Not a bad year for Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy, who took the reigns of the sheriff's office one year ago. He said he's undergone a learning curve with the help of his staff and had the funding support of the Ocean County Board of Freeholders in updating equipment, technology and vehicles.

The list is pretty impressive of what they've been able to accomplish this year. Mastronardy said they were able to upgrade some of the Sheriff's Office's policies, completed the Office of Emergency Management's (OEM) Mitigation Plan, reduced its Lab drug analysis backlog in its Crime Scene Investigation Unit (CSI) to zero.

As far as the purchase of new equipment, Mastronardy said some of the items were already in the pipeline under the previous administration but they were able to expedite the arrival with the assistance of the Freeholders and Ocean County Administrator Carl Block.

The list includes:

  • Selected a vendor for a Computer Aid Dispatch System (CAD)
  • Purchase 10 body camera's for officers who work in high risk and high liability units
  • Purchased a few patrol vehicles and re-purposed others
  • Purchased new crime detection technology for its Crime Scene Investigation Unit (CSI)
  • Rid its radio system of a long standing interference problem
  • Increased the K-9 unit by 3 dogs, that will be graduating in January
  • First in the state to have two portable translators that can speak 198 languages

Mastronardy said the sheriffs office has been working closely with the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and said the new K-9 patrols will be instrumental in their continuing narcotics enforcement efforts, sheriffs officers are also trained to use the opioid antidote Narcan to help prevent heroin overdose deaths.

However, the sheriffs office faces a challenge as it enters 2015 with the anticipated loss of eight senior officers through attrition.

"It seems like a rebuilding year as we rebuild and we hope to replace those officers. We have a commitment from the Freeholders to replace through attrition any officers but it takes time," said Mastronardy.

The economy also has had an impact on the sheriff's office. As the banks catch up with its foreclosure backlog, sheriff's officers play a role in serving the notices which has placed a big demand on its civil officers. Mastronardy said they've seen an increase in the number of foreclosures this year and he anticipates that trend to continue. He said his office only receives $2 for every foreclosure, according to state statute, which doesn't even begin to cover the cost of the preparation of paperwork by its clerical staff and officers required to serve it.

However, Mastronardy said even with the changes and addition of equipment, they were able to stay within budget this year. He said he looks forward to 2015.

"Next year's going to be interesting as we continue to computerize different operations, we're streamlining operations but I can assure everyone that we can handle every emergency that comes up," Mastronardy said.