History of the Department
The Township of Mantua was originally part of Greenwich Township, and broke away as a separate township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on 23 February 1853. Mantua Township is located in the center of Gloucester County, just south of the County Seat of Woodbury. The township is surrounded by East Greenwich and West Deptford Townships to the north, Wenonah Borough, Deptford Township, and Washington Township to the east, Pitman Borough and Glassboro Borough to the south, and Harrison Township to the southwest. Parts of Rowan University are also contained within the township.
Mantua Creek is believed to have been named after the Native American word “manta”, meaning frog, whose loud yell occurs annually in the area and is very recognizable. Mantua Creek was the chief source of navigation and transportation for both the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans and early settlers.
The first town meeting was held on 9 March 1853 where Joseph Norris, John Haines, and Elijah Chew were appointed to the position of “Overseer of the Poor and Constables”. In the early 1900s the state passed legislation enabling municipalities to appoint special officers. On 22 March 1917 the Township Committee organized a temporary special police department using members of the Township Fire Departments. The “Committee on Public Safety” was also formed to oversee the police force. The Police Chief was chosen, often being the current Fire Chief or Company President.
On 9 July 1968 the current Police Department was formed by an ordinance. Thomas Connell was selected, with the help of the Police Chief’s Association, to serve as the first Chief of Police of the department, where he served until his retirement in 1980. Since then there have been three additional Chiefs – Ronnie Walker, Graham Land, and Rodney Sawyer (current Chief). Currently, the department consists of 26 sworn Officers, 2 part time SLEO II Officers, 3 part time SLEO I Officers, and two civilian Police Clerks.