On April 20, the Gloucester Township Police Department and Mayor David Mayer honored Cpl. Jen McLaughlin for her formal retirement, celebrating her with a ceremony and final radio call.
McLaughlin had been a police officer in the department for over 20 years, most recently serving as a community worker.
She was one of the first officers to be part of the community relations department and a Chief David Harkins said “was perfect for the job”.
Prior to becoming a police officer, McLaughlin served as an EMT (medical technician) for Erial and Blackwood EMS (emergency medical service), which she did from 1994 to 1998. She was then hired as an interim sheriff’s officer by the Camden County Sheriff’s Office in 2003. she was hired by the Gloucester Township Police Department (GTPD) in 2004, where she attended the Camden County Police Academy.
“Most of all, I recognize (Jen’s) tenacity and dedication as she just met with someone in the community who was in need,” Harkins said while introducing McLaughlin at the ceremony. “Jen excelled at this because she cares, because of the person she is, and she cared about all the people she served as well as all those she served with.
“Congratulations on your retirement Jen.”
Mayer also congratulated McLaughlin on her retirement. He talked about the introduction of the Community Relations Bureau in the department and how it was introduced around the time he took on his role as mayor. Mayer says the community relations department was one of the best ideas he remembers being a part of.
“You have had a tremendous impact on this department and this community. I remember 13 years ago when I first became mayor, meeting with former Chief Harry Earle and then Deputy Chief Harkins about ways to grow our community. They came back to me with a recommendation from a community relations agency… Chief Earle told me, ‘I really have the perfect person for the job, Jen McLaughlin,'” Mayer recalled. “I remember being with Jen and thought all she does is smile, she’s so happy.”
GTPD said in a statement:
“To say she has fulfilled this responsibility is an understatement. She defines the word ‘success’ when it comes to police-community relations. She has built strong relationships with our church leaders, senior citizens, business owners, employees and children in our entire school system, members of our police department and so many others. Her position and dedication played an integral part in the success of our department.”
McLaughlin offered some words of thanks and laughed at her inability to begin the speech without shedding a few tears.
“Everybody knows I cry,” McLaughlin said with a laugh. She began by telling the story of her early days as an EMT before considering police work aided by her grandmother and grandmother’s boyfriend.
“My gram turned to me (one day) and said to me ‘If you want to be a police officer, I know you can do it. You are very strong minded.’ Rocky, my grandmother’s boyfriend then came to support my gram’s comments and told me all the “cool” things about police work. Now I know [the cool stuff] is not what policing is all about.” McLaughlin said.
Throughout her retirement speech, McLaughlin thanked former deputies, police chiefs, her first patrol team, the EMS crew she started with, and expressed thanks to her family for being there for her throughout.
“Mom, thank you for being vocal with your thoughts…Dad, you have the best work ethic of anyone I know,” she said, thanking her parents for molding her into an independent worker.
“Thank you for being the most supportive husband you could be,” she told her husband Bob, who was sitting in the front row.
“You came into my life later, but I believe God made our paths cross at the perfect time. I look forward to retiring with you, living our best lives with our (pet) goats in Florida.”
Visit the GTPD Facebook page to see more photos and videos from the ceremony.