For more than three decades, John Wilson III has been a fixture in the Shrewsbury Police Department, starting as a probationary officer and steadily rising through the ranks over the years. Now, after more than a decade as the department’s chief, he’s ready to call it a career.
At its reorganization meeting Tuesday night, Council President Tom Menapace introduced a resolution announcing the retirement of Wilson, who will officially leave the department Oct. 1. Menapace thanked Wilson, who did not attend the meeting, on behalf of the council for his years of service to the community.
But while Wilson is retiring from the force, he said he plans on continuing to work and may even have a federal job lined up right now. With more than a decade service as a department chief and at 61 years old, Wilson said now was the time for him to step away from the position. The decision to retire from the force was based on several factors, he said, not least of which was Gov. Chris Christie who has made public pension reform one of his top priorities.
“There are a lot of factors, really, including the fact the you never know what this governor is going to do with our pension,” he said durning a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “While I’m still sitting OK I’m thought I should get out.
“I don’t plan on retiring. There are a lot of changes going through the police community and it’s just time to go.”
Wilson earns more than $117,000 a year.
Wilson said he remembers standing watch over a burned-down horse stable 36 years ago. Those were his first orders on the job. During his time he’s worked under four different chiefs and seen the community develop and grow. Where fields once existed there are now housing developments and shopping centers. He even remembers a time when traffic wasn’t bad on Route 35.
In his time, Wilson said violent crime has decreased in the borough while other types of criminal activity have increased and taken their place. Instead of incidents like robberies and assaults, Shrewsbury often deals with crimes like fraud. He’s worked closely with the New Jersey State Police, FBI, Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies over the years.
“I really have to say it’s been a very pleasant 36 years,” he said. “There are always good times, and some bad times, but there’s been more good than bad. I’ve learned a lot over my tenure.”
Wilson said the police department would remain in good hands, indicating that he believes his second in command, Lt. Louis Ferraro, would assume the role he’s vacating.
“It’s time for me to move on and let some of the younger guys move up,” he said. “My second in command is more than capable.”
Menapace did not name anyone as a specific replacement for Wilson. Wilson will likely begin a transitional period during the summer as he uses up unused sick or vacation time at which point the council will appoint an acting chief. Once Wilson’s retirement is official Shrewsbury will begin its search for a permanent replacement.