By John Burton
RUMSON – It’s a new year and the borough’s police department has a new chief on the job who is quite familiar with the department.
Mayor John Ekdahl on New Year’s Day swore in veteran officer Scott Paterson to head up the 16-officer department.
Paterson, 46, has been with the department for 19-plus years. He was chosen Aug. 1 to serve as officer-in-charge, when then-Chief Richard Tobias announced his plans to retire, once he exhausted his remaining vacation and sick time. Paterson then was selected as acting chief on Oct. 1 and then named to permanently fill the position.
Paterson, his wife Stephanie and their twins, Avery and Cooper, live in Tinton Falls.
Prior to being named officer-in-charge, Paterson achieved the rank of lieutenant. He was one of three ranking officers who were under consideration for the position, Ekdahl said.
“Law enforcement has always piqued my interest,” Paterson said. He thought about becoming a fish and game officer at one time and has always maintained a strong interest in the outdoors.
Over the years he has drawn from his own experience and learned from fellow officers about the broader job of law enforcement and what it means to be chief. He has especially learned from colleagues who had the benefit of military background, including his father-in-law, a former department member, he said.
“You take a little piece from each person and you remember that and use that,” to do a better job, he said.
He hopes to bring that to his role as the borough’s top cop. “In this day and age one has to lead by example,” he said. “I think if you do that, you give the guys a reason to buy into what your mission is.”
That mission, he said, is to serve and protect.
During his tenure he plans to emphasize teamwork as a cornerstone of the department’s operation. “If you succeed, it’ll be the team succeeding and, if the team succeeds, then we’ll be in good shape,” he said.
Officers should be accessible and will be “out there interacting with the people, portraying a good example,” Paterson said.
“School safety is going to be a major priority,” he stressed.
As for school kids, Ekdahl noted during the borough government’s Jan. 1 reorganization meeting that a banner hanging behind Paterson as he took the oath of office was drawn and signed by Forrestdale School students, who offered their congratulations and good wishes.
“It gives you an idea of what they think of him,” Ekdahl said.