By DON STINE
James M. Hunt Jr., a 20-year police veteran, was sworn as the new Neptune Police Chief by the Township Committee last week. He has run the police department as deputy chief since June, 2013.
“Under his leadership, this department has maintained its position as a highly professional and highly respected police department which has continually adapted and improved based upon the ever-changing world in which we live,” said Chief Financial Officer Michael Bascom.
In addition to appointing Hunt, Bascom was also appointed the civilian police director. Hunt will run the day-to-day operations of the police department while Bascom will handle administrative functions of the department.
Neptune’s new arrangement for the police department, with both a chief and police director, is the only one of its kind in Monmouth County.
Bascom, who will receive no additional stipend for taking on his new role, has been the acting-civilian police director since former Police Chief Robert Adams retired more than a year ago.
“There has always been some type of civilian review over the police department in Neptune,” he said.
Township Attorney Gene Anthony recently said state law allows the civilian police director to develop criteria and provide oversight for the police department but without involvement in the department’s day-to-day operations.
Hunt said he was “humbled” by being appointed chief and seeing a standing-room-only crowd of friends and supporters when he was sworn in on Thursday, Sept. 4.
“I thank the mayor and township committee for having confidence in me and I will work closely with Mike Bascom. I am looking forward to greatness here,” he said.
And the governing body was in full support of their decision.
“For the last 17 months we have looked for Hunt to lead the police department and I am happy with the results,” said Township Committeeman Eric Houghtaling, who is the police commissioner.
“He will lead it into the future and make the Neptune police department all it can be- and the Township Committee will help get this done,” he said.
“You have done an outstanding job with the department and are the person to lead us forward- and I have full faith in you,” Deputy Mayor Mary Beth Jahn said.
Hunt has served as a supervisor of sworn officers for the past 14 years. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Drug Unit Commander’s School and a Neptune High School graduate.