MESSAGE FROM THE GLOUCESTER COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE
June 21, 2017
On April 2, 1968 the Woolwich Township Police Department (WTPD) was established. Chief Thomas Feldman reported for duty and responded to the first recorded incident, a fatal motor vehicle accident at routes 538 and 322.
Equipped with a radio and a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, Chief Feldman worked alone for the next five days until David Stecher joined the force as a part time officer. Soon to follow would be Ugo Canzanese, Albert Stecher, Jr. and Sam Zappala. These five men worked out of what is now the Court Administrator’s Office patrolling Woolwich in a 1963 Ford.
When asked how they rotated shifts Dave Stecher laughs, "Chief Feldman worked eighty percent of the time and I worked the other twenty. There were a lot of drunk and disorderly calls and assaults. I also remember responding to a homicide." Dave recalls the department receiving two bullet proof vests around 1978. "Before that we wore street clothes. We were on duty basically twenty-four hours a day and we shared equipment."
Before becoming the current Chief of Police in Woolwich, Russ Marino also worked as an officer between 1977 and 1985 then returning from 1986 to 87. He recalls the department switching to 12-hour shifts during this time. "The officers carried Smith & Wesson .357’s and patrolled the Township in Chevrolet Impalas."
"I remember a lot of motor vehicle accidents," recalls Marino, "some burglaries and domestic violence cases. Mantua Police Department dispatched all of our calls. You had to dial a seven digit phone number."
Each officer carries a portable two-way radio and is equipped with the necessary safety equipment needed to perform their job. In 1998 the department received an anonymous donation of a Medical Defibrillator, a device used in certain medical emergencies. Currently, seven of the Officers are certified in its use.
In January 2000, Gloucester County began dispatching the department and residents can now dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. Previously, a seven-digit phone number had to be used to reach police dispatch.
During the last forty years the WTPD has evolved to meet the demands of a growing Township. The Deparment is now made up of 20 full-time sworn officers who work 12 hour shifts 24/7. These Officers continuously strive to meet the demands of an ever changing profession within an ever changing community. As always, the well-being of the Township Residents is a priority to these officers and keeping up with the growth is a responsibility they take seriously.