MONTVILLE, NJ - Montville Township Chief of Police Rudy Appelmann has been on the Montville Township Police Department since 1986. He recently was made chief of police as of May 2014 with the retirement of Police Chief Richard Cook in April. Appelmann has a somewhat new vision for the police department. He is working on plans to develop a more positive relationship with the community.
“I would like to get back to more community involvement and build a stronger relationship with the public.” He explained that after economical changes, programs that fostered community relationships were cut and curtailed to maintain patrol response capabilities. He would like to see some of these programs reinstated and would like to see the police department be more actively involved in the community and the township schools.
Appelmann always knew since he was a child that he wanted to be involved in law enforcement. He said, “I always had a fascination with it even as a young boy.” He was the first one in the family to become a police officer. His brother John became a Montville officer for a short period of time before moving to Colorado and joining the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department. His sister Anne married Dave Johnson, who was already employed as a Montville officer.
Appelmann is very proud that he has worked only in Montville and that he has come up through the ranks and ultimately was made chief of police. He said that he now has the opportunity to steer the department focusing on community involvement. He is very grateful to have the opportunity to be chief, and he is very grateful for the support of the Township Committee.
Growing up in Lake Hiawatha until he was a teenager, Appelmann has fond memories of Montville when he and his mother, along with his older sister Anne, rode their bikes over the Vail road bridge and down Changebridge Road to be “in the country.” He said his family eventually moved to Montville because Lake Hiawatha became “a little too small and a little too crowded.” His parents Rudy and Marie wanted their children to have a better life. Appelmann’s parents and sister still live in Montville. His younger brother John now lives in Colorado.
Appelmann graduated Montville Township High School in 1982 and immediately became involved with the Montville Township First Aid Squad. He was an active member for about five years. He was hired by the township in 1986 and went to the Morris County Police Academy. He became a patrolman in 1986, and he became a detective and served as the juvenile detective in 1989. He also became involved in community policing with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (DARE). He said that the DARE program developed a positive child/police officer relationship. There are studies that show the DARE program was not effective, but Appelmann has no doubt that the program did develop positive relationships with the community. Michael Johnson, a member of the Montville Township Drug Awareness Council/Municipal Alliance, and nephew of Appelmann, wrote an article entitled “Picking Up the Pieces of D.A.R.E.” Johnson states that the program was a failure on the war on drugs, but he continues, “We should not rush to discount the value of a program that directly engages school children with local authority figures and active participation in community affairs.” Appelmann would like to see more community building activities with students.
He said that even though Montville has gotten bigger, it hasn’t changed much. He loves the town and wants to see it stay as great as it is. Appelmann said during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, the real spirit of Montville came through. He said, “The people were phenomenal.” They banded together, and when the shelters were opened, food kept pouring in along with whatever else was needed. “It really was heartwarming that everyone got together. It made our job easier,” added Appelmann.
He also has been the township emergency management coordinator for about 11 years. He said, “Not a lot has happened here, and Hurricane Irene was an awakening.” The community was trained for emergencies, but until Hurricane Irene, they did not have “real world and hands on experiences.” The event gave them a learning curve. The Senior House will be their main point of shelter. Appelmann would like to thank Dr. Paul Fried, Montville Township Superintendent of Schools, and the Montville Township Board of Education for all their cooperation during emergencies.
As for the future of Montville, he sees it as “bright.” He said that there was a massive turn over when the supervisory staff retired. This turnover brought “bright and energetic” people and put spark back into the police department. When hiring, the department looks at the local list of applicants first, and he said that there are a lot of former military people applying. Six of the current officers were from the military and all from Montville.
Appelmann would like to establish a school resource officer who would work in the high school full time. They would work to build a relationship with students, teachers, and staff, and evaluate the township schools for safety in the possible event of an active shooter. This resource officer would be responsible for all events at the school leaving patrolmen available for where they are needed. Appelmann would like to see this start in the high school and eventually expand to the whole school system. “Parents want to know their kids are safe,” Appelmann stated.
The Appelmanns celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary this year. His wife Mary grew up in Montville and went to Morris Catholic High School. He met her at Friendly’s in Parsippany where she was a waitress, and she later worked for her Uncle Alan Lundy of Royal Lawns. In 1990, shortly after he was hired by the Montville Police Department, they got married. They have two daughters. The oldest is Kelly, who is a sophomore at Rowan University majoring in performing arts, and Amanda, who is a junior at Morris Catholic High School. Amanda plans to major in chemical engineering so that she can develop her own line of makeup and cosmetics. She would like to enter into the field of theatrical makeup.
Appelmann is an avid Giants fan. “I grew up a Giants fan, and I have been aggravated most of my life,” he said tongue in cheek. He also likes working around the house. He has done the lettering and graphics on all the Montville patrol cars for the last 20 years.
In the future, he would like to see more of the United States. His in-laws had a time share in Cancun, Mexico, so he has spent some time there, and he has spent time in Colorado visiting his brother. He loves to visit Washington D.C. because it is so full of history.
When asked about what people do not know about him, he responded with humor. He said, “I have two daughters. Everything about me is posted somewhere.”