Last week, four new officers were sworn into the department. The new hires bring the complement of officers in South Brunswick to about 75, which is still down from the staffing level of 82 officers a few years ago, before attrition chipped away at the police workforce amid a budget crunch.
"The search for new officers has been going on for awhile," said South Brunswick Police spokesman Sgt. Jim Ryan. "We had a total of 9 officers replaced over the last five months because of retirements."
The new officers hail from diverse backgrounds and offer varying skill sets to the department, according to police.
Bafti “Ben” Salihi, 29, of Union, was born in Kosovo, Albania and became a naturalized citizen in 2005. In 2008, he received an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Union County College and is currently working on his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice at Kean University.
Salihi graduated from John H. Stamler Police Academy and was hired in 2012 by NJIT as a police officer.
George Morgan, 22, of Red Bank, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kean University last year with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Elementary Education. He is scheduled to graduate from the Alternate Route program at Essex County Police Academy on Sept. 5. Morgan currently holds the Essex County Police Academy mile and half run time record at 8:05.
William Beard, 24, of Milltown, graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice in 2012. He graduated from the Atlantic County Police Academy as an Alternate Route candidate on Aug. 29.
Beard was Captain for the Rutgers baseball team in college and received an All Big East Academic Award in 2009, 2010, and 2012.
William Bonura, 26, of Sayreville, is a highly decorated former United States Marine Sergeant. In 2011, Bonura was credited with assisting in the capture and detainment of 46 suspected Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
He was also one of four Marines chosen to represent the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines at the Memorial Day Ceremony in Belleau France, which commemorated the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood.
Bonura is working on his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice at Caldwell College and is currently attending the Essex County Police Academy as an Alternate Route candidate, with a scheduled graduation date of Sept. 5.
"These officers and the ones we previously added bring diversity and training that enables them to hit the road already, which gives us an advantage in putting them into service quicker," Sgt. Ryan said. "They all come from diverse backgrounds and bring language skills, life experience and military experience that will help us in the community as a whole."