LAKEHURST – There’s a new chief in the borough and his name is Matt Kline. Surrounded by family, friends and fellow officers, Kline was sworn into office during a recent Borough Council meeting.
Kline isn’t a new face however. He has been with the Lakehurst Police Department since April 2004. He is married with two children.
Kline was sworn in by Borough Attorney Ian M. Goldman. Mayor Harry Robbins and the members of council along with audience attendees loudly applauded afterwards. He took over as chief from Eric Higgins who retired last month and who Kline thanked in his speech that followed his oath of office.
Prior to his taking the oath, Kline said, “I started off as a special officer here 16 years ago. I don’t want to make too many changes in my first year. We did promote Sgt. Jason Guide who filled my position.”
The department is looking at the rank of lieutenant which is vacant. “There is no talks of having a lieutenant at this time.”
Lakehurst’s police department serves a community of more than 2,500 residents and responds to around 11,000 calls for service each year. Officers respond to medical issues, traffic accidents, domestics, neighbor disputes, property crimes, and general calls for assistance.
Members of the police department received a high honor in December 2019 when it received a certificate of accreditation from the New Jersey State Chiefs Association. Higgins received the certification during a Council meeting and received congratulations from the governing body.
Accredited status represents a significant professional achievement and acknowledges the implementation of policies and procedures that are conceptually sound and operationally effective, according to the NJ State Chiefs Association.
“We renew our accreditation every three years and that is something we will be maintaining,” Kline said.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer came out to congratulate the department last December when it received that accreditation noting that his office had worked hard to receive that same status. Billhimer returned to watch the new chief take his oath of office and joined the new chief and members of the department for a group photo during the evening.
Kline’s 5-year-old daughter Katelyn held the bible during the ceremony. He was joined by his wife Amanda and his other daughter, MacKenzie who is a year old. His parents Judy and William pinned on his badge while his wife presented him with his bars. His twin brother Bill, sisters Jennifer and Adrianne and other family members were also present.
“I am excited for this new chapter in my career. You made my position as chief a very smooth transition and I thank you for that chief (he said to Higgins). In addition, I’d like to thank my mother and father who provided me the roots of responsibility and independence and I’d like to thank my wife for continuing to put up with me during the testing process in the last six months. I would not be here today if not for you and my beautiful girls,” Kline said.
The chief added, “to the men and women of the Lakehurst Police Department, thank you for all you do day in and day out in the community. Each and every one of you do an excellent job and I am honored and proud to be your police chief. Thank you for your support during this transition. I am truly honored and proud to be the Lakehurst police chief.”