BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Bernards Township Deputy Police Chief Michael Voorhees is due to retire effective July 1 following 26 years as a township police officer, and his planned departure leaves the department looking to fill three vacancies.

Voorhees, who was commended in a resolution by the Bernards Township Committee on May 14, started with the police department in 1993 as a patrol officer.

"You have given generously of your time and efforts in a dignified, faithful and professional manner," the township resolution stated.

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"Mike's presence and contributions will be greatly missed by the department and we wish him all the best," said Police Chief Michael Shimsky. Another high ranking officer in the department, Capt. Mark Leopold, retired in May.

Voorhees has served in many capacities over the years to include detective, patrol sergeant and lieutenant before being appointed Deputy Chief in April 2018, Shimsky said. 

"Mike was the first School Resource Officer ever appointed in the department when the program was started in the late 90's and served in that capacity for several years," Shimsky said of his second-in-command in the department, which has a full complement of 38 officers.

As Deputy Chief, Voorhees was an executive officer of the department and responsible for a number of capital improvement projects the department carried through, as well as overseeing the department's professional standards functions, Shimsky said.

"Mike also successfully steered the department through the accreditation process attaining re-accreditation status from the New Jersey State Association of Chief's of Police in 2018," the chief added. He noted that accreditation ensures the police department is in compliance with best standards in order to deliver the most efficient police services at the highest professional level. Achieving accreditation also reduces liability for the township, he said.

Voorhees holds a bachelor's of science in Law and Justice from Trenton State College and an MA in Administration and Supervision from Seton Hall University, Shimsky said.

The police department is currently seeking to fill three positions, the chief said. Along with the two retirements, another vacancy was created with the resignation in April of Patrol Officer Ryan Caparoni, who had been hired the previous year.

Deputy chief position will not be refilled

Moving forward, the department will be transition away from the recently created deputy chief position and re-instating a lieutenant position, Shimsky said.

"The move is in an effort to facilitate a more efficient command structure," Shimsky said. The revised structure will also allow the police department to fulfill many of the numerous command level responsibilities and professional standards requirements in the most cost-effective manner," he said.

Along with the thanks of individual members of the Township Committee, the May 14 resolution said that the Township Committee as a whole "sincerely appreciates the worthwhile contributions you have made towards the material development, communal welfare, safety and quality of life in Bernards Township."