On June 23, 1933 the Township of Dover passed an ordinance establishing the Dover Township Police Department. The reason for the ordinance was, it was necessary for the officers to be able to join the State Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. This also enabled the officers to receive benefits if they were injured or killed while on duty. At the time Dover Township Police Department consisted of three regular Officers, Jack Costa, Delmar Johnson and Donald Grover. Henry Dunham, no longer a police officer, was the Chairman of the Police Committee. Chief Irons passed away three months before the ordinance was adopted. The population of the town was about 6000.
The department would get its first new patrol car on Jan. 14, 1940. The car was a brand new Plymouth Coupe and cost $353.50. The price included the siren, the red roof light and a heater. The department would see a second new patrol vehicle in 1945.
In December of 1958 the department had about 17 men. The State Policeman’s Benevolent Association granted Dover Township a charter of their own, Local #137.
By the early 1960’s the department had grown to 22 men and six patrol cars. The population of the town had grown to about 20,000 people.
In 1961 the FBI rated the Dover Township Police Department as the second best department in the state of New Jersey. The department grew with the population and added the Detective Bureau in 1962. The Juvenile Bureau and the Traffic Safety Bureau were begun in 1963. The beachfront area of the township has always attracted a lot of vacationers. Along with the visitors came the need for increased police service. District Two would become the department’s first sub-station when it opened in a section of the Ocean Beach Firehouse.
In June of 1963 the department changed their uniforms from white on blue to gray on blue, along with the Stetson campaign style hat. A new department patch was adopted later that same year.
By the mid 1960’s the department had grown to a 38-man force and was hoping to get to 46 men. It had seven marked patrol cars, two unmarked detective cars, one safety car and one 4 wheel drive Jeep. By 1966 the department had grown to 48 men while the township population grew to about 40,000 people.
On March 2, 1967 the department approves its second new patch for the uniform. It is a 200th anniversary township patch. Officer Ken Lloyd designed the patch in honor of the townships 200th Anniversary.
In November 1967 Chief Richard Clement was at Robert Miller Air Park in New Jersey waiting for his stepson, Michael Powell. He noticed a US Flag on the tail of a landing plane and got an idea. He began placing small American flags on the fenders of the township police cars. In December 1967 he started the “Support America Campaign”. DTPD became the first police department to place American flags on the fenders of the police cars. It would later spread throughout the country. The fleet consisted of 17 total vehicles which included nine patrol cars.
In 1969 the department was featured in the New York Sunday Times and the Law And Order police magazine. On May 25 an article entitled “New look for Policemen” appeared in the Times. It showed Chief Clement wearing the blue blazer uniform. The August issue of Law and Order magazine featured a story on the uniforms.
In 1970 Headquarters moved from 118 Horner Street to a temporary location on Hooper Avenue. The department would be housed there until the Law Enforcement Center, which was being built on Oak Avenue, was complete.
Architect Marion J. Varner of Pasadena California designed the Law Enforcement Center. It was built at a cost of $2.4 million dollars and when it opened in August 1975, the center was a state of the art facility. The building was said to be constructed to be safe against bomb attacks and natural disasters. It contained a $150,000 communications center, an automated pistol range, a jail with 10 cells, courtrooms, record rooms, a garage to repair the police vehicles, and administration offices. The building was opened with three days of ceremonies.
Portable radios would become standard equipment in June of 1972. This allows the patrol officer to get out on foot to check businesses and meet with the citizens and not miss any radio calls.
Dover Township Police became one of the first in the state when they issued the Colt Government Model .45 caliber automatic handguns to the members of the Tactical Squad in 1974. In 1975 the weapons were issued to all the patrol officers.
In August of 1975 the Law Enforcement Center opened on Oak Avenue. At that time it was a state of the art facility. The department had 102 regular officers.
In 1977 the Department began programs that were designed to bring the police department and the community closer together. One of the programs was the concept of patrol teams. A team consisted of one lieutenant, two sergeants, one detective, one traffic safety officer, one juvenile officer and six patrol officers. The team would be assigned to certain areas of the township and would be responsible for investigating and dealing all of the incidents in their area of responsibility. This also enabled the citizens and business owners to get to know the police officer as they were dealing with each other on a daily basis. Previously the officers would rotate through the different areas of town.
In 1980 the department had 116 officers and about 60 vehicles, including Ford and Chrysler patrol cars.
By 1989 the department had 127 officers. That same year the patrol vehicles were equipped with Mobil Data Terminals or “MDT’s”. This allowed the officer to run stolen vehicle checks as well as get registration and drivers license look-ups without contacting communications and tying up the radio with non-emergency transmissions.
By the early 1990’s the department had grown to 137 officers. The township placed a freeze on hiring any more police officers. District One was expanded another 72,000 square feet at a cost of 1.5 million dollars. Administration offices, patrol and supervisor locker rooms, a squad room, training room, and gym were all added.
On November 1, 1992 Lt. Michael Mastronardy was appointed to the position of Chief of Police. In 1993 the department implemented a bicycle patrol. The bike was used to get around in the down town area.
In 1994 the department replaced the Colt .45 ACP with the Heckler and Koch USP .40 caliber as the new duty weapon. The H& K would later be replaced by the Glock model 22 and 23 .40 caliber handguns.
By the late 1990’s the township had a population of approximately 84,000 people. The township was classified by the state Department of Community Affairs as an urban center or city, much like Trenton, Camden or Newark. The force had dropped down to about 134 sworn officers.
On July 1, 2001, the department placed two ambulances in service that were staffed by paid EMS personal. The Community Service Officers, (CSO’s), respond to first aid calls that had been previously answered by a police officer.
In October of 2001 a resolution was passed for 1.8 million dollars to update the department’s radio system. The new digital UHF radio system had more channels available, going from two channels to eight, and had an encryption capability.
In October 2002, the new Motorcycle Unit was started. Two Harley Davidson Road Kings were purchased from Ocean County Harley Davidson and four officers were selected for this unit. The officers attended Motor School at the Jersey City Police Academy.
On November 7, 2006, the citizens of Dover Township voted on a name change. A referendum had been placed on the ballet to change the name of Dover Township to Toms River Township. The department had 158 sworn officers. The vehicle fleet consisted of 150 vehicles including patrol cars and trucks, unmarked cars, one surveillance van, four motorcycles, two ATV’s, one transport bus, one prisoner van, two ESU vehicles, one mobile command post, one tow truck, five ambulances, thirteen trailers, and one Zodiac inflatable boat.
The Dover Township Police Department officially became the Toms River Township Police Department on November 14, 2006.
Following the name change from Dover Township to Toms River Township patches, badges, cars, and other items had to be changed to display the new name. This was accomplished over time through attrition.
In April 2008 the department implemented the Spillman Technologies system for computer assisted dispatch, officer reports, records, evidence/property management, Uniform Crime Reporting and data analysis. This highly advanced system allows officers to access vital information regarding emergency calls, address and person history, and motor vehicle look-ups while in their patrol vehicles. Officers utilize this system to enter reports taken in the field and send them wirelessly to police headquarters for approval and filing without using any paper. Officers can use the system to conduct research during an investigation that previously would have required returning to police headquarters. The system also keeps track of patrol vehicle locations allowing dispatchers to see the closest unit for emergency call response.
On August 16, 2011 the Toms River Law Enforcement Center was dedicated as the Chief Richard Clement Law Enforcement Center. Chief Clement served as chief from March 1, 1967 to April 7, 1979. He was present and honored at the dedication ceremony. Chief Clement died on August 14, 2012.
In May of 2012 the department began a utilizing seasonal part time Class I Special Officers for the barrier island areas. These officers are able to assist the regular officers with traffic and parking issues while patrolling on foot and on bicycles. They also provide assistance to residents and visitors with busy road crossings.
On October 29, 2012 Superstorm Sandy struck the east coast and devastated Toms River. The storm surge, flooding and wind destroyed or severely damaged many homes, businesses and utilities on and near the barrier island, bay/river, and inland areas. Toms River Police had to coordinate an emergency response of this magnitude. Many residents had to be evacuated and rescued from their homes. Thousands of residents were without power for an extended period of time and many roads were not passable. After sustaining tremendous damage, the barrier island region was shut down and a mobile command center was opened. All Toms River Police Officers and support staff worked long shifts on the mainland and barrier island in the days following the storm. Many members of Toms River Police suffered severe damage to their own homes while they worked to help others. The rebuilding efforts are ongoing in the years following the storm.
In 2012 Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor patrol vehicles were no longer in production. The department began to replace those vehicles with Dodge Chargers. The Dodge Chargers have more technology and handle better than the outgoing Ford patrol vehicles. Each year as the oldest Ford vehicles are retired they are replaced with the Dodges. Each vehicle is painted, customized and equipped prior to going into service.
In 2013 the department implemented the use of a video system in patrol vehicles. The system captures video from multiple angles as well as audio. It is a valuable tool in capturing evidence and has proven to be a benefit to both officers and citizens.
On June 26, 2013 the new constructed municipal court house and violations bureau was opened at the Chief Richard Clement Law Enforcement Center. This project also renovated the shared lobby between the court and police headquarters.
In September of 2013 the Toms River Police Emergency Services Unit (ESU) Vehicle 205 went in to service. This specialized vehicle is similar in design to Los Angeles County SWAT vehicles. It contains specialized weapons and tools utilized by ESU and provides for rapid response to high risk calls, barricaded subjects, search warrants and other complex calls for service. Highly trained and skilled ESU team members utilize this vehicle during patrol tours to facilitate rapid response. The vehicle was designed and outfitted by ESU Commander Lt. Thomas Laffan.
On January 1, 2014 Captain Mitchell Little was sworn in as the 9th Chief of Toms River Police. He replaced retired Chief Michael Mastronardy who was elected Ocean County Sheriff. At 12:55 a.m. on January 1, 2014 while he was in his first hour as Chief, Chief Little’s leadership was called upon when a shooting with multiple victims occurred at the Ramada Hotel on Rt. 9.
In April of 2014 a new animal facility was opened on the grounds of the Law Enforcement Center. This modern facility is more spacious and more centrally located than the old facility in the North Dover section of town. The TRPD K9 Unit is able to board police dogs at the facility if a K9 officer is away for a period of time.
On 5-18-14 Toms River police held a Community Day. This was an opportunity for the residents of the community to meet their police officers and learn about the department. The Emergency Services Unit, Evidence Technicians, Dive Team, Motor Unit, Traffic Safety, and Bicycle Unit all were on display. Tours of police headquarters were given. Food and bicycle helmets were provided at no cost residents. The department plans to hold a community day every 2 years in May.
In October of 2014 the department introduced the use of 3 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor patrol vehicles. TRPD maintains a fleet of over 150 vehicles that are maintained in the police garage by department mechanics. New vehicles are customized and equipped in the TRPD garage prior to entering service.
Today 163 sworn full time police officers proudly serve the citizens of Toms River Township. It is the largest police agency in Ocean County. 140 members of the support staff provide valuable service to the department and citizens. The department is committed to excellence, professionalism and the use of technology to best serve the residents, visitors and businesses in Toms River Township.