By JOHN T. WARD
Kim Ambrose has a lot of titles, but only one she gets teased about.
Mother of three, EMT at Monmouth Park Racetrack, volunteer with the Little Silver and Fair Haven First Aid squads, founder of the Little Silver EMS Cadets program (featured in a redbankgreen story last July), part-time police dispatcher in Rumson, class 1 special police officer in Rumson, police matron in Fair Haven and Rumson: guess which one of those makes her cringe a little.
“It sounds old and stodgy, right?” she says of the ‘matron’ moniker. “It sounds like Helga’s going to come after you.”
Not that she doesn’t take the job seriously. Ambrose gets called in by Fair Haven or Rumson cops to do pat-down searches on female arrestees when a female police officer isn’t on duty which in the case of Rumson is never, as they don’t have any. She also chaperones female suspects when no other women are in the station. She gets paid $14 an hour by one town and $18 an hour by the other.
There’s not a lot of demand for her services. On a combined basis, Ambrose gets called in only 10 to 15 times a year, she said, at an average two hours per assignment.
It’s not the kind of work one enjoys, exactly.
“They’ve been arrested, so they’re not in the best of moods,” she says of her subjects. And, these being small towns, it’s not unheard of for a matron to find herself face-to-face with a friend or acquaintance.
It can be “a little awkward,” she says, “when people you know, or their kids, get arrested for doing dumb things. But you treat them with respect, and you hope everything works out for them.”
Ambrose said she has never yet found weapons or drugs on a suspect, probably because before her arrival, police have already told the suspect that if they’re carrying anything illegal, it’s best to surrender it immediately and of their own volition.
The 49-year-old Fair Haven resident was working as a part-time dispatcher in her hometown about four years ago when she was offered the opportunity to become a police matron. The department, which has female officers, needed someone it could call in when one wasn’t on duty without having to incur police-rate overtime. “I said, ‘yeah,'” she said, and went to the Monmouth County Police Academy for training.
Since then, Fair Haven shifted its dispatch work to Monmouth County, which knocked one job off her résumé. A year ago, she became a matron in Rumson, where Kate Inacio is also a matron.
Though she’s often called out in the middle of the night, Ambrose said there’s a pleasant side to it: she gets to have conversations with cops she otherwise might only see at accidents and other emergencies.
“I get to catch up on their lives at two o’clock in the morning,” she says.