The 1960’s Coping With the Times

The 1960’s ushered in a new township committee and with that change, Chief Holsten was not re-appointed to the position of Chief. Taking his place was John J. Lindner. The police commissioner was Abraham Dobin.

In May of 1960, the township committee adopted the township’s first police ordinance. It provided for a part-time force with Special Police and crossing guards. Detailed rules and regulations were also part of this ordinance. Pay rates were stipulated and the men got a mileage stipend for their vehicles. This action gave tenure to the men currently serving as police officers providing that only new hires must take competitive examinations for future appointment to the force.

On May 4, 1960, the police department consisted of nine patrolmen and the Chief. The Chief was paid $150.00 a month plus 7 cents a mile for using his own car up to 800 miles per month. 6-hour shifts were established for the patrolmen who were paid $100.00 per month. Part timers were paid $1.50 an hour. School crossing guards were also paid $1.50 an hour. Elmer Breece and Arie Breetvelt were appointed crossing guards.

On June 15, 1960 the police department acquired two police cars of their own, 3-speed stick shift Fords with a “bubble-gum machine” on the roof.

Crime in South Brunswick began to rise in the early 1960’s. Thievery during the Kendall Park project, the increased migrant worker population on farms and labor unrest fell upon South Brunswick.

1961 saw the swearing in of the department’s first sergeants. James McDonald, Alfred Oschner and William Voorhees achieved the rank in a ceremony officiated by Chief Lindner.

On February 01, 1961 Charles Larsen was appointed to the force.

March 1, 1961 was the day Harold Rule was sworn in as an officer.

On July 15, 1961 Dorsey Trent was appointed to the department, followed by Frank Simmons on September 1, 1961.

In 1962 Fred Holsten was re-appointed as Chief of Police, “due to public outcry,” claimed the chief.

On January 1, 1962 James McDonald Jr. was hired as patrolman.

August 1, 1962 John Gurnovich was sworn in as a police officer followed by Robert Herrman on August 7.

October 10, 1962 was the day Frank Schuessler was sworn in as a police officer.

On December 1, 1962 Robert McDonald was sworn in as a police officer.

The township started a full-time department as an ordinance was passed on December 19, 1962. The telephone number for the police was DAvis 9-8000. A five-member committee was established to handle all juvenile police cases. The committee was comprised of a member from the Board of Education, the police department, the town magistrate and a member of the clergy. Mayor Richard J. Casey stated that the part-timers would be used for another year “or two”.

The Chief sold his bus and became a full time Chief. The township committee employed 3 full time officers and continued to use the part-timers.

Robert McDonald was appointed as a regular officer at $4,844.00 a year.

On June 3, 1963 Barry Spilatore was appointed to the force. Thomas Lichwa was appointed as a member of the auxiliary police.

May 1, 1964 was the day Milton Leventhal was sworn in as a full time police officer.

Franklin College was sworn in as a police officer on October 19, 1964, along with Robert Sibert.

On January 4, 1966, the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association granted the South Brunswick Police Department its charter. PBA Local 166 was formed. Elected to posts were patrolmen Frank Schuessler (president), Frank Simmons (vice-president), Robert McDonald (state delegate), Barry Spilatore (secretary and treasurer) and Dorsey Trent as recording secretary.

During the 1960’s, the department began to experience change and with the growth of the department a change was needed. On May 21, 1966 Chief Holsten would approach the Mayor to see if full-time police officers could take a dog census on the East Side of Route 1 at $0.25 cents a family. The money obtained would be used for police officer’s life insurance.

Officer safety was a concern during this period. Patrolman Frank College requested that Chief Holsten look into equipment considered for new police vehicles; automatic transmissions, one car used for parades and park patrol equipped with a smaller engine. He also requested outside speakers for the patrol cars, tinted windshields and that the door handles be removed from the interior rear doors. He requested a car with a cage, a mounted spotlight and more warning lights. The one rotating light on the roof (bubble-gum machine) is not enough.

In 1966 the police department issued emergency decals to all the residents.

On May 30, 1966 Patrolman Gurnovich struggled with a man suspected in the break in of the Kendall Park Shopping Center. Gurnovich became ill afterwards and was admitted to Princeton Medical Center. On June 12, 1966, John Gurnovich passed away of a heart attack. “The recent death of Patrolman John C. Gurnovich is a loss that will be felt deeply by the residents of South Brunswick Township and fellow officers throughout the state. John Gurnovich was a police officer that most people came to know, a stocky man with graying hair. Officer Gurnovich represented the law as a firm but gentle man, especially with his work among the young people of the community. Here his concern was not only for the law but for the welfare of the offenders. John always exhibited a special kind of confidence that engendered trust in his judgment and ability. And always, no matter how serious a situation, a warm and friendly smile with a happy little twinkle in his eye that made you sure that everything would be all right,” said Rev. Frank K. Jago, the police Chaplain. A department patrol car led the somber processional to the St. Cecelia’s Roman Catholic Church in Monmouth Junction and then to St. Peter’s Cemetery in New Brunswick. Other police cars, including those from other municipalities and state police followed. One police vehicle carried Chief Fred Holsten and Mayor Daniel Horgan. Police maintained an honor guard of two, changed each 15 minutes according to military custom at the M.J. Murphy Funeral Home on Ridge Road. Patrolmen serving as pallbearers were Frank Schuessler, Charles Wiggs, Richard Larsen, Robert Herrman, Milton Leventhal and Frank College. College and Schuessler conducted the flag-folding ceremony at the cemetery. The flag was presented to his wife Pauline. A fund was established to assist his wife and two young children, Charles J., and Donna Ann. John was a native of New York and moved to South Brunswick in 1949.

On January 1, 1967 part-time patrolman Martin Evans was made a full-time officer.

In 1967 Chief Holsten promoted 3 officers to the rank of Sergeant, Milton Leventhal, Richard Larsen and Barry Spilatore. Patrolman Dorsey Trent was made a full-time officer on July 1, 1967.

On December 1, 1967 Charles Fahrenholz, Joseph Duca, Eugene McCarty as well as Joseph Giorno were appointed to the force. Giorno came from the Middlesex County Park Police.

The patrol car of the era was the Ford with a 3-speed on the column. There was no air conditioning, no AM / FM radio. If the officer had a small AM radio in the vehicle, the chief would "rip it out." Officers were allowed to carry any handgun of their choosing. The department then went to a uniform Colt 4" revolver and finally the Smith and Wesson Model 27, a classic N-frame .357 magnum revolver.

Effective January 1, 1968 a patrolman’s salary was $6,478.00. Sergeants’ pay was $7,130.00. The Chief made $10,416.00. Part-time sergeants made $2.75 an hour, first class officers made $2.50 an hour and the special police officers made $1.70 an hour.

Creature comforts at headquarters were also a concern. On January 8, 1968, a donated television set is used in headquarters during the 11pm to 7am shifts only. But on February 19, 1968 the Chief pulled the plug on it. The television set was donated to the Children’s Ward (a four bed pediatric unit) at Middlesex General Hospital.

On February 25, 1968 graduation exercises were held in the South Brunswick municipal building for police officers successfully completing a course of instruction in Police - Community relations hosted by the South Brunswick Police Department. North Brunswick, East Windsor, Jamesburg as well as South Brunswick Police officers participated in the course which was held for five consecutive Friday afternoons.

“Betsy and Bill and the Nice Bad Man” copyright 1968 was published. "The Police Department, South Brunswick" appears on its cover and inside is a letter to parents from Chief Fred Holsten requesting that they read this book with their children to make them aware of “child molesters” and to be wary of strangers.

The Police Department moved from the Monmouth Junction School into the municipal building on the corner of Kingston Lane and Ridge Rd. The building was equipped with a buzzer security system and solenoid locks.

Police Commissioner Richard Ilnicki made college education available to police officers.
In May of 1968, The Co-op Tactical Unit directed by Detective Frank College was formed to control civil disorders. It acted only at the official request of a police chief asking for help. The unit was comprised of officers from South Brunswick, Jamesburg and Monroe. No one police department of the three participating may assist other municipalities without the participation of the other two departments.

On June 13, 1968, approximately 700 township residents arrived at trackside positions at 1:00pm to pay final respects as the Penn Central train #4901 carrying the body of Senator Robert Francis Kennedy traveled through Monmouth Junction enroute to Philadelphia. The crowds gathered at the passenger station and Reichler Park, "maintaining order and staying in line”, Sgt. Frank Simmons remarked. The sergeant was in charge of a detail of men to assure the train’s uninterrupted journey.

June 27, 1968: A bicycle "fun rodeo" was held at four different locations within the township. Patrolman Charles R. Fahrenholz who was stationed at the Greenbrook school site reported that only two of the 36 bicycles presented for inspection passed his checklist completely. "Both of these were almost brand new," he recalled. He cited absence of fenders, lights and in one-occasion brakes, as reasons for failures. Two recent bicycle accidents prompted the rodeo, which is designed to instruct young people in the proper care and handling of their bicycles.

In August of 1968 the police department used its first key-operated gas pump. Leaded Sinclair "Dino" gasoline was the fuel pumped.

On August 22, 1968 the police acquire RADAR and set up teams to intercept speeders.

In 1969 new positions establishing a records officer, an ID officer, juvenile and detective officers were set in place.

On February 6, 1969, James H. McDonald, 61 a sergeant on the police force with 36 years of service, passed away after an illness.

On February 21, 1969, title 39 (motor vehicle law) books were assigned to each officer.

On April 24, 1969, John J. Niper, Edward Slisky and Robert D. Fenske were sworn in as officers. Niper and Fenske will attend the 114th class at the New Jersey State Police Academy in Sea Girt for the five-week course. Slisky was a former Edison police officer.

On May 2, 1969, the police department held its first annual Policeman’s Ball. Tickets were $4.00 per person for an evening that included dining music during a roast beef meal, an evening of dancing and eye-catching feats of magic. South Brunswick escape artist Dennis Morabito and the Johnny Ray Orchestra provided Professional entertainment.

On May 29, 1969, Leonard C Muuss 28, and Stephen Benjamin Pohling 32, were sworn in as officers. They will attend the Union County Police School in Cranford, N.J. for a six-week basic training course.

From July 15 1969 to July 20, 1969 racial disturbances broke out in normally quiet Jamesburg. The disturbances began after two black teenagers were allegedly beaten by a white ice cream stand owner. South Brunswick Police, Monroe Police, Spotswood Police, the New Jersey State Police, and the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department were deployed in full riot gear to keep the peace.

On October 20, 1969 the title of “Acting Sergeant” was created for patrolmen who would be assigned the position of road supervisor when there was no sergeant working that shift.

Also in October of 1969 a federal grant in excess of $45,000.00 was issued to the South Brunswick Police Department for training officers in traffic investigations, record analysis and citizen education. South Brunswick Police became the first municipal police department in Middlesex County to receive state or federal funds. The funds were utilized as follows: $11,000.00 for equipment, the wages of three police officers and a police secretary. The fund was labeled “Traffic Safety Operation”.

November 27, 1969: Members of the South Brunswick Police Department pistol team takes first place in Division C competition in the Central Jersey Police Pistol League. Last year they placed last. Members are Sgt. Charles Larsen, Sgt. Robert Simmons, Ptl. Joseph Giorno, Ptl. Dorsey Trent and Ptl. Charles Fahrenholz.

On December 8, 1969 a Hopewell youth is charged with two counts of assault and battery and another youth with trespassing after they entered the South Brunswick High School and one of them allegedly attacked two students. Police said that with the cooperation of school officials and the Superintendent of schools, Dr. James A. Kimple, a firm policy of immediate police arrest has been assured for any disorderly or criminal acts committed within the school system. Kimple and Holsten agree upon a procedure to handle all juvenile offenses that occur within the school system.

The choice vehicle for 1969 was the Ford Galaxy. The vehicle featured a 3-speed transmission with on-the-column shift.