The Barnegat Police Department opened its doors as a full-time police department on July 3rd, 1973 with a complement 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. Chief Smith would build the framework of the police department from the ground up as the population of the township exploded over the next several decades. Chief Smith would retire in late 2004 after serving Barnegat Township for nearly 30 years. He is the longest serving Chief of Police in the history of the agency.
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 started the Detective Bureau within the Barnegat Police Department as the first detective and created many of the processes and procedures still in place today. With his appointment as Chief, 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 and was the driving force behind the professionalization of the police department through the pursuit of accreditation.
In December of 2006, Arthur P. Drexler was appointed Chief of Police. Drexler’s tenure saw the achievement of CALEA International Accreditation and the transition to a community policing philosophy.
On February 1, 2017, Richard J. Dugan became Chief of Police in his 30th year of service. Chief Dugan served in many roles throughout his career including Patrol Sergeant, lead firearms instructor, Patrol Division Commander, and Operations Commander. Dugan headed the Professional Standards Unit and was responsible for modernizing the agency’s approach to professional accountability.
On February 1, 2018, Keith A. Germain became the agency’s 6th Chief of Police. Chief Germain was born and raised in Barnegat Township and is a product of the outstanding Barnegat Township School District.
Keith joined the agency in 1994 and has held virtually every position in the agency during his career. He has served as a dispatcher, Class II Special Officer, patrol officer, detective, founding member of the Narcotics Unit, founding member of the Barnegat SWAT Team, SWAT Team Commander, Administrative Services Division Commander, Patrol Division Commander, and Executive Officer of the agency. He has also served as the agency’s Media Relations Officer and has been an instructor at the Ocean County Police Academy since 2000, winning the Instructor of the Year Award three (3) times.
Keith has held command positions at innumerable critical incidents from large-scale wildfires to Superstorm Sandy. He has overseen multi-jurisdictional responses and served as incident commander during hurricanes, floods, severe storms, and wildfires, and has managed the evacuation and repopulation of thousands of Barnegat residents.
Keith was the agencies first Accreditation Manager and oversaw the successful completion of State Accreditation in 2008, CALEA International Accreditation in 2011, and CALEA Re-Accreditation in 2014. In his role as Accreditation Manager, Keith wrote over 140 of the agency’s standard operating procedures. Keith became a certified accreditation assessor for the State Accreditation program in 2008 and is also an Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) certified assessor.
Keith was the architect of the agency’s modernized patrol schedule as well as the comprehensive training program, both of which began in 2004 and remain in place today.
Keith holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Thomas Edison State University and has completed more than half of the credits for his Master’s in Administrative Science degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.