The Manchester Township Police Department is pleased to announce the promotions of one Lieutenant and three Sergeants, as well as the hiring of a Patrolman and Class II Special Officer during a November 30, 2016, ceremony in the Municipal Complex Civic Center. Before their family, friends, and police personnel including Chief Lisa Parker, Mayor Kenneth Palmer administered the Lieutenant oath to Officer James Komsa; the Sergeant oath to Officers Patrick Morgan, Antonio Ellis and Paul Bachovchin; the Patrolman oath to Thomas Dill; and the Class II Special Officer oath to Gavin Reilly.
“The officers being promoted today are dedicated, hardworking individuals who will set high standards for those they supervise,” said Chief Parker, who noted that the grueling testing process undergone by each candidate entails countless hours of study. “I’m proud of each of you for your commitment to serve the public, as well as each other.”
Taking his oath first was Lt. Komsa, who joined the Department in 2000 as a Patrol Officer. Lt. Komsa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and a Master’s Degree in Administrative Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Komsa, who was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2011 was responsible for revamping the agency’s Auxiliary Police Unit, recruiting 13 volunteers and implementing a rank structure. Additionally, Lt. Komsa was assigned to lead the Narcotics Enforcement Team in July of 2014, where his leadership was instrumental in combating the opiate epidemic.
Following the administration of the oath of office to Lt. Komsa, oaths were administered to Officer Patrick Morgan, Officer Antonio Ellis and Officer Paul Bachovchin.
Sgt. Morgan, who joined the Department in 2001 holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science Health and Physical Education from The College of New Jersey and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Sports Administration. During his career, Sgt. Morgan served as a part-time member of the agency’s Traffic Safety Section, having completed Crash Investigations and Motorcycle/Pedestrian Accident Investigation training. Additionally, Sgt. Morgan worked to make an impact on our local students, having served as a School Resource Officer, a D.A.R.E. Officer, and a G.R.E.A.T. Officer.
Sgt. Ellis, who joined the Department in 2000 holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Individualized Studies and Master’s Degree in Administrative Science. Prior to being promoted, Sgt. Ellis served as a full-time member of the Traffic Safety Section. He holds numerous traffic/crash investigation related certifications and was among the first in the State of New Jersey to receive the Traffic Safety Specialist Certification. Additionally, he is regarded by his peers in the Traffic Safety community as an expert in the field. For many years, he has been instrumental in maintaining the agency’s police fleet. Lastly, Sgt. Ellis proudly represents the Department as a member of the Honor Guard.
Sgt. Bachovchin, who joined the Department in 1999 holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Individualized Studies and Master’s Degree in Administrative Science. Sgt. Bachovchin has served as a part-time member of the agency’s Traffic Safety Section since 2005 and holds numerous specialized training certifications, many of which focus on crash investigations. During his career, he has served as Field Training Officer, a D.A.R.E. Officer, and as a member of both the Manchester and Ocean County Regional SWAT team. Since 2004, Sgt. Bachovchin has also served as the Department’s Chairman of the Municipal Alliance. Along with Sgt. Ellis, he is a member of the Honor Guard.
Mayor Palmer offered remarks and commended all of the officers who took their oaths. “I see people promoted here today with whom I went to high school. That speaks volumes about our town. If you graduate from Manchester, you find a way to give back,” said Mayor Palmer. “You can’t ask for better leadership than what we have here.”
Following the promotions, Ptl. Dill and Special Officer Reilly were administered their oaths by Mayor Palmer. Their hiring serves as the culmination of a long and arduous process which began in January of this year with an intense physical agility examination. This mentally and physically demanding portion of the examination, which started with approximately 230 individuals, was followed by a written examination and an oral board. After all three phases of the examination process was complete, the top candidates underwent a thorough background investigation and were required to successfully pass medical, psychological, and drug screenings.
Ptl. Dill, a Freehold Township resident, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Marist College, New York, where he was a member of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society. Following college, Ptl. Dill attended and successfully completed training at the Ocean County Police Academy. After graduation in 2015, he served as a Class II Officer in the Borough of Belmar and later as a Class II Officer in Old Bridge Township.
Special Officer Reilly, a Toms River resident, is currently attending Kean University in pursuit of a Criminal Justice degree. He completed his Associate’s degree at Ocean County College and Special Police Officer Training, Class 36, at the Ocean County Police Academy before being hired by the Seaside Heights Police Department as an SLEO II.
Officers Dill and Reilly will begin an intensive twelve week Field Training and Evaluation Program, during which time they will be instructed and mentored by several highly trained and seasoned officers. Upon successful completion of the FTO Program, these officers will be assigned to a patrol squad.
“This proud day would not be possible without the continued support of Mayor Palmer and the Township Council. I can say with sincerity and appreciation that their support makes all of this is possible,” said Chief Parker.
On November 23, 2016, at approximately 7:30 a.m., a Manchester Board of Education School Bus was impacted in the rear while stopped waiting to pick up students at a bus stop on Ridgeway Road (CR 571) approximately 270 feet east of Commonwealth Blvd. The crash occurred as the driver of a 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee, identified as Steven R. Tomasi, 35 years of age (Waretown) impacted the rear of the stopped school bus. The school bus was being operated by Kori Brennan, (age 25) of Lakehurst, and at the time of the crash there were 10 students on board as well as a school aid, who was identified as Theresa Schmidt (age 44) of Whiting.
Mr. Tomasi was not injured in the crash. Ms. Brennan was injured with a complaint of pain to her head and neck. Ms. Schmidt and one student, a 16 year old female, were injured with complaints of neck and back pain. All injured persons were transported to Community Medical Center. No other injuries were reported at the scene.
Assisting at the scene were: Quality Medical Transport, Priced Rite Towing, and the Manchester Township Board of Education. This crash is under investigation by Ptl. Yatauro and Cpl. Higgins of the Manchester Township Police Department’s Traffic Safety Section.
At approximately 3:37 p.m. on November 19, 2016, officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to County Route 547 in the Ridgeway Section of the Township to investigate a motor vehicle crash involving a SUV and a motorcycle. Upon arrival, officers observed a 1999, Chevrolet Suburban and a 2015, Harley Davidson Motorcycle in the roadway. The Harley Davidson was down on its right side in the right-hand lane of travel.
The initial investigation revealed that both the Harley Davidson and the Chevrolet Suburban were traveling southbound on Route 547 with the motorcycle traveling in the right-hand lane and the Chevrolet Suburban traveling in the left-hand lane. Both vehicles were approaching the intersection of Route 571, when the Suburban attempted to move into the right lane, impacting the motorcycle. The collision caused the Harley Davidson to go down on its right side in the roadway. The driver of the Suburban indicated to police that he was unable to see the motorcycle because of the presence of other vehicles which were traveling in the left lane in front of him obstructing his view.
The Suburban was being operated by 38-year-old, John Williams of Manchester, while the Harley Davidson was being operated by 64-year-old, Stanislaw Malek of Somerdale. As a result of the crash, Malek was treated at the scene by members of the Manchester Volunteer First Aid for complaint of knee pain but refused further treatment or transport to the hospital. Williams, the operator of the Suburban, was uninjured in the crash. The investigation determined that Williams was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash and Malek was wearing a properly approved Department of Transportation helmet. The crash is currently being investigated by Patrolman Michael Anderson of the Department’s Traffic Safety Unit.
An early morning crash on November 14, 2016, involving a Manchester Township school bus sent four individuals to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries on Monday morning. Officers responded to the Manchester Middle School after Tracey Schadewald, 45, of Manchester, struck the rear of a parked school bus with her 2013 Chrysler Town and Country minivan.
At approximately 7:53 a.m., officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to the Manchester Middle School on Ridgeway Road for the report of a motor vehicle crash involving a passenger vehicle and a school bus. Upon arrival, it was determined that Schadewald was exiting the student drop-off area when she struck the rear of a parked school bus with her 2013 Chrysler Town and Country minivan.
Although there were no students present on the bus at the time of the crash, the bus was occupied by three school employees. Schadewald, who suffered a leg injury, was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River by members of the Manchester Volunteer First Aid Squad. The school employees, Gail Serafin and Leslie D. Ruckert, both 62 and of Manchester, along with Marisa Curran, 52, of Toms River, suffered non-life threatening injuries and were also transported to Community Medical Center by Quality Medical Transport for evaluation and treatment. The crash is being investigated by Cpl. Douglas Higgins of the Department’s Traffic Safety Unit.
A five-vehicle chain-reaction crash on Friday morning, November 4, 2016, snarled traffic on Route 70 near the intersection of Green Acres Road, in the eastern section of the township.
At approximately 11:17 a.m., officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to the intersection of State Highway 70 and Green Acres Road for the report of a multi-vehicle chain reaction crash involving five vehicles. Upon arrival, officers learned that 22 year-old, Brienna Hubbs, of Forked River was operating a 2015, Ford Fleet Wagon, owned by The Regency Memory Care Club of Toms River, westbound on Route 70, when she struck the rear of a 2016 Chevy Impala, being operated by 84-year-old, Joseph Giammarino, of Toms River, which was stopped in traffic for a red light.
The impact began a chain reaction crash that pushed his vehicle into the rear of a 2016 Chevy Equinox being operated by Robert Vaughn of Toms River. His vehicle was then pushed into the rear of a 2016, Toyota Corolla being operated by, 19-year-old, Jovie Bandoy. Her vehicle was then pushed into the rear of a 1998, Jeep being operated by Kathleen Carpenter. Four passengers from the Ford Fleet wagon; 91-year-old, Irene DiGenno, 73-year-old, Kenneth Zaentz, 87-year-old, Geraldine Rinaldi and 80-year-old Patricia Hazard were transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River for treatment of minor injuries. Additionally, Joseph Giammarino was transported to Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood for minor injuries sustained in the crash. The remaining four drivers and their three passengers refused medical treatment at the scene.
Assisting at the scene were members of the Manchester Volunteer First Aid Squad and members of Quality Medical Transport. The crash is being investigated by Ptl. Thomas O’Hare of the Department’s Traffic Safety Unit.
On August 28, 2016, Manchester Township Police Officer Mark Micciulla took a report involving the theft of a credit card as well as its fraudulent use at four separate locations in and around Manchester Township. These unauthorized fraudulent charges took place at the Manchester ShopRite, Hall’s Gulf Service Station, Lakehurst Dunkin Donuts, and Wawa in Toms River.
While conducting the initial investigation, Patrolman Micciulla was able to obtain video surveillance from one of the businesses were the credit card was fraudulently used. A review of the video surveillance revealed the suspect’s image. The case was then assigned to Detective Guker for follow-up investigation during which time he was able to identify the suspect as, 37-year-old, Irene Holguin, of Pines Street in the Borough of Lakehurst.
On October 25, 2016, Detective Guker arrested Holguin and charged her with theft of a credit card, fraudulent use of a credit card, forgery, and identity theft. She was processed on the charges and released pending a court appearance.
On October 27, 2016, at approximately 9:35 p.m., members of the Manchester Township Police Patrol Bureau responded to multiple reports of gun shots in the area of the 2500 block of Kent Road in the Whitney Estates section of Manchester Township.
Upon the arrival of patrol officers, it was learned that an unknown person(s) fire multiple rounds from the street at a residence on Kent Road. Although several of the rounds penetrated the occupied residence, no one was injured.
A neighborhood canvas which included the use of a Manchester Police K-9 Unit was conducted. As a result of the incident, the street was closed off for several hours while members of the Manchester Township Police Investigations Bureau and the Ocean County Crime Scene Investigations Unit conducted an investigation.
Police are asking anyone who may have seen any suspicious person(s) or vehicles in the area leading up to the shooting to contact Detective Adam Guker at 732-657-2009, ext. 4210.
Manchester Township and Police Department officials are proud to recognize the money-saving efforts of our Emergency Responders, most notably the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company for their recent success in securing more than three quarters of a million dollars in federal grant funding.
While attending a New Jersey League of Municipalities seminar on grant funding for disasters, Township Emergency Management Coordinator, Arthur Abline, learned that 87 percent of agencies that apply for FEMA’s Assistance for Firefighter Grant do not get awarded any money. Despite the dauntingly high percentage of rejected grant applications, the Ridgeway Fire Company has had two consecutive years in which they were awarded funding. The total monies awarded to them totaled more than $750,000, which included money used to purchase a new fire truck.
“The officials at Ridgeway Fire Company, led by Chief Michael Trimarchi, should be proud of their efforts in securing crucial funding through the Assistance for Firefighter Grant program. Their decision to retain the services of a top-notch grant writing firm to assist them with the process has benefitted both the residents of the Township and the emergency responders from Ridgeway Fire Company,” said Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, Lisa Parker. “I would like to congratulate the fire company and their grant writer for their professionalism in securing this important grant funding.”
According to Coordinator Abline, the first step in securing a grant under this program is the electronic scanning of the submission. During the scanning process, documents are strictly reviewed by a computer and any part of the grant paperwork that is not correctly filled out or is missing information results in an automatic rejection. After this strict and highly critical review, only 13 percent of all submitted grants get funded. As for fire trucks, less than 2 percent of all such grant requests are funded.
“On behalf of Manchester Township, we are incredibly thankful for Ridgeway Fire Company’s dedicated service and initiative. Their efforts have saved the town almost $800,000 in the last two years,” said Mayor Kenneth Palmer. “We cannot thank them enough for their strong commitment to saving the tax payers of Manchester money.”
The Manchester Township Police are pleased to welcome Pastor Robert Clark as the Department’s second Police Chaplain, expanding an important program in which highly trained clergy assist officers and the community during times of need.
Pastor Clark joins Rev. James Davis, who has served as the Manchester Township Police Chaplain since November of 2011, in this important volunteer role. The duties of the Police Chaplain include helping officers make death notifications, assisting with critical incident response, and mitigating the stress families deal with during difficult times. Police Chaplains may also provide services for ceremonies, funerals or any other special event.
“The role of the Police Chaplain is critical to our officers and our residents, as they are often called upon to handle sensitive and difficult tasks. I’m proud that Pastor Clark has joined us to offer his experience, training and expertise to our community,” said Chief Lisa Parker.
Pastor Clark currently serves at the Building on the Rock Church located on Beckerville Road and is an instructor for Lincoln Tech at the Fort Dix Prison. He is a certified Disaster Response Crisis Counselor (Department of Homeland Security) who studied Christian Ministry at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia and received his Bible Certification from Crown College in Minnesota. Pastor Clark, who also previously served the United Way of Ocean County, came highly recommended to join the Manchester Police Chaplaincy and passed a thorough background check before his appointment in September.
“The Police Department is so much more than just providing protection, it’s also serving,” said Pastor Clark. “For me, the position of Police Chaplain is about doing whatever I can to help the officers perform their duties and ensure that their emotional well-being is cared for. Being a police officer is an admirable calling, so I really feel the call to help out the department as much as I can.”
Police Chaplains are respectful of the fact that they interact with community members of many different faiths. Although they are faith-based individuals, Police Chaplains subscribe to no denomination when providing counseling and other services. As such, they are a crucial asset for law enforcement during critical incidents, as they bring comfort, assistance and resources to any officer and/or resident regardless of their faith. Residents can rest assured that communications with Police Chaplains remain confidential, except when it pertains to the endangerment of persons, any criminal acts and/or suicide.
“I’m really looking forward to working alongside with the Manchester Township Police Department to form a bond of trust with both the officers and the community,” said Pastor Clark.
On Saturday morning, October 22, 2016, at approximately 6:53 a.m., officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to 45 Fox Street in the Pine Ridge section of the Township for the report of a possible structure fire. Upon the arrival, officers observed heavy smoke and flames coming from the rear of the single family residence.
Shortly thereafter, the responding officers determined that the residence was unoccupied as everyone had already evacuated the home safely prior to their arrival. The Whiting Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene and quickly extinguished the fire and ventilated the residence to help clear the smoke out. Firefighters were also able to locate the family’s pet cat which was trapped in the residence and removed it before it suffered any injuries. Members of Quality First Aid, who had also responded to the scene, evaluated the homeowners for injuries. After being evaluated, they were reunited with their cat and released after refusing additional medical treatment.
Manchester Township Building Inspector Gary Loftus responded to the scene and determined that the residence was uninhabitable. As a result, the displaced homeowners went to stay with family.
The exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined, though it appears to have started in the area of the furnace and water heater and likewise appears to be accidental in nature. It remains under investigation by Ocean County Fire Marshall’s Office.