MANCHESTER – When she became police chief in March of 2015, Lisa Parker called the Township Police Department “one of the most well-regarded law enforcement agencies in the state of New Jersey.”
Now that department is in the hands of new leadership. Robert “Bobby” Dolan was sworn in as the township’s newest chief on July 1.
Passing The Torch
Former Mayor Ken Palmer, who took office as mayor just a few months prior to Parker in March 2015 said recently that Parker left the township “a better place.”
Parker told The Manchester Times prior to that ceremony that within one month of her tenure as chief she had an officer die in the line of duty and she ended her time as chief with a global pandemic. “In between that was a lot of projects and a lot of amazing experiences with the people I worked with.”
She said it will now “be nice to sit back and watch them do great things. Robert will always be Bobby to me. We’ve worked well together. We spent many years in the detective bureau together. We worked a lot of cases together. We worked patrol together so we’ve kind of come up through the ranks through the years.”
“I think he’ll do a great job,” Parker said. “He is a devoted family man, hardworking, extremely smart and forward-thinking officer who will do a phenomenal job.”
Dolan has been a member of the 74-member Manchester Police Department for 29 years, only a few years shy of Parker’s 32 years with the force.
Dolan is the township’s seventh chief of police. He took the oath of office from recently sworn in Mayor Robert Hudak. The promotional ceremony was held at the Municipal Complex Courtroom.
He began his career with the Manchester Township Police Department in 1993 as a dispatcher and was hired as a full time Officer in 1994. He has served in numerous positions throughout the Police Department including detective, Patrol Sergeant, lieutenant supervising the Administrative Services Bureau, and captain overseeing the Division of Emergency Services.
After taking his oath, Chief Dolan thanked his family, friends, Mayor Hudak, and the Township Council for all of their support and confidence. “The trust the public has put in me weighs on me heavily. I promise I will not disappoint you,” Chief Dolan said.
Among his major accomplishments, in 2016 Dolan managed the Spillman project, implementing a new Computer Aided Dispatch and Record Management System. As a Captain, he was instrumental in the creation of the Emergency Services Division, which launched in March of 2020 and included the rehabilitation of two EMS Buildings, the hiring of EMS Director Robert Baran and a group of qualified EMTs, and purchasing and up-fitting ambulances and other equipment.
The Division grew this year with the addition of career firefighters, which entailed a hiring process and the procurement of a fire truck and other critical firefighting equipment.
Dolan is expected to retain an intensive physical and mental training program which was started by Parker when she became chief. She grew up as the daughter of Stafford Police Chief Larry Parker Sr. who served in that role for more than two decades. She brought many of his programs and standards to her department as part of the hiring process for new officers
Training in the department has had a strong focus on de-escalation of situations to avoid the use of deadly force. Parker also revised the department’s Field Training Program for new officers and introduced a mentoring training program for newly promoted sergeants.
The department also has a Special Needs Identification program; the 911eye program, where 911 callers can allow township officers to link up through their smartphone cameras allowing police to observe what is happening at a scene.
Other programs include the Ring Doorbell neighborhood crime prevention program, and re-accreditation through the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police.
As part of his duties as chief, Dolan will oversee the Division of Emergency Services which was launched last year by the township.
The township now has a career fire department to supplement response calls by Manchester’s volunteer fire companies. Dolan said, “The volunteer firefighters give a lot but unfortunately volunteerism is down. Our start date that Chief Parker wanted (for the career fire department) was July 1. They will be located at the EMS building for the time being. We have one truck available and that truck is available to go anywhere at any time.”
Promotions, New Assignments
Several officers took oaths of office during the ceremony. They included Lt. Vincent Manco, who began his career with the Manchester Police Department in May of 1999 as a patrol officer. He was promoted to Captain. He has served in numerous positions throughout the Police Department including detective, Field Training Officer, Firearms Instructor, Ocean County Regional SWAT Team member, Patrol Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant, and Investigations Bureau Lieutenant.
In his previous assignment as lieutenant, Manco was assigned to the Administrative Services Bureau. He is the first member in the history of the Manchester Police Department to attend and graduate from the prestigious 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He has received over 20 awards, including the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest award.
Promoted to lieutenant was Sgt. Antonio Ellis, an expert in the field of Traffic Safety who has served with the Manchester Township Police Department since 2000. He played an instrumental role in the upkeep and modernization of the department’s vehicle fleet. Lt. Ellis has completed several prestigious trainings, having earned the FBI-LEEDA Trilogy Award, which includes the Supervisory Leadership Institute, Command Leadership Institute and Executive Leadership Institute.
Detective Christian Nazario was promoted to sergeant. Since joining the department in 2007 he has served in many roles, including Police Explorer Advisor, Auxiliary Advisory, and Field Training Officer. As a Narcotics Enforcement Team Detective, he was Team Leader for multiple operations including a wiretap that was the largest drug investigation in Ocean County.
Another promotion was for Detective Danny Barker, who has been with the Manchester Township Police Department since 2008. He was promoted to sergeant and has been a member of the Investigations Bureau as a detective since 2013.
Barker served as Lead Evidence Custodian, Megan’s Law Liaison, and Firearms Instructor. He also has served as Platoon Leader of the North Platoon for the Ocean County Regional SWAT Team since 2018.
Patrolman Michael Gardner was sworn in as a full-time officer. He had initially been hired by the department in 2019, but resigned in 2020 to pursue another law enforcement opportunity. Gardner was an exemplary officer during his initial employment and his return to service with Township Police Department was welcomed by both the Police Department and Township administration.
Receiving lateral assignments to the Investigations Bureau were patrol officers Richard Conklin and Victoria Raub. A recipient of a Community Policing Certification, Detective Conklin previously served in the department’s Community Affairs Unit. He has also served as a Field Training Officer, GREAT Instructor, and DARE Instructor. Detective Raub most recently served as School Resource Officer and Juvenile Liaison Officer, an important role where she built positive relationships with juveniles. She also taught the department’s #NotEvenOnce program and served as a Youth Academy Instructor.
The ceremony concluded with two corporals’ designations presented in recognition of many years of exemplary service as Manchester Police officers. The designation, proposed by the first Manchester Police recipient of the honor, the late Cpl. Scott Thompson, was introduced in 2016 and recognizes veteran officers with 20 or more years of service who consistently exhibit outstanding commitment to their department and profession.
Receiving the designations were Cpl. Christopher Walaszek, who has served in patrol since 1999 and acts as the department’s Law Enforcement Support Office liaison, and Cpl. Brian Collins, who has served in patrol since 2000, and who streamlined the prosecutorial process as the Manchester Municipal Court liaison.