The History of the
Woodbury Police Department
In October of 1876, the City Council of Woodbury passed an ordinance, which stated “An ordinance to establish a city Police Force, to regulate and define the manner of their appointment and removal, their duties and compensation.” The ordinance further stated that the council “shall have power, at its discretion, to appoint, not exceeding six policeman.” The salary at the time was $1.50 for each ten hours of actual service. The Committee on Vice and Immorality oversaw the policemen.
In November of 1876, William R. Dopson and Henry Fitz were appointed the first policemen of the City of Woodbury and sworn in by the city clerk. They were not given uniforms. However, the Committee on Vice and Immorality purchased two sets of belts, two billies and two stars for the two officers for a total cost of $7.00.
In 1900 John Geitz and Harrison J. DuBois were elected policemen by the council, at an increased salary of $50.00 per month. William McDevitt joined the force in about 1903.
At about this time a standardized uniform was proposed. “A blue uniform with blue caps with one row of buttons would be used by policemen and purchased at their own expense.” The Council agreed to pay for the revolvers and lanterns used by the policemen and that they would remain the property of the city.
In the summer of 1908 Mayor Ladd was authorized “to purchase a pair of bloodhounds to be used in the detection of that class of criminals who prey upon women.”
In 1915 a bicycle “not to exceed in cost $35.00” was purchased. The first bicycle officer was Clarence L. Redfield who became a familiar sight making his rounds around the City. It is reported that Redfield even made his rounds on ice skates during severe winters when the dirt road streets became ice covered. At this time, the office of the Police Department was located in a second floor room above a real estate agency on Cooper Street.
In 1917 the Woodbury Police Department had four patrolmen who received $80.00 per month and they worked alternate shifts of 10 hours each, six days a week. Police call boxes were installed on utility poles throughout the City.
In 1921 City Council moved and passed “that a Ford auto be purchased for the use of the Police Department.” This first police car was a Model T Ford Touring Car with a roof that folded back and side – curtains with isinglass windows that could be snapped in place.
In 1928 Herman L. Peters joined the police department and became its eighth member. The officers were working 10 hours a day, six days a week. The City was now furnishing each policeman with a uniform.
The Police Station had moved to the first door in back of the Friendship Fire House on Russell Street and consisted of one room. Each ward had a policeman on duty all night long and he would walk the streets for 10 hours.
In the spring 1929 an ordinance was passed creating the office of Chief of Police, two sergeants posts and the position of police recorder. In addition to their regular salary the sergeants were given an increase of $150.00 per year and the Chief of Police received an additional $300.00 per year. The first Police Chief was Burton J. Magee followed by James A. Lynch, George Carey, Herman L. Peters, Emerson Goldy, Ralph M. Braithwood, F. Dean Kimmel, Craig W. Hoelbinger, Karl J. Kinkler, Reed A. Merinuk and the present Chief Thomas R. Ryan.
The Woodbury Police Department today consists of a Chief of Police, A Captain of Police, one Lieutenant, five Police Sergeants, three Detectives, seventeen Patrolmen, four Special Police Officers, one Evidence Custodian, one Secretary and one Records Clerk. The Police call boxes have been replaced with state of the art two-way radios and a comprehensive computer system. Officers today patrol the streets of the City mostly in Dodge Durango and Charger police vehicles. The Police Department also uses some special duty vehicles, which include to this day, the use of bicycle patrols. The department patrols a city of 2.1 square miles that has a diverse population of just over 10,000 residents. Being the county seat of Gloucester County, the City is home to county court houses, the Gloucester County Prosecutors Office and Inspira Medical Center. Woodbury also has its’ own school system, which consists of Woodbury SR/JR High School and three elementary schools. The police department has a patrol officer assigned as a School Resource Officer (SRO) to act as a liaison to all of the schools. Woodbury City Police Department is also an Accredited Police Agency, recognized by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) through continuing to exhibit best practices in modern policing through its’ members professional and commitment to service of the community it serves.