By Jason Cohen
Steve Beecher dreamed of playing in the National Football League (NFL) or becoming a soldier, but his life took a different path. While he doesn’t compete on Sundays or fight overseas, the Randolph resident was appointed police chief of Mt. Olive on Aug. 1.
“I didn’t have the size or the speed to be an NFL guy,” said Beecher who has been a policeman for 29 years.
Beecher, 55, grew up in Denville and attended Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., where he initially majored in pre-medicine. After his first year, more than half of the students dropped out of the major because of its difficulty and he switched to psychology and social services.
“I wanted to help people and being a doctor sounded like a good idea,” he commented.
The chief noted that he was the first person in his family to attend college. His father, Steve Beecher was a cop in Florham Park for 14 years and both he and Beecher’s stepfather, Walter Van-Treek served in the Marines.
“Being a police officer was always in the back of my mind,” he remarked.
While he does not work in a hospital saving lives, he makes a difference in Mt. Olive every day.
The chief explained that he enjoys his job because there is always something going on in the community.
“In Mt. Olive we have a little bit of everything,” Beecher said.
He recalled an incident 25 years ago when there was a blizzard. He and a few officers found a stranded car on Route 46 and it turns out the couple inside were on their way to the hospital to have a baby. With snow pouring down, Beecher helped deliver it on the side of the road.
“I can’t say that I did much; it just happened,” he said.
Since he began his career as a policeman nearly 30 years ago, things have changed drastically. Beecher acknowledged he is not the most tech savvy guy, but over time has adjusted to cellphones, computers and the numerous other high tech gizmos and gadgets that come with the job.
“Things are changing so fast that you really have to make an effort to learn what’s coming out,” Beecher said. “Circumstances have forced me to become operationally competent.”
Beecher noted that the negative image of police in the media today has no effect on Mt. Olive. According to the chief, he and his staff have a good relationship with the community.
“For the most part, the people in our town are very supportive,” Beecher said. “We don’t feel a lot of the backlash that other officers do.”
He is looking forward to his time as chief, but realized the position requires much more paperwork than he anticipated.
“I feel it’s a great honor and really a challenge for us to continue improving,” he said.