LOWER TOWNSHIP - Police Chief Brian Marker plans to retire July 1 after 27 years of service.
He will be replaced by 19-year department veteran Capt. William Mastriana.
Township Manager Mike Voll announced the changes Monday. Voll is the appointing authority but said he would meet with Township Council at a closed session in June to make sure there is agreement with Mastriana taking the post.
"I think it's important to have council ratify it. I think it's good business," Voll said.
Marker joined the force in 1986 at the age of 18 as a special officer and dispatcher, becoming a patrolman at the age of 21 and rising to captain in 2005 when Ed Donohue replaced John Maher as chief.
His father, Joseph Marker, was a captain on the force and Brian Marker, at the age of 13, had participated in a youth program at the police department.
Marker became chief in 2011 under a three-year contract but is only serving two years before retiring. He said he took the post after a 25-year career and only intended to be a transitional chief. When Marker took the post the force had been reduced due to budgetary issues, but recently several new officers have been hired. Voll said one is in training now and two more will be added next year.
"After 25 years I would have gone but there was so much happening so fast. I wanted to stay and keep it stable. The department is doing so good it's a good time to pass the torch," Marker said.
In 1994, Marker became the first school resource officer at the Lower Cape May Regional School District, a time that also saw him promoted to sergeant.
"We felt like we made a difference with the goals of the program, building bridges with the community, keeping the schools safe and to be a positive role model for students. Some of the students have become Lower Township police officers," Marker said.
He was also involved with the Community Policing Unit, another attempt to reach out to the community that has since been dissolved due to budget constraints.
Mayor Michael Beck praised Marker for the positive relationship with residents that has brought results on such issues and combating drug abuse, which was part of the mayor's platform in the last election. He said Marker has also worked well with the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office on fighting substance abuse.
Mastriana would become the sixth police chief since the department was created in 1955. Marker said he has had a well-rounded police career including commanding a SWAT team for the southern region, serving as a detective and a patrol commander.
Voll said the change would trigger some other promotions at the department, including Lt. Thomas Beeby becoming a captain.
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