By John Sorce |
SHREWSBURY – On Tuesday, Jan. 16, Robert Turner was sworn in as Shrewsbury’s newest police chief at the town’s council meeting.
“It was definitely an emotional moment,” Turner said. “I had my dad, who was a police officer in Long Branch, hold the Bible for me. It was very special.”
Turner grew up in West Long Branch and attended Shore Regional High School before earning a degree in criminal justice from Monmouth University in 1996. He was hired by the Shrewsbury Police department in December 1998 as a patrolman and has been rising through the ranks with the department ever since, serving as a detective, detective sergeant and lieutenant.
“Shrewsbury is a great community,” Turner said. “As far as police work goes, it’s really the best of both worlds because we are a great community that we love to be involved with.” As he enters his 20th year working for the town, he cites the main roads and the various businesses as the things that keep him the busiest.
For a smaller community, there is a lot of traffic in Shrewsbury and a lot of people coming in and out of town. Turner does not see that as a negative, but rather as a sign that people want to come to spend time in Shrewsbury.
“We have a lot of growth, which is nice,” Turner said. “We have the major roadways. I believe the population in town during the daytime is 84 percent more. We have a lot of traffic, a lot of people coming in and out of our shops, and a lot of those stores are open at night. For a small town, we have a high number of people coming in and out and spend time in our nice town.”
Shrewsbury saw a 13 percent decrease in total crime from 2016-2017, and Turner believes visibility is the key. “I think having our guys on the road, even though we are a small department, when people see officers constantly driving up and down the roadway…people are less likely to commit a crime,” Turner said. “When our guys are out there, and they do a great job, they are very visible, and I think that plays a big part.”
Interestingly, the Shrewsbury Police Department does not provide coverage in Shrewsbury Township, which Turner said is monitored by the New Jersey State Police.
Shrewsbury Township students don’t attend Shrewsbury schools, either. “Even though we share the same name, it’s very separate,” Turner said. “Residents in Shrewsbury Township go to schools in the Tinton Falls school system.”
Turner resides in Oceanport with his wife, Mary Alyce, and his three boys who all participate in sports. He coaches them in a few different sports, including lacrosse, which he says was not an option for him growing up. “That was something that wasn’t around back when I was growing up around here,” Turner said. “There was no lacrosse. When my son played his first game in fifth grade, it was the first time I had even seen a lacrosse game. Anything you get to do with your sons is a lot of fun and I will miss it one day when it’s all done.”
Shrewsbury Mayor Don Burden has known Turner since he joined the force, and he is pleased to see Turner climb the ranks to claim the top spot. “I think he has the strength and he brings some additional cohesiveness to the squad and the department,” Burden said. “He’s well respected in the community and has been a recipient of several proclamations and awards from various organizations in town, from schools to the department of public works. It’s just a good fit and we’re delighted that we can move an appointment to a chief who has worked through the ranks and knows the community.”
This article was first published in the Feb. 8-15, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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