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Berkeley Township has a new police chief!

A swearing-in ceremony was held at town hall on Saturday afternoon for the promotion of Deputy Police Chief Kevin Santucci to Police Chief following the retirement last week of Chief Karin DiMichele.

Officers from BTPD lined up along the walls of the council room with police from other departments including Lacey Police Chief Michael DiBella and Kevin's brother Paul, who is the Police Chief in Colts Neck.

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer was also among those in attendance along with Kevin's wife Jill of 18-years and their sons Trevor and Gavin.

It's been a whirlwind of emotions for the new chief after rising through the ranks since joining the department in 2001, especially more recently becoming Deputy Chief in 2018 and then being promoted to Chief of Police on Saturday.

"It's definitely been a hectic time but an exciting time, trying to get everything out to thank everybody that helped you to get to this point is not easy, I'm sure I left some people out but they know who they are," Chief Santucci tells Townsquare Media News. "Over the last couple years I've gotten to work day-to-day with Chief DiMichele and we had a good relationship. I learned a lot from her and I hope to continue to build upon what she did here."

Chief Kevin Santucci began his law enforcement career in 1999, three years after graduating from Central Regional High School, as a Class I and II officer with Seaside Park Police before being hired as a patrolman in Ocean Gate in 2001 and a few months later was hired as a patrolman in Berkeley Township, according to BTPD.

In 2008, he was apart of the Ocean County Prosecutors Office Special Operations Group where he assisted in narcotics and gang related investigations while climbing through the ranks at BTPD.

Throughout his time in law enforcement from the beginning to now, Chief Santucci has learned everything there is to know and it has helped him along the way.

"Between people I've worked with in the beginning in Seaside Park to Ocean Gate to here, the guys who are retired now and even the current officers, you definitely take a little piece of what you see and how everybody does the right and the right way you should act and you should portray yourself as a police officer to the public and amongst your peers," Santucci tells Townsquare Media News.

The perception of law enforcement and scorn by people painting police with a broad brush has changed dramatically over the last several years to an unfair point of view and police receiving a barrage of verbal insults and physical attacks in certain parts of the country.

It's one of the things Chief Santucci is addressing with his department as they hope to do what many others do in law enforcement, follow the Golden Rule.

"I'd like them to stay open-minded but I also ask the same of the public. We're not in their shoes and they're not in our shoes so we both have to be a little adaptable and see that there's more than just their side of the story," Santucci tells Townsquare Media News. "It's not easy to overcome when somebody's done something wrong and we get labeled as a group when there are a lot of honest, good, hardworking men and women in law enforcement and hopefully people that have those positive interactions with police continue to spread them. I would ask my men and women to treat the people they deal with as you would want your own family treated and that's how I always try and portray myself in my years in law enforcement."

Kevin Santucci sworn-in as Berkeley Police Chief

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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