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Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Middle Police Chief Announces Retirement

Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner

Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner

By From Middle Township

COURT HOUSE – Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner, who created a model for community policing and shaped policy at the local, county and state level, will retire after 26 years with the department – half of them in the top role.
Leusner will step down on May 31. In his retirement letter of March 2, he expressed pride in the members of the Middle Township Police Department.
“I always say they don’t work for me, I work for them,” Leusner said.
The chief’s reputation for innovative and steady leadership earned him a number of prestigious positions with law enforcement groups. Leusner was president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police from June 2019 to June 2020, and is a past state president of the FBI National Academy Associates New Jersey Chapter and past president of the Cape May County Chiefs of Police Association.
“As an elected official, I consider myself blessed to have served the past 12 years side by side with Chris Leusner,” said Mayor Tim Donohue. “Chief Leusner has been a truly transformative figure in law enforcement, pioneering programs and strategies that defined progressive, positive community policing. Chris will be missed, but he leaves behind a department embedded with a strong command structure and a well-established tradition of excellence. On behalf of Township Committee and the good people we represent, we thank Chris for his service and wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement.”
Leusner’s legacy will include a stronger network of support for Middle residents. Through an initiative with Volunteers of America, two social service navigators will be embedded in the police department to refer community members in need to the appropriate agencies.
The chief consistently emphasized the connection between mental health and public safety, and is one of six original members of the Cape Regional Wellness Alliance, a small coalition of community leaders founded in 2016 to help children affected by trauma.
Leusner introduced the “Handle With Care” partnership with local schools to alert the district to students who might need extra support after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic incident. That program is now statewide.
Engaging young people was a priority for Leusner, who touts the success of community programs such as the police youth camp.
“These types of contacts create relationships with trusted adults they can talk to,” Leusner said.
The chief also said his role in ensuring reliable radio signals for police was one of his proudest accomplishments.
“Solving the continuing issues with the radio was so important so police could communicate for safety,” said Leusner, who worked with Donohue on the project in 2015.
As Leusner explores his next chapter, Middle Township will begin the interview process for a new chief, who will be selected from current department captains.
Leusner expressed confidence in the future of the force, and appreciation for the support of the community.
“Because of the work our officers have done and continue to do, we’re able to accomplish more and adapt to a challenging environment,” he said.

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