Major will become chief of police in Tinton Falls

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — You can call him chief — in a few weeks.

After nearly five years of heading the borough’s police department as Major Turning, Gerald Turning Sr. will become Chief Turning with the turn of the New Year.

The decision to impose a change in title came after officials passed an ordinance at the Dec. 2 Borough Council meeting bringing back the chief title to the borough. The title was done away with in 1994.

The ordinance was crafted to enact the change after "the PBA [Policemen’s Benevolent Association] approached the mayor [Ann McNamara] and business administrator (Anthony Muscillo), told them the pros and cons of officially making me chief," Turning said. "The pros outweighed the cons and they wholeheartedly supported the idea."

The primary reason the major will now be a chief: the 24-year veteran of the force has been doing the job anyway.

In his tenure as major, Turning has supervised all aspects of the 39-member police department, an all-encompassing job that was intended with the 1994 elimination of chief, for the administrator. Initially, the commanding officer of the police department was charged with just managing the daily operations of the department.

The administrator was to handle all other long-term and more involved administrative aspects of running the department.

However, as Turning became immersed in the job as commanding officer, his responsibilities grew to encompass completely running the department in the short and long terms. So, the title swap is nothing more than a name change to Turning.

"It’s just exchanging one five-letter title for another," Turning said. "I don’t have to explain to people what I do anymore, either. When you say you’re a major, people always ask you to explain exactly what that entails. Everyone knows what a chief of police is and does, even though I’m really going to be doing the same thing I’ve always done as a major. Officially, though, as a chief I will be a member of the state Chiefs of Police Association, which will allow me to have active input in decisions and policy making within the police field."

Originally, the borough’s intent in getting rid of the police chief position was to save money. When the last chief before Turning, Wayne White, retired, the position was eliminated. The elimination was purported to save the town about $90,000 a year. However, Turning said, with the growth of the department over the years, the savings ended up being a wash. Someone had to run the department, officers naturally rose in the ranks and personnel was added to accommodate a growing municipality.

"There was a savings realized in the first year and that was about it," Turning said. In the past five years about eight officers have been added to the police department.

Turning, who is 50, will continue to be paid the same salary, $108,000 a year, when the change goes into effect Jan. 1.

Until then, he will not change his voice mail message identifying himself as Maj. Gerald Turning. Even after, "I won’t even change my office. I’ll be in the same spot doing the same thing as chief," he said.