ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – “My goals are to continue to provide the best possible service to this community and be as transparent as possible with the public, and to get the youth involved in our community so they can get to know our names and get comfortable with us.”
These are only two of the high standards that are important, the borough’s newest Police Chief Scott Reinert said in his first interview after taking over the top post March 1 from retiring chief David Rossbach.
Nor does he look at either of his primary goals as anything difficult to achieve. “I believe the former Chiefs of this department have laid a great foundation for this department,” he stressed, and added. “Chief Rossbach did a great job of preparing me for this position. I moved up the ranks very quickly with the retirements of Captain Stone (Thomas) and Chief Rossbach so I suddenly collected many responsibilities.” Taking advantage of all the experience and lessons he has gained from predecessors the Chief added, “I am currently working on passing on the responsibilities that I had while completing the responsibilities I have now.”
That he comes to the position well qualified and enthusiastic cannot be denied. A native of Manalapan, the chief is a graduate of St. John Vianney High School before earning a degree in business administration from Iona College in New York. More recently, he also completed in-service Certified Public Manager training with Rutgers University.
His first taste of working in law enforcement came in Sea Girt where he was hired as a Class II Special Officer. After attending the Cape May County Police Academy, and spending two summers on the job in Sea Girt, it was enough to convince the enthusiastic and dedicated officer he wanted to be in law enforcement all his life.
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When Reinert learned there was an opening in the Atlantic Highlands department for a dispatcher position, he didn’t waste any time. He was at his second job in Manhattan, working as a union stagehand for Good Morning America, when he got a phone call about the opening. So he immediately drove from that job to the borough to get the application. That led to then Chief Jerry Vasto taking him on as dispatcher in 2008 and then less than a year later, as a full-time police officer. Six years later, in 2015, he was promoted to sergeant, four years after that transferred to the detective burau and name Detective Sergeant.
Last year he was promoted to Captain, gathering up experience and knowhow every step of the way.
Now as the head of the department, Reinert wants to continue the high standards that have been set by every previous chief as well as establish new ones of his own. “I want to get the youth involved in our community by establishing a police explorer program so the teens can really get to know us. It can also serve as a great recruitment tool for future hiring processes and would be a great opportunity for the youth to see if they want to pursue a career in law enforcement.”
But he has also set some pretty impressive goals for himself. “I want to be able to look back at my career and leave it feeling I contributed to making a difference in people’s lives.”
Articulate, personable, and eager to converse about the importance of also listening to people, the Chief recalled a recent story that made him reflect on the importance of being a good listener and treating people with respect. “A woman stopped down at Police Headquarters and asked to speak with me last week,” he said, continuing, “I spoke with her for several minutes in the lobby and she told me that I had stopped her for speeding seven years ago and she never forgot about me. She explained she was going through the most difficult time in her life at that point and the way that I treated her and spoke to her made a difference in her life.” The chief does not remember the incident, did not recognize the woman but admitted “she made my day!” And the conversation led to his explanation of yet another goal he has set for himself. “I also want to look back and see that I put my officers in the best position to succeed and treated them with the upmost respect while holding them to the highest standards.”
Family is of utmost importance in learning high standards, setting goals, carrying through and working with a strong work ethic, Reinert continued. He is high on praise for both his parents for the support they have always, and continue, to give him, and for providing him the opportunity of education and support in achieving those high standards. The youngest of three sons, the Chief said not only were his older brothers great role models for him, but their parents’ support and guidance has led to all three of them being highly successful in their chosen and varied fields of endeavor.
Now a resident of Oceanport, where he lives with his wife, Tami, whom he met when both were students at St. John Vianney, the couple has four children ranging in age from two to eleven, Mason, Miles, Lynden and Lilly. The Chief said his family has instilled even more aspiration for him to set and maintain high standards and carry on the ethic traditions his parents gave him and his brothers.
After less than two months on the job as the top law enforcement officer, Chief Reinert said there’s not any one thing that’s easiest or most difficult. “Policing is consistently changing and evolving and if you are not able to adapt you will not succeed. We are held to such a high standard and a select few can ruin it for all of us. This can get frustrating for all members of law enforcement but we need to prove to our community that we hold our officers to the highest standards.”
Nor is there anything that can be described as a typical day. “One of the many reasons why I became a police officer was because there are no typical days and the days are unpredictable. I loved the idea of a job that’s always different and always changing. You have to be on the balls of your feet at all times and that’s what makes it interesting.”
There is a best part of the job, though, he said enthusiastically, “Having the ability to mold younger officers into great professionals. I am excited to continue to provide them with the best training and tools to succeed. My position is not about me, but making those under me excel. We have a very young department and I have a great opportunity to have a significant influence on how successful they will be.”
His own experience in this department has impressed him with the excellence already established. “II have seen this department stay ahead of the curve on many different issues. I look forward to staying ahead of that curve.” As examples he cited the department’s investment in body camera use seven years before it became mandatory across the state. He pointed out the department became an accredited agency in 2018 verifying “we are following the “best practice” standards in policing.”
Because accreditation results in greater accountability within the agency, reduced risk and liability exposure, stronger defense against civil lawsuits, increased community advocacy, and more confidence in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and respond to community needs, the chief explained the process is not mandatory “but my predecessors wanted this department to be held to a higher standard. Over the last three years I have worked to get the department re-accredited and that reaccreditation process is happening this month.” A goal being achieved just months after his promotion.
In addition to his work as Chief, Reinert said he’ll continue to be a uniformed officer on the job, but will don business attire for professional meetings and where it is more appropriate or fitting. He’s already in the Monmouth County and State Chiefs Associations because he wants to take advantage of the “ wealth of knowledge in the room every time there is a meeting. It’s a great opportunity to bounce ideas or problems off of other established Chiefs.”
Looking back to his first weeks working on the job, Chief Reinert said he has been most appreciative of not only the support he is receiving from the men and women with whom he has been side by side and is now their chief, but there’s even more. “What surprised me the most is how much the community has already embraced me in the new position. This is a tight knit community and you don’t always know how the promotion will be received. Everyone has been great and excited for me. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over my career and in my beginning weeks as Police Chief.”
Atlantic Highlands Police Chief Scott Reinert appears not only ready for the job but dedicated to making it the best experience for himself, his department, and most importantly, the people of Atlantic Highlands.