol unit. Several officers were assigned to the bicycle patrol when the strengths allowed and has been a great deterrent to crime in the community. The Youth Activity Program was also instituted soon after the bicycle patrol. It was a program that was set up by Ptl. Clayton and Samis when they realized the kids in town needed something to do during the summer.
In 1996 the DARE program was brought to Neptune City Ptl. John Matthews was assigned. This included a car that was decorated with DARE logo and markings.
Chief James B. Johnson retired in April of 1997. Lt William Geschke was promoted to Chief of Police, making him the fifth Chief in the history of the department. Lt. Frank Virgilio was promoted to Captain. The Police Department now consisted of a Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, four Sergeants, two Detectives, eight Patrolman and four dispatchers. Ptl. Edmond Zakerowski is the only officer to ever hold the rank of Corporal.
The uniform was also changed soon after from the original French blue shirt and Navy blue pants to an all black uniform, which is still in use today. This change was brought about to separate Neptune City Police Officers from neighboring departments who were wore the French blue.
In 1997, Dr. Herbert Axelrod donated $100,000.00 to the Police Department to purchase a prisoner van, a base radio repeater, new lockers for the police officers squad room, the $80,000.00 to purchase a new mobile computer network system, including laptop computers for each patrol car.
In 1998, the department upgraded the design of the patrol cars to include reflective script lettering in blue, black and silver and all of the cars were painted white.
In 2010, Chief Geschke retired after thirty eight years of service. He was replaced with the first Police Director, Edward Kirschenbaum. Sgt. Louis Trocchio was promoted to Lieutenant until Captain Frank Virgilio retired in January 2011. Sgt. John Matthews was promoted to Lieutenant.
The official uniform patch was changed again on May 15, 2011 making it the third change in the department history.
A special thank you to Chief Richard Cottrell (Ret) for his continued effort and contribution to the Neptune City Police Department history.