RED BANK, NJ – TAPinto Red Bank has been offering a series of “Back of the House” articles profiling the men and women who make Red Bank “work.” Our purpose is to have the borough residents gain a personal sense of the people and the support personnel who perform behind the scenes to keep the town running efficiently and safe, 24/7. Hence, “Back of the House.”
We spoke with Lt. Robert Clayton of the Red Bank Police Department and asked him a few questions.
TAPinto: The Clayton family has an extensive past with the RBPD. Tell us about that history
Clayton: My family’s history with the Red Bank Police department dates back to early 1900’s. My great-grandfather was the first Clayton to join the police back in 1900. My grandfather was with the department from 1927-1967. My father joined the force in 1964-1995. I have two Uncles George and James who were also on force from the 1950’s-2004. Pretty much there has been at least one Clayton employed by the police force since near its existence
TAPinto: Tell us about yourself, where you grew up and how long you’ve been a LEO with the RBPD
Clayton: I grew up in Little Silver and attended Red Bank Regional High School. I have three daughters, Alexis and Ashley (twins, 25 years old and Melanie 22. I recently got married to my wife Tracy who has two children, Kim, 23 and Danny, 21. As you could only imagine, we have quite an active household with that group of kids. Both of us love the beach, so we purchased a house 5 minutes from our favorite beach which is in Point Pleasant.
I was hired by the Red Bank Police Department in August 1991.
Upon completion of the Monmouth County Police academy I was assigned to the Street Crimes unit. Our primary objective was to stop the open-air narcotics trafficking in high crime areas. I worked on that unit for 2 years working steady night’s 6:00pm-2:00am, Tuesday through Saturday. I can’t recall a single time that we ever actually got off at 2am. Red Bank was a much different place in the early 90’s.
After street crimes ended, I did a year in the patrol division before being asked in 1995 if I was interested in the Detective Bureau, to temporarily to work narcotics cases. I jumped on that opportunity and found my calling.
In 1997, I was assigned back to the Detective Bureau as an Investigator. There was a wealth of knowledge and experience in the bureau, and I was able to absorb something from everyone I worked. In 2001, I was promoted to Detective. I remained in the Detective Bureau until 2012, and then promoted to Sergeant and assigned the Patrol Division. In 2014, I was promoted to Lieutenant in the capacity as a Watch Commander where I remain today
TAPinto: Talk about the moment or circumstances in your life where you realized that you wanted to become a police officer
Clayton: Since I can remember I have always wanted to be police officer. I have been around law enforcement my entire life. I can remember being 9-10 years old and my dad bringing me into the police on the weekends and meeting the guys.
My dad spent most of his career in the detective bureau before being promoted to Chief. As a detective, you’re on call a lot. I remember him coming and going at all different hours of the day and night. I watched it for years and thought I want to be a detective some day and luckily it happened for me.
As a kid, I think I watched every police show that was on TV. Most people at 18 or 19 years old don’t really know what path in life they want to take. That was never a problem for me
TAPinto: As a Lieutenant, what are your responsibilities and specific duties?
Clayton: As a Watch Commander I am responsible for 7 other officers assigned to my squad. I am required to make sure the officers are following the police department’s rules and regulations.
I’m in charge of the scheduling making sure the proper number of staff is on duty, I review reports, review motor vehicle record videos from their cars and body mic. I’m assigned to the Internal Affairs unit which investigates citizens’ complaints against an officer, and assigned to Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), checks to ensure all bars are properly following state guidelines. I order all first aid supplies for the department, so every car is equipped with the proper first aid supplies.
As a Lieutenant, I still work the road with the members of the squad responding to calls. Basically, if there is a decision to be made that the Sergeant doesn’t have an answer to, it comes down to me making the final call on what course of action we will take
TAPinto: Being a LEO is a high stress job. What outside activities do you do to relax?
Clayton: I spend most of my free time with my family. I have always put family before everything. I coached my kids in just about every sport they played in from 2nd grade through high school. Coaching has always been a favorite thing for me to do. I actually passed on taking promotional exams for 10 years, so I could continue to work in the detective bureau and still be able to coach them in soccer.
Soccer turned into a 10-month sport and I needed the weekends off to be able to travel and coach with them. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of the bureau and it afforded me the schedule I needed to make my outside life work, Lol!
When I feel I need to relax or have some sort of stress, the beach takes everything off my mind. Give me a fishing pole, and you probably would not see me for days.
TAPinto: As a police officer, you see it all. Tell us about your most exciting moment(s)
Clayton: I don’t even know where to begin here. I have almost 30 years of stories to share. I would have to say executing a search warrant in the early morning hours. You know where you’re going, but you have no clue what you will encounter on the other side of the door. If you ever want to get your heart rate up that sure will do it to you.
Delivering a baby is right up there as well. I have done that twice in my career. All the childbirth practices in the academy doesn’t prepare for the real-life version of birth
TAPinto: Your most gratifying moment(s)?
Clayton: I'd have to go with a case I investigated back in 2002, It was an armed robbery takeover of Katsin’s Drug Store on Shrewsbury Avenue. There were a pair of men who had robbed 7 pharmacies in 4 different towns over a period of 14 days. They met resistance from the store owner in the Red Bank case. As a result, the owner was pistol whipped and knocked to the ground.
During the brief struggle a sunglasses stand was knocked over and the suspect’s glasses were knocked off his face. The glasses were pointed out to me and I collected them as evidence. We basically had no other evidence to collect from that scene as the suspects were wearing gloves to ensure no prints were left behind.
We sent the glasses out to be processed. The lab was able to collect DNA off the frames of the glasses which yielded us a suspect. The case went to trail, and it was first time in Monmouth County that DNA was used in courts during a trial.
We were able to link the suspect and his partner to all 7 robberies. After multiple lengthy hearings and a trial, we secured a guilty verdict on all counts. They were both sentenced to 55 years in prison for the Red Bank case. It was pretty cool being the first DNA based trail.
And Maybe Remind the Few, if Ill of us they Speak.
That We are all that Stands Between the Monsters and the Weak.
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