A Brief History of the Township

The Township of Egg Harbor lies on the east coast of New Jersey, located just outside of Atlantic City. The area was originally discovered in 1614, and documents establish the Township as having been within the juridiction of the County of Gloucester in 1694. In 1710, the legislature set legal boundaries for the County of Gloucester, which included the Township of Egg Harbor (the County of Atlantic would not be established until 1837). Sometimes referred to as "Greate Egg Harbour Township," the Township's land area originally included many of the towns that in later years would be formed from within those boundaries, which is the cause of many of the outlying sections of town that are physically separated from the main area; such as West Atlantic City, the areas of Margate and Longport Boulevards, and various waterways and coastal areas.

Early Police

In the years prior to the formation of the organized Police Department that exists today, the Township relied heavily on the New Jersey State Police for patrol and police duties. However, there did exist a corps of Special Officers that supplemented Police duties within the Township. The uniform in the 1960's appears to have consisted of a blue shirt, with the triangle patch on the arm sleeve. These Officers wore badges issued with unique numbers, and this badge style would continue to be used for several years into the organized Police Department, before being replaced in the 1980's. This corps could be volunteers, and they worked at various times when available.

The Need for Change

While the Township remained rural, by the late 1960's, the community's need for a organized Police force were growing. Among other developments, Egg Harbor Township became home to the Shore Mall, a collection of stores that provided shopping for residents of many nearby towns, surrounded by the Atlantic Drive-In, which became the present-day Towne Movie Theatre. The area had more residents, and more daytime population. The Township finished the decade with about 4,200 more residents than when it began, entering 1970 with a population of about 9,800.

An Ordinance Creating a Department of Police

In 1968, the Township Committee passed the ordinance that created the full-time Department of Police. The earliest uniforms were green in color with brimmed hats. The uniform shifted to dark blue with the traditional "Air Force" style hat in the 1970's, with a different identifing patch that features an Eagle.
The original Police Station was a white two-story building located at Central Avenue and Bargaintown Road, in what is now the parking lot of Police Headquarters. These quarters remained in service until the late 1970's or early 1980's (for a period, the Department had also operated from a facility on the Black Horse Pike). The photograph shown on the right captures Chief of Police Edgar Unsworth, our third Chief, in attendance for the ground-breaking on the "new" Police Station, which was an addition to the current Municipal Building, which our present day Headquarters.

The Department Develops

As the area prospered in the years to follow and the population grew, the Department expanded over time to meet these new needs. In the early 1980's, the Police Department moved into the replacement quarters for the original white two-story building. This facility was an addition to the existing Municipal Building. By the early 2000's, the Department had again overgrown this "new" facility, and the Police Department was again expanded and renovated into a new state-of-the-art facility. As the Township and the Department grew in size, management responded with new roles and tactics for a growing Police force.
Police Operations are much different than they were in many ways, and the Department developed new roles for traditional policing. Patrol operations, once distributed between into just two geographic areas ("A" and "B"), are now directed by areas of responsibility, unit skills, and data analysis patterns. Our Detective Bureau has been a progressive adopter of advanced methods and tools to help identify evidence. CID, or Criminal Investigations, maintains many tools in a field-deployable vehicle, to bring these tools wherever they are needed. Innovative programs were developed throughout the 1980's and 1990's to involve the community and deter crime. For example, the Department employs the Traffic Safety Unit to identify traffic patterns and direct traffic safety initiatives, the Community Policing Unit, developed in the 1990's, continues to coordinate Neighborhood watch programs and programs tailored to mentor or adjust youth behavior toward a productive future.

Today's Police Department

Our community today is vastly different than just 50 years ago when the Police Department was created. The southern end of the Township continues to retain its more rural character, but extensive development is evident in mostly all other sections. Some traditional landmarks and references have been changed or removed completely.  As a suburban community of Atlantic City that supports the casino industry, our population has expanded to make this one of the largest communities in Atlantic County. The Police Department of today is not only much larger in the short time, but also offers more services and more progressive programs to meet the needs of a ever-changing community. The expertise of our Detectives in specialized areas, the advanced technology provided for crime detection, our outreach to involve our residents, and our unique approaches to amplify the effectiveness of existing police patrols in lean economic times serve as examples of adapting to the Township's changing needs. While these changes and history serve in stark comparsion to our early beginnings, our goal is the same, and our proud members remain committed to serving the community through the years and into the future.