The Barnegat Police Department opened its doors as a full-time police department on July 3rd, 1973 with a compliment of three officers. Heading the first department was Chief William Brazzel. Chief Brazzel worked for 12 years with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C. before coming to Barnegat. The first police department was located on West Bay Avenue near Route 9 on the second floor of what was then the municipal building. That building was originally constructed in 1910 as Barnegat’s first Post Office.
By 1977, the town’s population had grown to 8,000 and the department had grown to eight patrolmen, two lieutenants, a captain, and a detective. In 1979, Edward Smith, a veteran of the Woodbridge police department was appointed Chief of Police. In 1981, the department moved to its current location at 900 West Bay Avenue. Other than a small addition, the building that housed the department’s 14 officers in 1981 is the same one that houses the 44 officers who work for the department today.
In 2002, Sarah Girgenti was hired as the department’s first female officer. The next two years saw the addition of three more female officers giving the department the highest percentage of female officers in Ocean County.
In 2005, Joseph Manger was appointed Chief of Police. Manger was also a Woodbridge veteran before joining the Barnegat force in 1975. Manger represented the first change in leadership for the department in over two decades. Manger engineered the first major restructuring of the department’s organizational structure since its inception.
In December of 2006, Arthur P. Drexler, a lifelong resident of Barnegat Township and a 20 year veteran of the force was appointed Chief of Police. In the short time he has been Chief the department has undergone significant modernizations to include the creation of a Traffic Safety Unit, the completion of state accreditation and national accreditation, the expansion of the school resource officer program, and the transition to intelligence led policing. His philosophy of strong community/police relations has resulted in a marked shift in organizational direction along with the largest addition of community policing programs in the department’s history.