Establishment & Early History
The Holmdel Township Police Department was formally established by a Township Committee ordinance in 1966.
Its early history, however, began in 1947, when Joseph W. Phillips, a life-long Township resident and local school bus driver and mail deliverer, was appointed part-time constable. Five years later, in 1952, he became the township's first Police Chief and Arthur Klatt was appointed part-time constable.
Other early members of the department were Howard Porter, who would later become a full-time officer, and Kenneth Hopper. Both were appointed in 1960 as special officers, which meant they worked part-time on weekends or during other free time.
Fifteen years later, in 1962, the Police Chief's position was made full-time under state civil service regulations. During those early years, the department dealt mainly with traffic control and enforcement of Township Ordinances, with other law enforcement being handled by the New Jersey State Police. There were numerous incidents of pranksters and weekend problems with migrant workers who came to work on the local potato farms. When Holmdel Park was established by the Monmouth County Parks Department, the center of Holmdel became a popular spot for outsiders, but also brought some new problems for the local police force.
At the beginning of the 1960s, the Chief worked out of his home. The department also had one drawer in the municipal judge's desk in the old town hall, formerly located further east on Crawfords Corner Road. At that time, the township had a population of 3,000 and the department's budget was $3,000. The officers drove their own cars, equipped with sirens and portable red lights, and their summons books were suitable for both Holmdel and Colts Neck, then known as Atlantic Township.
From the outset, Kenneth Hopper, because of his knowledge of communications, became involved with upgrading the radio communications system. When the new town hall was built in 1980, he also designed and installed much of the elaborate, present-day communications system.
By the time the department celebrated its first anniversary in 1967 as a full-time department, it had grown to a complement of four full-time officers and three special officers, plus a german shepherd police dog, named Nemo, who served as "back-up" for one-man night patrols.
The additional officers included Bruce Phillips and John Brady, who were appointed in 1965 as the department's first full-time patrolmen. The first police car, a 1965 Ford was also acquired that year. In 1966, Bill Truex was hired as the third patrolman, and the third special officer was William Ryder. Bruce Phillips was later promoted to sergeant and in 1971 succeeded his father, Joseph, as Police Chief.
Growth Over Decades
Over the years, the department has been housed in various facilities. From the judge's desk drawer, it moved to a basement room in the old Town Hall, then on to the Road Department garage, and finally, in 1981, to its present state-of-the-art quarters in Town Hall.
In 1968, two more officers joined the force, Dominic Cavallaro and Thomas Durdack. A second police car was acquired.
Major cases in the earlier years included a double homicide on Longstreet (Roberts Road) in 1972, which was reported on the front page of the New York Daily News; a murder at Bayshore Community Hospital, also in 1972, and in the late 1970s, a million-dollar residential robbery.
Since the early 1960s, when the fledgling department patrolled the township's 18 square miles, the population has grown to approximately 16,000. Complaints, which in 1965 numbered 540, in 2000 swelled to 21,505.