Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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William Lee Polhemus

Sheriff William Lee Polhemus, elected to office in 1985, has seen the population of Ocean County grow from 346,038 in 1985 to an estimated count of over 513,000. The county population continues to increase by approximately 8,500 people annually. As executive officer of all branches of service within his department, Sheriff Polhemus has the responsibility of staffing all units with well-trained professionals.

Sheriff Polhemus brings a strong background in law enforcement to the Sheriff's Department. He has extensive training and practical experience, having served in a command position in the Seaside Heights Police Department for over twenty years. He now has 53 years of continuous service in law enforcement.

Born on April 7, 1928, Sheriff Polhemus is a lifetime resident of Seaside Heights. He married Agnes Sprague and has two grown children, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

Sheriff Polhemus served eight years in the military. He was in the U.S. Naval Reserve Lighter Than Air Squadrons ZP751, ZP752, and ZP753. He saw active duty in the Naval Air Reserve Training Command, and received an honorable discharge as Petty Officer, 2nd class.

In 1951 he graduated from the New Jersey Police Academy. Since then, he has had extensive additional training courses including Police Supervision, Narcotics Enforcement, Principles of Command, and FBI Firearms. He is a graduate of the National Sheriffs' Institute held at FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia.

Sheriff Polhemus retired as Police Chief of the Borough of Seaside Heights. He was promoted to the Office of Chief on April 1, 1981, after serving as Patrolman, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain. He is a former executive officer of the department and charter member of the Seaside Heights PBA #252, carrying a gold PEA card. He is a member of all Police Chiefs Associations and a charter member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #10.

Sheriff Polhemus serves his community in other capacities. He is a Commissioner of the Ocean County Commission on Missing and Exploited Children, Coordinator of Ocean County Emergency Management, an exempt New Jersey Volunteer Fireman with the rank of Battalion Chief, a life member and former president of the Tri-Boro First Aid Squad, and a former Cub Scout Master. He served many years as Red Cross Blood Bank Chairman. Sheriff Polhemus was named "Man of the Year" by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #I0 in 1993, receiving the same title in 1994 from the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association. In 1995 he received the 15th annual "Loyal Buffalo" award given by the Jersey Shore Council, Boy Scouts of America. He received a certificate of appreciation for "Outstanding Sheriff of the Year" presented by the. New Jersey Department of Human Services in 1996. In 1997, he received a public service award from the Bais Kaila High School.

Sheriff Polhemus has always found the time to support the youth of the county, whether through the various Scout activities, internships for college juniors and seniors, tours of the Sheriff's Department, or by giving lectures at schools to help the children of the county prepare for future careers. When any Boy Scout obtains the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout, Sheriff Polhemus issues a special proclamation to him denoting the importance of this event. He also issues a special proclamation to any Girl Scout who earns her Gold Award.

In 1992 the Board of Freeholders appointed Sheriff Polhemus to a 3-year term as County Emergency Management Coordinator. He was re-appointed in 1995 and in 1998. As coordinator, Sheriff Polhemus oversees the operation of the. County Office of Emergency Management. The office is now rated #I in the state. The Ocean County Emerald Society named Sheriff Polhemus "Irishman of the Year" in 1998. In 2002 he was given the Public Safety & Law Enforcement Award by the Columbia Civic League of Ocean County.

Sheriff Polhemus is responsible for the five Divisions of the SherifFs Department: Office of the Sheriff, Court Security, Communications, Criminal, and Operations. Under these Divisions are several units;' bureaus, etc., which include countywide communications for Police, Fire and First Aid, Enhanced 91 1, Special Projects, Civil Process, Sheriff's Tactical and Rescue Squad and Fugitive Unit. His responsibilities also include Emergency Management, Police Academy, K9 Unit, Internal Affairs, Criminal Investigations, Criminal ID Bureau, Criminalistics Laboratory and Warrants. 'All units of the Sheriffs Department have been growing in staff and responsibility throughout Sheriff Polhemus' tour of duty, as befits a county that is growing rapidly.

The Sheriff recently co-founded, with the Prosecutor, a County Computer Crimes Unit that enables the county to stay on top of the growing abuse of computer technology by predators and other criminals. Most recently he was appointed to the State Terrorism Task Force representing the State Sheriffs Association.

Sheriff Polhemus maintains an open door policy. His door is always open to his staff and to his public. The oath of office taken by the Sheriff carries with it great responsibilities. Sheriff Polhemus strives daily to keep his department one of the most prestigious in the State of New Jersey.

We honor William "Bill" Lee Polhemus for his many years of dedicated service to his hometown and the citizens of Ocean County. We welcome him into the Toms River Schools Hall of Fame.


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