RARITAN TWP., NJ – Police Chief Glenn Tabasko calls him, “A true American success story.”

He’s talking about Ismael Mendez-Ortiz, the newest addition to the Raritan Township police force.

Tabasko told the Township Committee yesterday that most people call Mendez-Ortiz, “Ish.” The committee voted unanimously to hire Mendez-Ortiz as a probationary police officer.

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Tabasko said Mendez-Ortiz came to this country from the Dominican Republic when he was just 14 years old. At the time, Mendez-Ortiz didn’t speak a word of English.

But Mendez-Ortiz took English as a second language in high school. After that, he attended Mercer County Community College and then earned a degree from New Jersey City University.

The Mendez-Ortiz family joined “Ish” at his swearing in ceremony yesterday.

Notwithstanding the new hire, Tabasko told officials, “We’re in real need of personnel” in his department. Although the township population has grown since 1996 – and crime has grown along with it – the department has six fewer officers than it had then, Tabasko said. And the department had three secretaries in 1996, he said, but is down to just one now.

So in addition to the new hire, Township Committee approved hiring one more patrolman to add to the force. That will start a chain reaction of restructuring, allowing Tabasco to promote one of the department’s existing lieutenants to captain, and in turn promote a promote  a current sergeant to lieutenant and a patrolman to the rank of sergeant.  

The cost of that restructuring, including the new patrolman’s salary and the cost of raises for promoted officers, could be around $75,000 a year.