By JOHN T. WARD
Three new police officers joined the ranks of Red Bank blue Tuesday night at a packed-house council meeting that also saw three veterans of the force elevated to new positions.
The new hires were touted by elected officials as an exceptional bargain for the town: unlike many of their predecessors, all three already have worked as officers in other jurisdictions. Which means they also “have already been through the police academy training, which saves the borough quite a bit of money,” said Councilman Art Murphy, who doubles as police commissioner.
The trio were culled from an applicant pool of 500 that was swollen with experienced cops who’ve been laid off because of budget issues, Chief Steve McCarthy tells redbankgreen.
Because they’re replacing higher-paid officers who retired recently, “we were able to hire three new officers basically for the price of one or one-and-a-half, if my calculations are right,” said Councilman Mike DuPont, who heads the finance committee.
Added as probationary officers in the patrol division were:
Stanley Balmer, a former Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department officer and, before that, a Long Branch PD detective in the juvenile bureau. He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health for the University of West Virginia, according to a biography provided by the borough.
Garrett Falco Jr., a former patrolman in Asbury Park who also has experience with the Monmouth County Gang Task Force. He has a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Sacred Heart University and a teaching certificate from Montclair State University.
Jhonatan Quipe (pronounced kees-pay), a former patrol officer with the Rutgers University PD and, before that, with the Camden PD. He served four years in the Marines and is fluent in Spanish. He’s working toward a degree in criminal justice at Raritan Valley Community College.
All three got the “highest respect” from their former chiefs, McCarthy said, adding: “Most important is they’re all good people of outstanding character.”
Getting promotions were:
Wendy Samis, who moves from investigator to detective. She’s been with the force for 10 years and was praised for her work leading the case in which 26-year-old borough resident Viridiana Beltran-Gomez went missing and was found murdered six weeks later. Samis, a graduate of the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, has worked in the patrol division and as the department’s DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer; she’s worked undercover on loan to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Narcotics Strike Force; and since 2009, as an investigator in the RBPD detective bureau.
Juan Sardo, on the force since 1999, also steps up from investigator to detective. A native of Venezuela, he’s fluent in Spanish and recently completed State Police courses in crime scene investigation and homicide investigation.
Robert Clayton, a detective, moves up to the sergeant’s rank, and will take over as shift commander in the patrol division. A 20-year veteran of the RBPD, he was promoted to detective in 2002 and was the lead detective in the case of Anthony Sims, convicted of shooting two men at the Montgomery Terrace apartments in 2007. Clayton is the son and grandson of former borough police chiefs.