The 1970’s Shaping the Future
As the department moved into the new decade so did technology. On February 16, 1970 the police department received its new, state certified, Stephenson Model 900 Breathalyzer. Ptl. Charles Fahrenholz became the department's first and only certified operator in the “Traffic Safety Operation”.
Route 13 was officially named as Route 27.
Racial tensions flare up again in Jamesburg on April 27 1970 when the son of the ice cream storeowner (site of the 1969 disturbance) was reported in a fight with a black juvenile. Police agencies from surrounding towns were dispatched back into Jamesburg as well as the Co-op Tactical Unit.
On May 21, 1970 the starting salary for a patrolman rose to $7,725.00.
The 1970’s brought about the Muscle Car. In order to intercept violators, the police department felt a need for speed.
On August 6, 1970 police kill more than 200 guinea pigs abandoned on Stouts Lane, abandoned 500 feet from Rt. 1. Police suspect they may have been used in a research laboratory. Six were sent to Trenton for examination. The road department removed the animals’ bodies.
On August 20, 1970 South Brunswick Police acquired two new Plymouth Fury III four door sedans with air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmissions and a big 440 cubic inch engine. “You could hear your back-up coming from miles away…” stated Officer Joseph Boguszewicz. The cars were purchased through a state program for $2,303.00 each. They had round township decals on the doors.
On October 21, 1970 James T. Petrik and Phillip R. Russell are appointed as officers.
On November 1, 1970 Frank Volpicella was hired as a police officer.
On December 31, 1970 the township adopts an ordinance establishing an $8.00 per hour fee for the services of police officers assigned to quasi-public duty.
The department was still utilizing Ford Galaxies as well as the Plymouth.
On January 28, 1971 the police department received $15,000.00 in federal grant money in project “Traffic Safety Operation.” The funds were used in the area of personnel wages for the departments newly formed Traffic Safety Bureau.
Lester Schaub, former Mayor was hired as a full-time dispatcher.
On April 18, 1971 Ptl. Joseph Giorno was shot as he wrestled with a 38 year old township man who attacked him while he was in his patrol car. John Smith was shot in the stomach and Giorno in the left toe as Giorno fought off Smith using his feet as he was pinned to the front seat.
On April 22, 1971 Michael Duca is appointed to the force.
South Brunswick’s first lieutenant, Frank Simmons was promoted from sergeant on May 1, 1971 and Ptl. Giorno was promoted to sergeant filling Simmons' slot.
August 8, 1971 was the day Michael Murphy came on board as a police dispatcher.
September 21, 1971: the township committee dropped a three-day suspension of Ptl. Leonard Muuss based on a charge of negligence. Chief Holsten resulting from Muuss’ involvement in a motor vehicle accident while on patrol levied the suspension. According to the accident report filed by Sgt. Charles Larsen and Lt. Frank Simmons, Muuss using only flashing lights failed to use his siren when he gave chase to a vehicle and was subsequently struck by a third vehicle. The committee, instead of upholding the disciplinary action, ruled that in the future police officers involved in motor vehicle accidents would attend driving school and work the desk until the course is completed.
For 1972, the Ford Galaxies were phased out for a fleet of Plymouth Furys.
Anthony Santowasso and Robert Chibbaro (Anthony Delre’s –from the original 1930’s group- nephew) were sworn in as officers of the department on February 2, 1972.
On April 22, 1972 Kenneth Kersch and Joseph Boguszewicz were appointed as officers.
Starting salaries on May 3, 1972 were: $7,834.00 for a patrolman, $9,165.00 for a detective, $9,601.00 for a sergeant, $11,821.00 for a lieutenant and the chief made $13,841.00. There was also a $200.00 uniform allowance and a cleaning allowance of $110.00.
On August 3, 1972 the department consists of 25 men on the force, 16 patrolmen, four sergeants, three detectives, one lieutenant and one chief. There are two civilian dispatchers and two secretaries.
September 9, 1972 was the day Harold Coleman Jr. was sworn in as a police officer.
On September 13, 1972 two township police cars have VASCAR installed in them. VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) is an electronic calculating device. The officer can measure the time it takes an auto to cover a certain distance and from the measurements VASCAR automatically computes the speed within a tenth of a mile an hour. Also, the department's first portable police radios were in service. There were just two radios for the department and they were used on stakeouts and secretive jobs exclusively.
September 29, 1972: Two days of feuds at the South Brunswick High School cause the police to deploy three plainclothes officers to patrol the schools hallways while two uniformed patrolmen remained outside. 17 people were arrested during the two days of unrest.
The morning of November 14, 1972 was hardly routine. Two gunmen surprise cleaning man Harry Jackson, 66 as he walked out of the National Bank of New Jersey on the corner of Route 27 and New Rd at 7:45am. They forced Jackson to let them into the building. Once inside, Jackson apparently panicked and was shot four times with a small caliber weapon and dragged into the customer service area near the vault. The duo hid in the bank until employees arrived. At 8:30am, they herded 5 women tellers into the men’s room and forced the branch manager, Richard Mazur to open the vault and phone the main office in New Brunswick to tell them all was well. He did both. The thieves emptied the vault of $66,453.00. They ordered Mazur into the men’s room for 10 minutes. The police arrived at 9:07am after the pair had left. It was South Brunswick’s first bank robbery.
On November 18, 1972 Township detectives Eugene McCarty and Joe Duca locate and recover the getaway car used in the National Bank of New Jersey robbery-murder. The vehicle was located in the Barrett Gardens apartment complex off of Route 27. It was stolen from Landis Ford in North Brunswick. Then, in a break, “like something out of a television series”, a link with the two suspects is made.
On information obtained through the efforts of the South Brunswick Police, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police and the FBI, South Brunswick Police sign murder warrants against two Hungarian immigrants, Laszlo Kopucsi of Los Angeles and Istvan Kele of Houston. Federal bank robbery charges are also filed in Newark on November 22, 1972.
On November 24, 1972 both men were arrested, Kopucsi in Philadelphia and Kele outside his home in Houston.
On December 1, 1972 a third robbery suspect was nabbed in Los Angeles, Gyula Varadi. And, on December 20, 1972 the fourth and final suspect, the driver of the getaway car, Istvan Mezes is arrested in Edison.
For 1973, as the Plymouths were being phased out, the department acquires new Dodges.
On June 7, 1973 the bank robbery trial begins. Ptl. Robert Chibbaro testified that he questioned two men on a suspicious auto call on a road near the bank on November 10, 4 days prior to the robbery-murder. The two men in the car were Kele and Mezes, casing the bank.
June 16, 1973: At 8:35am a fire rips through the trailer at 19 New York Ave. in Monmouth Mobile Home Park as Rhonda Sowards, age 6 and her sister Tammy, age 13 were asleep inside. Off-duty patrolman Michael Duca who was visiting friends nearby managed to enter the burning structure and pull Rhonda to safety through a rear door after Tammy's efforts failed. Tammy escaped through a front door. Duca received several commendations including a commendation from the state's General Assembly for his “quick thinking, decisive action, and personal sacrifice in the face of danger." Duca is also presented the Medal of Honor, the highest award issued by the police department. He is the only officer on the department to hold this award.
On June 21, 1973 Kele and Mezes are convicted. Kele was sentenced to life in prison, Mezes and Kopucsi received 20 years and Varadi pled guilty. Austrian police and Interpol wanted Mezes and Kele for a series of robberies and murders in Austria.
On July 25, 1973 South Brunswick gained it first detective sergeant, Frank College and as so heads the department's three man detective bureau.
Ronald Horinko was appointed as a police officer to the department on September 16, 1973 followed by John Prince the next day.
On November 17, 1973 Special Officer James W. Styers Jr. passed away. He is buried in Dayton, NJ
In 1974 the Dodge and Plymouth fleet was replaced by Chevrolet Belairs. These did not last long as it had no police package. The standard transmission and suspension system simply could not take the pounding. Fords replaced them.
In August of 1974, Chief Fred Holsten officially retires after 41 years of service. Lt. Simmons is appointed acting Chief.
On August 26, 1974 the N.J. State Council of the Knights of Columbus has selected Patrolman Robert Chibbaro as its first "Policeman of the Year." Chibbaro was chosen for his role in the bank robbery-murder case. "He is deserving of the honor and was chosen from among many outstanding police officers who were nominated throughout the state."
The police department sees a need for more room at their headquarters. Officers complain of the overcrowding. They have 28 officers and very limited room. They were advised on September 12, 1974 that as soon as the new municipal building is constructed, the building that they are currently sharing with the court and the municipal offices would all be theirs.
On October 3, 1974 a bicycle registration program is initiated, and the current trooper-style hat replaces the old eight-point hat.
On October 5, 1974 Ronald Farrell was sworn in as an officer.
As the Fords began to expire, the Oldsmobile Delta 88 replaced them.
In February of 1975 the starting salary for a patrolman was $9,500.00 and detectives made $15,000.00. Officers were entitled to 2 personal days, another first for the police department.
February 15, 1975 was the date Michael Putyrske, Mark Hiestand, George Olynyk and former dispatcher, Robert Larsen was sworn in as officers.
On February 18, 1975 Lt. Frank Simmons is sworn in as Chief. One of the first orders of business was to change the round township decal, which resembled the Department of Public Works decal, to a blue badge shape, which was reflective.
Detective Sergeant Frank College is promoted to Lieutenant on June 12, 1975.
In a heavy, lasting rainstorm on July 15, 1975, the center divider of Route 1 acted like a dam as waters from the swollen Oakeys Brook overflowed its banks and flooded the Oakdale Mobile Home Village. Without any cooperation from the state, and shortly after a member of the press covering the evacuation of the park left, the Department of Public Works and the Police called for a front end loader and jack-hammer. It arrived and a 10-foot section of the wall was knocked out, draining the mobile home Park. The state replaced the section with drainage holes in the new base. Today many low-lying sections of Route 1 throughout the state have these drainage holes.
With the new municipal building finished, the old building was turned over to the police and court. On September 20, 1975, a new police radio room at a cost of $110,000.00 is installed in a room that used to be the township administrative offices. Dual consoles, 1 ½ inch thick bullet resistant glass, a steel door with solenoid lock and alarm panels were some of its many features.
The police department was officially reorganized Tuesday December 12, 1975 when the township committee approved amendments to town laws changing the structure of the department. The department now has a separate juvenile bureau. All detectives are temporarily assigned to the investigative bureau and most officers will rotate throughout the various bureaus; traffic, patrol and investigative The reorganization also called for the rotation of sergeants throughout bureaus and the abolishment of the title Detective Sergeant.
In 1976 the Oldsmobile Cutlass replaced the Oldsmobile Delta 88.
On July 19, 1976, Reverend John Maltby is contacted to become the police department’s Chaplain, replacing the Reverend Frank Jago.
For 1977 the Ford LTD replaced the Oldsmobile Cutlass.
The police department started its own library on March 22, 1977 with books and literature pertaining to law enforcement.
On August 31, 1977 the Police Department purchases its own “Universal Gym” from funds obtained from municipal vending machines. The gym was placed in the locker room that was small to begin with.
As the Ford LTD’s began to expire, the department chose the Oldsmobile Delta 88 again as its successor.
On January 19, 1978, The South Brunswick Police Department hired its first female dispatcher, Sharon Zeltakalns who filled the vacancy when Lester Schaub retired in January of this year.
To keep the men informed of the events since they were last on duty, on March 29, 1978 Lt. College proposed that a 15 minute muster be established before each shift goes on duty.
On May 1, 1978 the department appoints Michael Paquette and Richard Hutchison to the department.
On May 31, 1978 officers begin rotating through the Detective Bureau and the Traffic Bureau on a voluntary basis.
The department increases in size as Angelo Cresci, Albert Duca and Scott Hoover are sworn in on August 3, 1978. They graduated from the Middlesex County Police Academy in December after 15 weeks of training.
The Olds Delta 88 continued its reign through 1979.
In July of 1979 the Police Department ordered Mossberg shotguns for all their patrol cars.
On August 6, 1979 Theresa Bierman was hired as a civilian dispatcher.