SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS — Friends, family and fellow officers made up a large audience for the promotion and oath of office swearing-in ceremony of two new hires to the Spring Lake Heights Police Department during the borough council meeting in the municipal building on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Matthew Bogdan and Ronald Velardi III, both sworn in by Municipal Court Judge Colin Quinn, join the force as patrolmen after unanimous approvals from all council members present.
Concluding the ceremony, Mayor Christopher M. Campion praised the department for the improving culture and “fine officers” he has noticed during his time as mayor.
“It’s an incredible culture shift that I’ve seen the past decade,” said Mayor Campion, touting the merits of the department’s “hometown policing” approach. The approach is also commonly known as community policing, Heights police Chief Ed Gunnell told The Coast Star.
Though many officers in the department are from surrounding towns, the community aspect has “more to do with their personality,” said Chief Gunnell. He explained that it is helpful in smaller towns, where officers can get to know the residents on a personal level.
Both Ptl. Bogdan and Ptl. Velardi are officers with prior experience in the area. Ptl. Bogdan served in the Spring Lake Police Department, while Ptl. Velardi served in the Point Pleasant Borough Police Department. Both officers were Class II special officers at their previous departments, Chief Gunnell told the Coast Star. Class II special officers are part-time officers, he said.
During the ceremony, an audience filled the room, with some guests even lining the walls or occupying the doorway. Finance Committee Chair John Casagrande described it as a “full and vibrant meeting.”
After the ceremony had concluded, the two newly-sworn officers left to be celebrated by those who had gathered to see them.
Chief Gunnell expressed confidence in the two officers, who stood for their oaths with smiles on their faces, saying that their fit for the role was “very evident in their interviews” and that their peers had spoken highly of them.
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