Barnegat Police Chief Retiring After Nearly 30 Years

Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain’s retirement was approved for May 1. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  BARNEGAT – After nearly three decades with the local law enforcement agency, Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain will be hanging up his badge on May 1. This marks the first time in Germain’s life that he won’t be either living or working in the town he’s called home.

  Germain, 50, started as a young officer just shy of his 21st birthday and rose through the ranks to become chief in 2018. He plans to take off his first three weeks in actual retirement, before transitioning into a position in the private sector.

  Moving forward, Germain will be joining the Critical Response Group, a business he co-founded in 2016. The company’s focus is on critical incident mapping, particularly in large scale emergency situations. So, while he won’t be wearing a badge anymore, Germain will still be using his experience to keep people safe.

  “If you have a school shooting or some other kind of critical incident,” explained Germain, “there is a map that ensures that all first responders coming from different communities are all on the same page.”

  Germain’s choice to leave now is because he feels he’s done everything he set out to do and more. He believes it’s important for leaders to work hard and then step aside when it’s time. Germain said he’s seen too many bosses who don’t move things forward, and he doesn’t want to be one of them.

  Among the outgoing police chief’s proudest achievements is preparing the local department for a smooth transition with a capable successor and a talented support team.

  “Having Jay (newly named Chief Jason Carroll) ready to take the chair, and having great people underneath and ready to move up, and backfilling those spots was the most important thing to me,” Germain said.

  “I would say the thing that I’m proudest of is that we have excellent people ready to take the reins,” concluded Germain.

  As a leader, Germain has focused on empowering his team of men and women in blue. He believes in his officers and credits the department’s success over the past six years to its “really good people.” Germain emphasized that providing the right tools and getting out of the way is key to letting talented people do their best work.

  When asked about his toughest challenge as chief, Germain became visibly emotional. He mentioned the passing of Officer Alex Hoffman in 2019, highlighting that while it wasn’t a line-of-duty death, it deeply impacted the department and the community. Germain emphasized the responsibility of supporting both the officer’s family and the department during such a difficult time.

  “As a chief to have someone who works here pass was quite hard,” shared Germain. “Alex was only 40 years old and a very well liked member of our family. It was a very jarring experience as he was the first active duty officer who ever died here. Very few of our retired officers from the Barnegat Police Department have died.”

  Notably, the Barnegat PBA 296 continues to keep Hoffman’s memory alive with a fun-filled annual event called Hoofy’s Fall Festival that raises funds for a scholarship in his name.

  In his nearly 30 years as a member of the department, Germain has seen a lot change. Technology is different, officers carry more equipment, and society’s expectations have changed. Now, police are expected to wear “more hats,” meaning they tackle a wider range of issues than ever before.

  During the early and confusing times of COVID-19, Germain stepped up as a calming voice for the community. When businesses closed, schools shut down, and fear ran high, Germain reached out through regular social media live meetings. These open forums helped people stay informed and connected, offering a sense of reassurance in the midst of uncertainty.

  “I think the expectation that people had was that they wanted to hear a calm, objective voice,” Germain said. “The equivalent of a modern day fireside chat.”

  Neighborhood policing became a part of the local law enforcement agency during Germain’s tenure as chief. He saw it as a good way for the community to connect with local officers and solve small problems before they got bigger. Of course, the concept doesn’t replace 911 emergency calls but allows officers to get to know residents in their assigned areas. It’s akin to the days when cops walked a beat, and everyone knew their names.

  As far as some parting advice for Carroll as his successor, Germain acknowledged that being a police chief means making some tough decisions.

  “But as long as you are always making the decision that is in the best interest of the town and the agency,” shared Germain. “You can always put your head on the pillow at night. You’re not always going to be right – but you can always put your head on the pillow at night.”

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Stephanie A. Faughnan is an award-winning journalist associated with Micromedia Publications/Jersey Shore Online and the director of Writefully Inspired. Recognized with two Excellence in Journalism awards by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists, Stephanie's passion lies in using the power of words to effect positive change. Her achievements include a first-place award in the Best News Series Print category for the impactful piece, "The Plight Of Residents Displaced By Government Land Purchase," and a second-place honor for the Best Arts and Entertainment Coverage category, specifically for "Albert Music Hall Delivers Exciting Line-Up For 25th Anniversary Show." Stephanie can be contacted by email at