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John Pollinger Responds to His Critics

| July 15, 2012

John Pollinger. (© FlaglerLive)

By John Pollinger

There has been speculation and rumors about my retirement from the Middletown Township Police Department.  Word was bandied about that I was “fired,” “forced to resign” or that I somehow failed to protect the residents on Election Day in Middletown in 2004.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was a civil service employee throughout my career. Unlike chiefs of police in Florida, I could not be removed from office for any reason other than formal disciplinary actions or committing a criminal offense. When appointed to the position of chief of police, I was selected by a Business Administrator (city manager) with the approval by the Township Committee (city council).  The Township Committee was all Republican. I note that simply because politics played no role in my appointment.  I was never asked about my political affiliation, as it is of no importance in the role of any law enforcement officer.

I made the governing body aware of my intent to retire in May 2004.  The members of the body were notified months ahead of time out of professional courtesy, and to allow sufficient time to schedule a test for the next chief of police. It became public and the media printed stories about my decision in the coming months.

The situation on Election Day became a public issue during my final days as chief.  A Catholic School used as a polling station was demanding a police officer’s presence during voting hours. Failing this demand, the location threatened to cease being a polling station.   The business administrator, Robert Czech, under pressure from city officials, demanded I place a police officer at the location. The Attorney General of New Jersey however, issued an order the previous day that no police officers were to be stationed at any polling places in New Jersey.  I had a choice: either allow my department to be used for political reasons, or follow the order of the Attorney General of New Jersey.

Since the Attorney General of New Jersey is the chief law enforcement officer, and his orders have the power of law, I chose the latter.

I could have easily obeyed an unlawful order, quietly riding out my final days as chief of police and retiring as I had planned, in less than sixty days.   I could have chosen not to have controversy that would have otherwise marked what had been a successful career in public service, not just by my accounts. I made a decision to do what was right and what was lawful. In fact, I actually delayed my retirement for two months for some authority to intervene and decide who had the authority to manage day to day operations of the department.  While I had the backing for my decision in an editorial in the Asbury Park Press and the local Courier newspapers, the NAACP, both police unions, the county and state chiefs of police organizations, no decision was forthcoming from local, county or state officials.  As a result, I retired on February 28, 2005.

The second part of an online comment here was most disturbing, to say the least. It referred to my relationship with the local American Legion post, and alleges, from an anonymous source, that I took a trip to New Jersey in the fall of 2009, at the expense of my responsibilities to the legion. The allegations are short on facts and rich in falsehoods.

It should be noted that I did not seek the office of Post Commander but did so at the urging of others. The Commander at the time needed to step down for health reasons and not one of the other 300 plus members would accept the position. I knew my former wife’s condition was worsening and at any time I might have to be by her side in her final days. I was assured I would have plenty of assistance if I would only agree to take the position and under those assurances, I accepted.

The trip to New Jersey did not occur in August but in December.  On Saturday, December 5, 2010, I learned my former wife Nancy was critically ill at a hospital in New Jersey. She had been battling breast cancer for over 20 years and the situation was dire. At the urging of my wife Janet, I left Palm Coast the following morning, drove straight through to New Jersey and checked into a hotel in Middletown.  The following morning I arrived at the hospital, stayed by Nancy’s side day and night and at her request, spent the final three days of her life in the hospital. I was with her in her room when she passed away on December 19, 2010, and days later gave the eulogy at her funeral. I returned to Palm Coast the day after her funeral.

During this time of grief, I was receiving emails on my phone about making travel arrangements for a young girl for an oratory contest in the American Legion.  I implored a number of people through emails from my phone to handle this, as I did not want to leave Nancy’s side to make phone calls. For that, I was criticized by one or more people in the American Legion for a “failure in leadership.”  People in the American Legion knew where I was and why. I still have the email exchanges in my computer files, but I will save them the embarrassment for their own failures during a very difficult period of my life.

I have decided to post all of this information for your own edification and opinion at my website. You can find under the “About the Candidate” tab a pull down menu as well as more articles in my “behind the badge” articles I wrote for a local newspaper at the time.

I made a decision to run for Flagler County Sheriff because I believe in giving back to a county that has made me feel welcome and at home.   I plan on implementing programs I created as a chief of police to reduce crime, foster a positive image and a renewed enthusiasm and dedication to the citizens of Flagler County.

I have committed most of my life in service to my community and service to my country as a United States Army Veteran. From teenage “cadet” to the challenges faced as chief of police on September 11, 2001, I believe every event has prepared me for the next chapter in my life as your sheriff. Law enforcement alone is not the answer.  Members of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office are the most visible part of local government and must be part of our community’s solution to social issues as well.  A connection between law enforcement and the community we serve must be real and not simply a slogan. If elected, I will lead by example, encouraging the men and women of the sheriff’s office to make a positive difference in Flagler County and reflect their best each and every day.

John Pollinger, one of three Republicans running for Flagler County Sheriff in the Aug. 14 primary–along with incumbent Don Fleming and Ray Stevens–served as the police chief of Middletown, N.J., from 1997 to 2004. Democrats Jim Manfre and Karl Tozzi are also running.

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21 Responses for “John Pollinger Responds to His Critics”

  1. Flagler Resident says:

    I have been watching this election from the sidelines. I am really impressed at the manner in which Mr. John Pollinger has conducted himself. How much crap are they going to throw at this man before it is enough? Mr. Pollinger is not even the incumbent, his attackers are sticking it to him every chance they get. I met him at the Wine and Food Festival and I like what he has to say. I have asked around and found out that Mr. Pollinger is becoming quiet popular with our Sheriff Deputies. I am going to vote for Mr. Pollinger because I find him to be trust worthy and an honorable individual. I hope everyone goes out and does their research, you will find that this man will be our next sheriff. Good Luck to you Mr. Pollinger.

  2. flaglerborn1965 says:

    Fellow citizens of Flagler Colunty. I have come know and respect John. He is a honest, hard working, compassionate, and diligent police officer who dedicated his life to serve the people around him. Please look at his website and research for yourself. We all have an obligation to be informed voters. See you all on Aug 14th!

    • John E says:

      I met John Pollinger at the Wine and Food Festival and he greatly impressed me with his candor, his demeanor, and his sincerity. He is the best man for the job of Sheriff. He ‘s got my vote!

      • FRANK DILIBERTO says:

        I also met Mr. Pollinger at the Wine and Food Festival, I was not as impressed as John E.. While speaking to Him I could not help but notice he was more concerned with how many hands he could shake rather than showing interest for the person he was speaking to. I also noticed he does not look you in the eye but looks away whwn asked a pointed question. At this point I am not sure where my vote will be placed however, Mr, Pollingef appears to be just another New Jersey cop wanting another pension under his belt. Not what we need right now in Flagler County.

  3. deana says:

    I only have two questions… 1) did Mr. Pollinger pay for this political advertisement? 2) will the other candidates have the same opportunity to pat themselves on the back.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      deana, sheriff candidates have been on the receiving end of withering criticism from each other or from the likes of anonymous, unaccountable commenters, including you. They have a right of reply. Manfre, Fleming and Pollinger have exercised that right under their name, Stevens has by Proxy.

  4. Kendall says:

    I continue to be impressed with Mr. Pollinger and his classy response to the assault from Ray Stevens & Co. Had Shaffer never filed her frivolous litigation against him I probably would not have given him a second look. So thank you Ann Marie Shaffer and Ray Stevens for bringing Mr. Pollinger to the forefront and giving me a Sheriff’s candidate believe in interested in supporting!

  5. Jim J says:

    Pollinger does not impress

  6. Robert Lewis says:

    The problem here is we have gone after a persons character. We have picked apart every little aspect of their life and demoralized everything they stand for. Next we will get so deep in critisim and nit pick over how many sugars he puts in his coffee. It really speaks volumes of this mans character. The Stevens clan and whatever group they call themselves this week have lead a constant assault since January. How has Mr. Pollinger responses? With a smile and continues to campaign positively.

    I have yet to hear Mr. Pollinger speak ill of Ray Stevens. Yet Ray sends put emails out there insisting there is a deal and claiming other nasty stuff. The level of hatred coming from his attackers is concerning. It concerns me because, we have people in this community who do not have the citizens best interest at heart. Well, that’s why I am voting for John Pollinger. All of this nasty stuff has not deterred him from his message. He continues to campaign on his ideas and experience. The manner in which he has conducted himself has proved to he is trustworthy of the citizens votes.

    This is not a campaign about who is more republican, but who can serve the people the best. The reality is we have a serious drug problem not being addressed. Instead the news media is given a dog and pony show drug raid as pointed out in another story. We have a sheriff who is heavily debted in corruption or the appearance of corruption. Our current sheriff admits the recent drug raid was “shoveling shit into the tide”. I think the people deserve better. The people deserve a sheriff who will do the right thing when no one is looking and continue to be an active part of their Sheriff’s department.

    I wish you well Mr. Pollinger. I really enjoyed the videos on your website. My favorite is the Ronald Reagan one. God Bless sir.

  7. patty says:

    This is the comment I had posted under a related topic on flaglerlive. I think it is appropriate here as well.
    “I have met Pollinger and Stevens both, recently around town, face to face and one on one at several political functions. In my personal opinion, while Pollinger appeared even- tempered, polite and even humble in seeking the vote, Stevens appeared agitated, bitter and rambling about the evils of his opposition. Who do you think would get the vote based on such a performance?
    I believe the lawsuit brought about by Stevens’ supporters reflects this mean spiritedness and has, if anything, boosted Pollinger’s chances.”

  8. Will says:

    Let’s not forget this race is only at the primary stage.

    After August 14th the R nominee will face the D nominee.

    Former Sheriff and Attorney Jim Manfre has both credentials and experience. People I know hold him in high regard.

    Mr. Pollinger has credentials and experience also, and he has conducted himself admirably. People regard him well too.

    It should be interesting. It will be best for the county if the cream will rise to the top in both parties. (For the kids who don’t remember milk bottles, that means it’s a good thing… :)

  9. roco says:

    Anyone who is a loyal and honest person does not change parties just to add to his chances to get elected.. Another Charlie Crist.. A turncoat and desperate person.

  10. palmcoaster says:

    @Will. You are correct and the experience, integrity and family values that I know since 2000 of Mr. Jim Manfre is why he, has my vote.

  11. Biker says:

    Best of luck Mr Pollinger. I am sure you will be the republican candidate for sheriff. After the recent events I dont think certain other candidates could be elected dog catcher.The underhandedness in this election is astounding.

  12. roco says:

    Now I read where the police union supports him. I wonder why. Has he already made some deals??

  13. deana says:

    In comparing candidates, I can see how Ray Stevens appears agitated, he is speaking to deaf ears. The noise surrounding the lawsuit has drown out his voice. Yes, Mr. Pollinger is cool calm and collected…just like a used car salesman. He speaks but says nothing. I am beginning to believe that my Republican vote has to go to Sheriff Fleming. At least we know what we have. The sad thing about this all is wouldn’t it be a shock if Ray Stevens wasn’t just crying that the sky is falling!

    • Anonymous says:

      Go for it John You were a great Chief of police in Middletown and I am sure you will be in Florida ….More power to yah Brother God Bless you, Dawn Blozen

    • Dawn Blozen says:

      Hey John dont sweat it You were an awesome Chief in Middletown.The outpouring of love and integrity youve shown to the families who had lost loved ones on 9-11 was above and beyond your duties as Chief…Let the haters hate because that never changes .Walk with integrity because God has called you too….Being in a position of authority you are called to a standard of living and I believe with His leading you will be the very best Sherrif that County has ever seen God Bless you my friend, Dawn Blozen

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