2011-09-28 / Front Page
Roberts takes reins of Freehold police
Roberts, 50, took the oath of office with his wife and two daughters by his side and in the presence of a packed room of well-wishers, including his fellow police officers and former Freehold Borough police chiefs, and area law enforcement personnel.
“This is an honor and a responsibility I take very seriously,” Roberts said.
He thanked the mayor and council members for “their confidence and faith in me to do the job.” He acknowledged his fellow officers and said that without them he “couldn’t do the job.”
Roberts thanked the Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association and the New Jersey StateAssociation of Chiefs of Police for their guidance and help when he was named the police department’s officer in charge in the absence of former chief Mitch Roth.
Roberts said one of his goals as chief is to continue to provide the best service possible to the community and to strengthen the relationships between the police department and the community.
Mayor Michael Wilson congratulated Roberts on his promotion and said, “We have the utmost confidence in you and wish you well. It is not an easy job, but we know you are up to it.”
Former Freehold Borough police chiefs in attendance were Roth, Michael Beierschmitt andWilliam Burlew.
Freehold Township Police Chief Ernest Schriefer was also in attendance, as were a number of other police chiefs from surrounding towns and other law enforcement agencies.
Councilman Michael DiBenedetto said the council could have gone in a different direction and hired a civilian public safety director after Roth retired in April.
“I’m glad we went with the chief (Roberts). I am 100 percent behind him and I know he will do a great job,” DiBenedetto said .
Councilman Kevin Kane said Roberts is doing a “tremendous job” and said the promotion was well deserved.
Roberts, a native of Matawan, said that when he was growing up, his mother and his sister told him he should be a cop.
“I always wanted to (become a police officer) and I thought about it a lot,” said Roberts, who previously worked in the real estate field and as a financial consultant. “One day I finally stopped thinking about becoming a police officer and just did it.”
His career in the Freehold Borough Police Department began in 1994. He was promoted to sergeant in May 2002 and to lieutenant in May 2009.
Roberts began running the department in June 2010 in Roth’s absence and he was appointed Officer in Charge by the council in April after Roth retired.
When Roberts came to Freehold Borough 17 years ago there was a small, but growing community of Spanish speaking residents, but there were no police officers who spoke Spanish.
Roberts and Sgt. Andrew DeMuth took on the task of trying to help that population assimilate into the community and learn the culture of America.
“Hispanic Affairs (officials) were helpful in many ways and we tried to teach (newcomers to the borough) the do’s and don’ts of our culture here,” Roberts said.
Today the 28-member police department has several officers who speak Spanish. The police department’s budget for 2011 is $3.54 million.
Freehold Borough resident Frank Argote Freyre, the director of the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, said Roberts “is a good fellow.”
“I often met with him and Chief Roth to deal with issues of concern to the Latino community,” Argote-Freyre said. “We are hoping to continue our good relationship with him.”
Roberts said his goals for his first year as police chief include “getting back to basics,” which means getting out into the community and meeting community leaders and business owners, and reinforcing the connection between the community and the police department.
Roberts holds degrees in criminal justice and business administration. The new chief is currently taking executive training leadership courses.