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Since a wave of retirements ravaged the Lawrence Township Police Department three years ago, 16 new officers have been hired and, remarkably, the Township has experienced the lowest crime rate in the past 30 years.

“When the media seems to work against law enforcement officers—showing small clips of a larger picture, portraying officers as inept, aggressive, and confrontational, I am proud to say that our officers are professional, responsive, and proactive to the needs of our community,” said Chief Mark Ubry to those gathered Tuesday evening at the Municipal Building for the swearing in of Officer Steve Austin and Lieutenant Joseph Caloiaro. “Their efforts have truly kept crime down in our community. Community events (i.e. National Night Out, Trunk or Treat, Youth Police Academy, Community Egg Hunt) and business contacts have helped form bonds with our community in a time when civil unrest and distrust in police is far too common. I’m honored to be working with such a loyal group of men and women,”

Police Officer Steve Austin was born in Baltimore, MD and raised in Midlothian, VA. In 2004, he graduated from Christopher Newport University with a B.A. in Communications. In 2005, Austin was commissioned in the U.S. Army through the Reserve Officer Training Course. In 2005, 2007, and 2009 he was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and in 2011 was deployed to South Korea. In 2014, Austin transitioned from active duty to the New Jersey National Guard and entered the Mercer County Police Academy. Becoming a police officer was his boyhood dream. After graduating from the academy, he spent one year working for the Trenton Police Department before transferring to the Lawrence Township Police Department this past February.

Mayor David Maffei swears in Police Officer Steve Austin who is joined by his wife and one of his two daughters.
Mayor David Maffei swears in Police Officer Steve Austin who is joined by his wife and one of his two daughters.

Though Austin was hired several months ago, his swearing in was delayed due to his busy National Guard schedule and a planned vacation.

Austin resides in Burlington with his wife and two young daughters. After reciting the oath, Austin thanked his wife, saying “She is the backbone of the family and I couldn’t do anything without her support and sacrifice. I talked with her about my decision to leave the Trenton Police Department and come to Lawrence. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This is the type of community that I always pictured myself being a police officer in.”

Lieutenant Joseph Caloiaro’s family is steeped not only in Lawrence Township but also in the law enforcement profession. Joe, his father, is a former New Jersey State Police Lieutenant and was a Sergeant with the New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice. His brother Brian, is a Lieutenant and his brother Scott is a Detective with Lawrence’s Police Department.

Lieutenant Caloiaro is a graduate of Lawrence Township Public Schools and received a degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Montclair State University. In 1993 he was hired by the Lawrence Township Police Department. He has received Commendable and Meritorious Service Awards as well as a New Jersey P.B.A. Unit Citation.

Lt. Joseph Caloiaro speaks to the crowd assembled.
Lt. Joseph Caloiaro speaks to the crowd assembled.

After being sworn into his new rank of Lieutenant, Caloiaro, flanked by his wife and two children, tearfully told the gathered crowd, “I built my whole career on one premise taught to me by my parents when I was little, the Golden Rule. Treat people how you want to be treated and give the services you would expect. It’s worked and I’m going to keep doing it that way. We have a young department and a fine department. It makes me so proud to be part of a department that would draw young men and women, like Steve Austin, a Major in the United States Army. He left his job and risked it all to come and be here with us. It’s a credit to the department.”

News idea for Lawrence Township and Lawrenceville? Email Angela Jacobs (angela@mercerme.com).

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Angela Jacobs
Angela Jacobs is a freelance writer who lives in Hopewell Township with her teenaged children and partner of 20 years. Despite her best efforts to simplify her life, last year she added four chickens and a second rescue dog to her pet menagerie. Unfortunately, an interim of peaceful coexistence ended with the untimely demise of two of the chickens at the paws of Jax, the new dog. An egregious lack of impulse control has since been diagnosed resulting in an indefinite separation of Jax from all present and future chickens, her two cockatiels, open garbage cans, snacks open on tables, abandoned stuffed animals, etc. She does however gently encourage him toward a certain industrious squirrel that has spelunked its way through her backyard in search of the most perfect hiding spot for its nuts.

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