Veteran cop named new police chief in Monroe

Staff Writer

By lynn k. barra

MONROE — George Doerfler officially became the township’s new chief of police this week, replacing Chief Richard Garvey, who retired after working for the township’s police department since 1968.

Doerfler is no stranger to the 40-member department since he, like Garvey, has long been a member of the force and is the highest ranking officer in the department. Doerfler served as police captain prior to being appointed chief by Mayor Richard Pucci at a meeting on Monday.

"We worked pretty closely together," Doerfler said of the previous chief. "I worked with him for 29 years."

Garvey became a member of the police force in 1968, while Doerfler came on board in June 1972 as a dispatcher and special police officer.

"A special police officer is like a part-time police officer," Doerfler said of the position he held for one year before deciding to leave the force to become a firefighter.

"In 1973, I joined Hamilton Township Fire District No. 9 as a firefighter," Doerfler said. "Then I came back to the Monroe Police Department."

When Doerfler decided he did not want to pursue firefighting as a career, he returned to his former position as dispatcher and special police officer. Within a few years, Doerfler became a full-time officer.

"When I became a sworn police officer in 1978, I went to the State Police Academy (in Sea Girt) for 11 weeks," Doerfler said. The program has since been increased to 21 weeks.

"When Chief Garvey went to an academy, I believe he was only required to be trained for eight weeks," Doerfler said. "We were limited in where we could get trained, too. Now we send recruits to [a police academy] in Somerset County."

Doerfler didn’t take long to work his way up the ranks. In 1980, he joined the detective bureau where he was assigned to work on many different types of cases — a couple of which he still remembers vividly.

"When I was in the detective bureau," Doerfler said, "I was the crime scene investigator for a homicide. Reginald Muse, who was from Freehold, was found dead from a gunshot wound. He was found in a wooded area.

"We eventually caught the man who killed him," Doerfler recalled, "but by that time the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office took over the case."

Another homicide involved a teen-age girl who, Doerfler said, murdered her grandmother when she learned her grandmother had divulged a secret to the girl’s mother.

"[The] juvenile took her mother’s car out for a ride without permission," Doerfler said. "Her grandmother told the mom, and the girl got punished. She was mad at her grandmother for telling her mother so she stabbed her grandmother 40 times."

Doerfler said that while the juvenile called the killing into police and claimed a burglar broke into the home and killed the grandmother, Doerfler and other detectives on the scene believed that the girl was being dishonest.

"She was trying to conceal blood on her pants by rolling them up," Doerfler said, noting a popular fashion trend in the 1980s where teen-agers rolled up their pants. "One of the officers noticed traces of blood on the rolled up pants. I noticed a small amount of blood on the back of her pants when she walked into another room to change her shoes."

The juvenile, Doerfler said, was remanded to a female detention center, and although he does not recall the number of years she was incarcerated, he said she has since been released.

Such high-profile murder cases are rare for Monroe which, according to Doerfler, has one of the lowest crime rates in Middlesex County.

"If I had to pick one type of crime," Doerfler said, "it would be burglaries, but we don’t have that many. We don’t have a problem with crime in Monroe."

The 52-year-old police chief, who has lived in Trenton from the start of his career with the township’s police force, said that one of his main goals is to continue to provide the kinds of police services residents have come to expect.

"My goals and plans are to continue with the fine service we’ve offered the community," Doerfler said. "I want to grow with the community."