By JOHN T. WARD
Bobby Turner says he entered college thinking he’d become a social worker or teacher, and even spent a few years pointing in that direction careerwise.
But his father, Greg, frequently spoke of how much he missed police work, despite having been shot in the shoulder while responding to a call in 1972, an injury that forced him to leave the job, Turner told redbankgreen in an interview in his borough hall office Tuesday.
“He would always tell me how much he loved and missed being a police officer,” Turner said. “And I thought, here’s a guy who pretty much should have been killed doing something, and he misses it so much, it must be a pretty good occupation.”
Turner, then a student at Monmouth University, changed his major to criminal justice. After graduation, he paid his way through the police academy, and was hired as a Shrewsbury patrolman in 1998.
Now 43 years old and the father of three boys, the Ocean Township resident was sworn into his new job in a quiet ceremony Wednesday morning. A formal swearing-in is slated for January 16.
Turner has served as acting chief since the July 1 retirement of Lou Ferraro, who was chief for nearly five years, and Turner’s contract is retroactive to the date of Ferraro’s appointment, said Mayor Don Burden, who called the promotion “such a natural” move.
Turner “was on a promotion track all the way” since his earliest days with the force, Burden said. “He’s a stellar performer, a natural leader who’s well-respected by all the men and women of the department,” he said. “He just seems to pull people together. The residents have tremendous respect for him.”
The 16-officer squad provides security to a quiet bedroom community of 4,100 residents framed by highways and retail activity that sharply boosts the daytime population. Turner said his primary focus is on maintaining police services while keeping a lid on his area of the budget, which accounted for $2 million of the town’s $4.8 million in personnel costs in 2017, according to the budget.
The biggest challenge is “going to be money — saving dollars for the taxpayers without affecting the level of service,” Turner said.
Burden said the expansion of the business base, as well as the widespread opioid epidemic, are also expected to challenge the department in coming months.