BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater Township Police Department promoted a half-dozen of its officers, three to the rank of lieutenant and three more to the rank of sergeant.
The promotions were overseen by Acting Police Chief Paul Payne, and took place Jan. 30 before a large audience of family, friends and fellow officers at the latest meeting of the Bridgewater Township Council.
Promoted to lieutenant were Sgts. Christopher Fischer, Jeff Savare and Brian Blath, while promoted to sergeant were officers Kurt Bernhard, John Cooper and Frederick Brittain.
“It’s fantastic to see the room packed with so many police department supporters,” said Bridgewater Township Mayor Matthew Moench of the crowd assembled that evening.
He added that it is a testament to how important the department is to himself, the council and the municipality, before directly addressing the promoted officers.
“You are taking on an unbelievable responsibility,” said Moench. “You are setting a standard for the department, and have to be the best.”
He told them they set standards in how they treat the public and more, and thanked them for taking on such a responsibility.
Fisher began his police career in January 1995 in the department’s patrol division, and then became a school resource officer in March 2005. He returned to patrol after four years, and was later assigned as a field training officer, before eventually being promoted to sergeant in 2013.
Fisher, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Scranton, was joined at the promotion ceremony by his wife, Connie, along with daughter, Gianna, and sons, Sean and Luke.
Savare began his policing career in January 1998 in the department’s patrol division, and has gone on to serve as a field training officer, and a member of Somerset County’s S.W.A.T. (special weapons and tactical) team. He has also served as a firearms instructor for both the Bridgewater Township Police Department and the Somerset County Police Academy, and was promoted to sergeant in 2015.
He was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Tracey, and son, Jake.
Blath started in law enforcement with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office in August 1998, and shifted over to the Bridgewater police in December 1998, where he was assigned to the patrol division. Reassigned as technical services officer in June 2001, he returned to patrol and was promoted to sergeant in 2018.
Blath, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University, and a master’s degree in administrative science from Fairleigh Dickinson University, was accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and daughter, Elizabeth.
Bernhard got his start as a police officer in December 1996 in the patrol division. He has also served as a field training officer, and as an instructor in firearms, assault rifle, first aid, CPR/AED (cardio pulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillator), and active shooter combat operator, among other assignments.
He served as treasurer of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) for many years, and holds an associate’s degree from Raritan Valley Community College, plus a bachelor of arts from Richard Stockton University, both in criminal justice. Joining him at the ceremony were his wife, Darlene, and son, Kyle.
Cooper started with the department in January 1999, in the patrol division. He also became a member of the Somerset County Crisis Negotiation Team in April 2003, and still serves that team as its deputy commander.
One of the Bridgewater Police Department’s firearms instructors, he is also proficient in Spanish, and has served as an instructor in both firearms and basic Spanish for recruits at the Somerset County Police Academy. A graduate of Hobart College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, Cooper was accompanied by his wife, Colleen, and daughter, Lainey.
Brittain began as a patrol officer in June 2003, and, while serving in that capacity, also became a field training officer, as well as an instructor in firearms, assault rifle and active shooter, among others. He was assigned to the traffic safety bureau in September 2017, serving in accident reconstruction for both the department and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.
Prior to becoming a police officer in Bridgewater, Britain served honorably in the United States Marine Corps for four years, ultimately rising to the rank of sergeant. He holds an associate’s degree from Middlesex County College, and is currently working on a bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University.
He was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife, Kate, and son, Taylor.
“You are taking on a new role in your career, and I wish you all the best,” said Payne to his newly-promoted officers in his closing remarks. “Remember that leadership is the ability to create an inspiring future that motivates people to engage with it.
“A leader serves as the anchor needed to turn that vision into a reality,” he added. “A great leader creates a vision of the future that must be compelling enough to ensure that people buy into it.”
He cautioned them that they needed to be willing to make decisions, sometimes without all the necessary information, and need to pay attention to detail, and that it is their job to provide leadership both with the police department and to the community at large.
“You will make a difference,” said Payne. “We are a team.”
He also told them that leadership was a gift, given by those who followed, and that they were all ready to lead. He told them to believe in themselves, that they can get the job done, and that they will have his full support.
Payne also thanked family and friends for their support of the officers, and for “taking this journey with them.” He thanked Moench, the township administration and the council for their ongoing support.
“We are all a part of the Bridgewater Police team, and we will succeed,” said Payne.