1980's - Diversity and Expansion
During the fall of 1979, the New Jersey State Police embarked on an experimental program to recruit, select, and train an all-female class in an effort to increase the number of women in the enlisted ranks of the Division.
In June 1980, thirty women graduated from the first all female State Police class in the nation.
During the spring of 1980, an ambitious program to expand laboratory services to serve law enforcement throughout the state was completed.
The program began in 1969, and was designed to meet the future needs of the law enforcement community in the scientific field and called for expansion of the Central Laboratory of the Forensic Science Bureau at Division Headquarters in West Trenton and the establishment of three Regional Laboratories to cover the state: North at Little Falls, South at Hammonton, and East at Sea Girt. With the opening of the East Regional Laboratory, each phase of the expansion has been successfully completed.
In early 1981, the Division embarked on a unique program to stem the spiraling crime rate in New Jersey by forming a State Police Metro Crime Task Force.
The Task Force, which comprised uniformed Troopers, was to supplement local police resources in an effort to suppress violent street crime and armed robberies of commercial establishments.
The overall goal was to alleviate the fear of crime in the minds of citizens and to buoy confidence that government can impact positively on the problem of crime in the major urban centers.
The City of Trenton requested aid and became the first major city in the state in the experimental program. The five-month pilot program proved highly successful in helping to reduce crime.
On July 1, 1981, the Marine Police of the Department of Environmental Protection were transferred to the State Police and made part of the Field Operations Section.
The Marine Law Enforcement Bureau became the primary provider of police services on the waters of this state. The Bureau provides response to waterborne emergencies requiring police investigation and/or assistance.
In 1982, the Superintendent established the Weapons Committee to review Division policy and determine ways to improve the Trooper’s safety and effectiveness.
As a direct result of this Committee’s action, the 9mm semiautomatic pistol was adopted as the primary weapon of the State Police, replacing the traditional service revolver. In addition, our firearms training was revised and increased, and the PR24 baton and shotguns in Troop cars were adopted through the committee’s efforts.
Also, in 1982, the Employee Assistance Program was established for all sworn members and their families. The general purpose of the New Jersey State Police Employee Assistance Program is to help those individuals with persistent behavioral-medical or personal problems.
During 1983, the Legislature and the Governor mandated that the State Police become active in the statewide investigation of missing persons and background investigations within the solid/hazardous waste industry.
Subsequently, the Missing Persons Unit and the Solid/Hazardous Waste Background Investigation Unit were formed within the Investigations Section to carry out these legislated responsibilities.
On January 20, 1984, another milestone in the history of the Division was reached when the 125 members of the Highway Patrol Bureau were sworn in as members of the State Police.
They had been under the jurisdiction of the State Police since February 10, 1979, when an Executive Directive issued by the Attorney General transferred the Enforcement Bureau to the Division’s Operations Section, where it became known as the Highway Patrol Bureau.
This merger was accomplished to avoid overlapping assignments and improve operational efficiency by placing statewide enforcement under the Superintendent of State Police.
In 1985, the Well Trooper Program was instituted for all sworn personnel. The program, which has been a great success, follows good preventive medical practices to ensure a healthier work force by providing a complete annual medical examination.
In 1986, following a unique signing of a five-year lease between the Army and the Division, State Police pre-service training was relocated from the Sea Girt Training Academy to facilities at the US Army Training Center, Fort Dix.
The move to the new training facility alleviated crowding at the Sea Girt Academy and enabled State Police recruit training to be conducted 12 months a year. Advanced training courses for state, county and municipal police, and the basic course for municipal and state agencies continues to be conducted at Sea Girt.
Liberty Week ‘86 was the largest and most extensive operation in the history of the State Police. Nine days of events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty encompassed the use of 1,240 Troopers and approximately 10,000 work-hours.
The Division’s responsibilities included: patrol, criminal investigation, aiding of the sick, and medical evacuations at Liberty State Park, the Meadowlands, and on many of the surrounding highways leading to these areas.
The success of Liberty Week ‘86 and the lack of any serious incidents occurring can be attributed to the excellent planning and coordination between the Division and the many other law enforcement agencies involved.
The new State Police communications network became operational in 1987. This modern day system is a long way from the early years when a red lantern, red light or red flag would be displayed at signal stops to advise the patrols there was a message for them.
During this decade, increased responsibilities have had a tremendous impact upon the profile of the Division and have provided the opportunity for the State Police to, once again, demonstrate its versatility and proficiency when called to task.
This can be attested to by the most extensive manhunt in State Police history for the killers of Trooper Philip Lamonaco, which began with his murder on December 21, 1981.
Through determination and sophisticated investigative techniques, suspects Raymond Levasseur, Patricia Gross, Richard Williams, Jaan Laaman, and Barbara Curzi were arrested on November 4, 1984.
This manhunt ended when the last two suspects, Thomas Manning and his wife, Carol, were arrested on April 24, 1985. This ended the ten-year reign of these career criminals who are members of the Jonathan Jackson-Sam Melville Unit and The United Freedom Front terrorist groups.
They were also responsible for eighteen bombings and numerous bank robberies throughout the east coast on the United States.
As the times changed, so did the priorities and objectives of the New Jersey State Police. In conjunction with the implementation of the 1986 Comprehensive Drug Reform Act and the statewide master plan for comprehensive drug enforcement, the Division instituted “The State Police Plan for Action,” in July 1987.
This innovative drug enforcement program began with new drug laws, and updated arrest, search and seizure laws and techniques. The training was followed by immediate aggressive patrol work coupled with increased enforcement action resulting in drug arrests increasing dramatically.
Successful undercover high school operations combined with a strong emphasis on educating students have served as a deterrent to drug use in our schools. Meanwhile, the targeting of upper-echelon drug traffickers continues with a new sense of urgency.