BRIGANTINE — Police Chief Jim Bennett retired April 1 after serving 26 years with the department.
From his start as a dispatcher in 1992, Bennett made it his goal to one day lead the Police Department.
He had returned home to Brigantine with this ambition after serving four years on active duty in the Army as a special weapons artillery, communications and intelligence specialist.
“My goal was always work hard and get to the next level. I constantly wanted to be moving up. I didn’t want to be static,” said Bennett, 49.
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After being hired as a full-time officer in 1994, Bennett was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and to lieutenant in 2009. He became chief in 2016.
“He really demonstrated a commitment to the job and to the people of Brigantine. He demonstrated excellence in every aspect of his career and every rank he achieved,” Mayor Phil Guenther said.
Bennett was succeeded by acting Chief Thomas Rehill.
“I had a good run. The department’s in a great place,” Bennett said. “I think Chief Rehill’s going to do an outstanding job and continue the good work we’ve done over the last couple of years.”
During his career, Bennett, who was also appointed municipal emergency management coordinator in 2007, oversaw the response, damage assessment and disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy along with various local, state and federal officials.
“A lot of the things that he was able to do were behind the scenes in terms of damage assessment and things of that nature, but we also saw his leadership ability and his commitment to the people of Brigantine during this event,” Guenther said.
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He also worked with city officials to help secure a federal grant that was used to purchase permanent flood pumping stations in the city.
“I was helped along the way by some truly amazing people. There’s nothing I accomplished on my own, I can tell you that,” Bennett said.
Bennett played an integral part in upgrading the department's technology, including deploying computer-aided dispatch, a computer network with a mobile feature that allows officers and staff to complete reports and incidents in their vehicles.
“He’s very bright. He also empowers people within his organization to do work that is important to the entire team, but it also builds the capacity for the future, and that’s exactly what he’s done,” Guenther said.
Before looking for any new work, Bennett, who said he has not had a summer off since he was 14, is looking forward to enjoying the city’s beaches in the upcoming months.