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Cumberland County Candidates for Sheriff

Election SeasonCumberland County Candidates For Board of Freeholders

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Robert Austino, Democrat (incumbent)

My qualifications include over 42 years of law enforcement experience. I was hired by the Vineland PD in 1973, I worked my way up the ranks at Vineland PD to lieutenant. I retired from Vineland PD in 2003. I was elected Sheriff of Cumberland County and have had the honor of holding that position since January 1, 2009. I have been married to my wife, Kathy, for 50 years. We have two sons, Capt. Adam Austino and Dr. Chad Austino. I am the proud grandfather of two granddaughters, Ella and Grace.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

1. Continued reduction of crime.

2. Promotion of community policing.

3. More tolerance, understanding and education of equal justice through community policing.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

I will continue to work toward reducing crime via my and my force’s direct involvement with residents, participation in community activities and establishing solid relationships with community members. This will help to further our goal to reach a consistent and unified plan for better relations between police and residents in our community. I will continue to work hand in hand with other law enforcement agencies and local decision makers to benefit and contribute to our unified plan.

Community policing is focused on law enforcement’s close collaboration with the community and addressing community problems. It has been seen as an effective way to increase citizen satisfaction and enhance the legitimacy of the police. I plan on working together with the Freeholder Board and other law enforcement agencies on the municipal, county and state levels to move toward this more modern and effective method of policing to build trust and establish quality relationships between police and residents. I will do this while always being cognizant of the budget and stretching every tax dollar as far as we can.

The current friction between the public and law enforcement around the nation must be addressed in a positive and productive way. I will do that by encouraging more tolerance, understanding and education of equal justice through community policing. When residents and police officers engage in real conversation, they begin to bridge the gap of understanding. As Sheriff, I will work diligently to encourage residents and officers to listen to each other’s concerns and positions with open minds. Trust is key and my goal is to focus on building trust between law enforcement and the community. The three P’s of Community Policing are People, Policies and Processes. Community policing leverages the 3 P’s in an effective and meaningful way and ensures transparency and accountability.

Please provide a closing statement:

In order to be a positive law enforcement contributor to today’s society, one must adapt to the ever-changing time and conditions. I have done that over the past 11 years and will continue to do so to improve the quality of life for every Cumberland County resident.

Michael Donato, Republican

Reside in Cedarville with my wife, Denise and our four children.

June 1994 – Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and worked in the jail, courthouse and Narcotics.

March 1998 – hired by the Bridgeton Police Department and worked in patrol, criminal investigations and the county narcotics task force.

November 2005 – hired by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.

Promoted to Sergeant in November 2010 and Lieutenant in August 2016.

Worked in the Narcotics, Major Crimes, Trial Units and Legal Bureau.

Retired in February 2020 after 25- plus years.

2nd Assistant Chief – Cedarville Fire Department (30 years)

President of the Cumberland County Fire Chief’s and E.M.S Captains Association.

In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Cumberland County?

Majority of the problems in this county are driven by crime and a lot of these crimes are driven by substance abuse. Just this past eight-plus months the overdose rate has skyrocketed. Although these are unique times this issue leads to much larger criminal activity and it is going to be difficult to control this issue.

How do you plan to address the issues listed above if elected?

Throughout my career, I have worked in proactive units. My plan is to use the experience I have gained in those units to be proactive in community relations and enforcement of laws. I will meet with community leaders and police chiefs to see what their specific needs are for their community, develop and execute the plan to fulfill those needs.

Meeting with community members and leaders is a necessity in order to build a strong relationship. Majority of the problems in this county are driven by crime. The additionally proactive support of the Sheriff’s department, I feel, will greatly assist in the reduction of crime. The mere presence of Sheriff’s officers in the area, motor vehicle enforcement, a presence at community events and meetings among other things will help the effort in deterring crime.

I will make sure officers are properly trained and have the necessary resources to be proactive and assist in any means possible with programs that help those in need with substance abuse.

If we can show a decrease in crime, while utilizing resources to help those that are drug and alcohol dependent, it will greatly assist with economic development and growth of this county.

Please provide a closing statement:

If elected, I will be the only Sheriff, dating as far back as the early ’70s, that has worked for the department.

As the Sheriff, I will do everything in my power to make Cumberland County a safer community and I will be proactive in strengthening the relationship between the communities and the police officers in Cumberland County.