BARNEGAT, NJ - Barnegat resident Joseph Peragine heads to the police academy next week after the Township Committee passed a resolution appointing him as the department’s newest patrolman. Peragine starts the position at a base salary of $50 290.90.
Peragine rose to the top of an applicant list of nearly 400 individuals with varying degrees of background and experience. Candidates from as far away as Virginia Beach, Pennsylvania, and New York are among those who sought to become a member of the Barnegat Police Department.
The hiring process is a rigorous one that begins with a written examination administered and proctored by the New Jersey State Chiefs Association. Applicants must also pass a physical test. The township joins other local municipalities as a non-civil service town.
Barnegat expanded its applicant pool this year by eliminating the college degree prerequisite. The requirement was in place for more than a decade.
“We want good cops here,” shared Barnegat Police Chief Keith Germain. “A lot of good people did not go to college. Instead, they went directly into the military or took up a trade.”
Demographic data of prospective candidates shows that over 70 percent were white males. A total of 31 women applied for positions. Barnegat saw not only the largest number of applicants this year – but also the most from underrepresented demographics.
Those who registered for the test as Hispanic/Latinos included 42 males and six females. Nineteen males and three females identified themselves as Black/African American. Asian American applicants included eleven men and one woman. One female was listed as American Indian, while other candidates chose not to answer the demographics question or responded as “other.”
Only about ten percent of applicants make it to the interview stage with Germain. All must have scored well on the written and physical examinations.
Germain identifies the top ten candidates and also considers factors such as honorably discharged service members and certified applicants. A certified candidate is one that has already graduated from a police academy.
Prospective hires must then undergo thorough background checks, as well as psychological and medical evaluations. Eligibility status created in 2020 is good for the next two years.
Barnegat anticipates losing officers next year to attrition as they retire. The plan is to bring the local law enforcement agency’s total complement to 51. The department was at 52 employees at its peak in 2015.
Germain said he was quite pleased with the number of quality applicants that expressed an interest in joining the Barnegat Police Department.
“We are only hiring at most the top 1.5 or 2 percent of those who apply,” Germain said. “The expanded pool helped in our selection.”
The Barnegat Chief is well known for his use of social media to deliver messages to the community. He plans to share more welcoming information about Patrolman Joseph Peragine in the near future.
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