By Steve Plunkett
Police Chief Clay Walker will end 12 years of safeguarding the town when the holidays are over.
‘’Careers do come to a close and I have decided to retire effective at the end of the business day January 2, 2012,’’ Walker said in an e-mail giving Manalapan residents a month’s notice. ‘’I look forward to the opportunity to say personal goodbyes to as many of you as possible over the next few weeks.’’
Walker was named the town’s director of public safety in October 1999 after a 21-year career with the North Palm Beach Public Safety Department, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant, and a rookie year with the Clewiston Police Department, where he grew up.
‘’I wish to thank each of you for supporting me while I fulfilled this lifelong goal of being a police chief,’’ Walker continued in his e-mail to residents. ‘’During my tenure, I have had the opportunity to meet many special people in Manalapan.’’
The native Floridian has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University.
Walker supervises a lieutenant, eight police officers, and four full-time and four part-time dispatchers. The department’s $1.35 million budget makes up 42 percent of the town’s total expenses.
Mayor Basil Diamond said Lt. Carmen Mattox would likely be named interim chief and that Walker had prepared the force for his departure.
‘’He’s not leaving us in the lurch at all,’’ Diamond said, noting the Town Commission would give Walker a formal thank-you at its Dec. 20 meeting.
The soon-to-retire chief has been working with Ocean Ridge Chief Chris Yannuzzi since last summer refining Ocean Ridge’s proposal to take over Manalapan’s ‘’white glove’’ level of police dispatching.
Manalapan commissioners are eager to combine services with neighboring towns where possible to save taxpayers money.