New police chief takes over in Cape May

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New Cape May Police Chief Robert Sheehan is sworn in on Tuesday at City Hall. New Cape May Police Chief Robert Sheehan is sworn in on Tuesday at City Hall.

CAPE MAY — New Cape May Police Chief Robert Sheehan says he’s taking the police department back to basics.

“It’s really Police 101,” Sheehan said after he was sworn in Tuesday, March 4, as Cape May’s newest police chief.

On his first day on the job this week, he said he planned on implementing bicycle patrols in residential neighborhoods, part of a community policing approach.

Sheehan’s father, Robert, was an officer in Cape May for several years. He has served in the department as a patrolman up to lieutenant. In 2006, he was promoted as captain.

He replaces Diane Sorantino, who retired earlier this year and served as police chief for 12 years. Sheehan has been with the police department for 24 years.

Dozens of family, friends and others packed the auditorium in City Hall during a swearing-in ceremony. The room was so full that people watched the event from the balcony, and others crowded against the walls. Cape May City police officers, dressed in blue uniforms, stood near city officials seated at the table.

Sheehan's wife, Vicky, was at his side as he was sworn in as police chief. Several people clapped and whistled after his appointment became official.

"I think we have someone who has the experience, the education, the mindset, definitely the intelligence, and the commitment, most of all," Mayor Edward J. Mahaney Jr. said at a City Council meeting held earlier that day.

Councilmember William Murray said he is pleased that Sheehan has been named police chief, calling him extremely qualified.

Sheehan attended Lower Cape May Regional School District and has a business administration degree from Stockton College. He also attended the FBI National Academy.

He said he has always had the thought of becoming a police chief. His appointment is for three years.

After Sorantino announced her retirement, the city government worked with state officials and consultants to create a more efficient and effective police department.

"And as a conclusion of that finding, we have arrived unanimously at the decision that Rob Sheehan will be the best and a very fine police chief for us in the coming years,” Mahaney said.

During the city council meeting Tuesday, council members passed a resolution approving an emplacement agreement so Sheehan could become police chief. He will earn $123,500 the first year, $126,000 the second and $128,500 the third.

Cape May’s Police Department has 21 full-time officers and 15-20 seasonal officers, according to Sheehan. A replacement captain has not been named, he said.

Besides Cape May, the police department serves West Cape May and Cape May Point through inter-local service agreements. The police station is on Washington Street in Cape May.

Sheehan, 47, lives in Lower Township with his wife, Vicky, and three children.

"He's always been, not just a local resident, but a local resident who cares about the community," Mahaney said. “And I think it's a good indicator of the quality of individuals we have working for the city.”

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