NEWTON, NJ—The Newton Police Department swore in three new police officers on Monday night during the town council meeting. Noteworthy, according to Chief Michael Richards, is that the first ever full-time female officer for Newton was among them.
Judy Torres, 30, was the first to take her oath. She was hired from the Civil Service list and is expected to graduate from the Morris County Police Academy on May 30. Torres is married and has two children.
Torres, who previously resided in Puerto Rico, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. She then lived in Ocean County and has been a Newton resident since 2016. According to Richards, she brings with her experience from serving as a corrections officer for the New Jersey Department of Corrections, as well as working in private security.
Richards noted Torres’ fluency in Spanish will help to fill the void left from the retirement of Officer Jose Morales, earlier this year.
Newton High School Alumnae, Steven Shawger, 27 was next to be sworn in. He was also hired off the Civil Service list and is expected to graduate from the Morris County Police Academy on May 30. Shawger attended both middle school and high school in Newton, residing in town for the last 15 years.
Shawger was an athlete in high school and in college and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice from William Paterson University in 2014. He has prior training and certifications as a Police Dispatcher for an agency in Morris County. Shawger worked in demolition prior to being hired in December 2018.
The final officer to be sworn is was Steven Kneidl, 30, who came from the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office through an Intergovernmental Transfer. Kneidl graduated from the Morris County Police Academy in May 2018 where he was Class President and the recipient of the 200 Club Leadership Award.
Kneidl was a Sergeant in the United State Marine Corps having served for six years. During his time in the Marine Corps he was in command of 62 marines, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
He brings with him his experience as a Sussex County Sheriff’s Officer as well as working in security for Atlantic Health, according to Richards.
Kneidl earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the Sussex County Community College. Kneidl is married with two children.
Mayor Helen LeFois, stood with Richards as they swore in each new officer. The officers chose someone to them pin their new badge. Shawger had fellow officer and longtime friend DJ Meisinger pin his badge. Torres and Kneidl had a family member do the honor.