Capt. Gustav Koerner, youngest of six men holding that rank in the department, today was named Camden police chief.
Public Safety Director Aaron announced the appointment and the 53-year-old Koerner, a member of the department 26 years, was sworn in by County Judge Sheehan in Aaron’s office.
At the same time, Director Aaron announced the promotion of Detective Capt. Edward Carroll, 56, to police inspector, and the promotion of Lieut. Walter Mattison, 63, to captain, replacing Chief Koerner in command of the first police district, and police headquarters. Both were sworn in by Mrs. Mary MacClennan, acting city clerk.
Director Aaron also announced the following transfers, effective Dec 1:
Capt. John Garrity, from chief clerk of the police bureau, to command of the Third Police District, vacant since the retirement on pension two weeks ago of Capt. Richard Cornog.
Capt. Samuel Johnson, who has been acting police chief since
the resignation Jan. 1, 1948 of Chief George H. Frost, to command
of the detective bureau, succeeding Carroll.
Capt. Walter Rowand, 56, one of those made eligible for the appointment as chief by civil service tests, will continue in charge of the second police district, Director Aaron said, and Capt. Nathan Petit, 57, another eligible for the appointment, will remain in charge of the traffic bureau.
More than 100 police and firemen attended the ceremony at which Chief Koerner was sworn in, including Patrolman Frank Call, president of Local 35, Police Benevolent Association. Others included Deputy Mayor Malandra, acting for Mayer Brunner who was unable to attend; Freeholder Ewing and Captain of County Detectives James J. Mulligan.
After administering the oath, Judge Sheehan shook hands with Chief Koerner and said:
“I am certain that you will demonstrate your unquestionable integrity and courage in your new office and add lustre to our police department.”
Says Selection Difficult
Selection of Koerner over Captain Petit and Captain Rowand, Director Aaron said, was “an extremely difficult one to make.”
“All three captains,” the director said, “are my personal friends and have been for many years. I considered each of them well qualified for the job of police chief. In naming Captain Koerner, however, I took into consideration his age and his excellent physical condition.
The civil service tests in which the three qualified for appointment were taken after Chief Frost resigned. Koerner outpointed the other two, receiving an average of 78.5 percent against 76.3 for Petit and 74.3 percent for Rowand.
Captains Garrity, Johnson and Carroll did not take the examinations. As head of the department, Chief Koerner will be paid at the rate of $4425, the present salary of police chief, until Jan. 1, when, through the increase approved at the Nov. 8 election, he will receive 4885 a year. His captain’s salary was $3500 a year.
On Force 32 Years
The promotion for Captain Mattison not only was a reward for 2 years of service in the department but also brought him a salary increase from the rate of $3220 a year, the present scale for lieutenants, to $3500, the rate for captains. After the first of the year, he will receive $3960 a year.
Director Aaron said he did not know whether Inspector Carroll will draw a greater salary than that allowed captains. The city has not had a police inspector since the late Inspector Charles L. Humes Sr., retired Jan. 1 1933.
Police Chief Koerner, a native of Camden, is one of 10 children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Koerner. His father for many years was an engraver employed by the Theodore Presser Co., music publishing firm of Philadelphia.
Educated in public schools, Koerner was appointed to the police department June 16, 1923, and after a probationary period, was assigned to the motorcycle squad. He was named a sergeant in September 1930, and a lieutenant in November, 1941. Shortly after the latter appointment, he was placed in charge of the detective bureau, a post he held when named a captain in April, 1943, and continued to hold until placed in charge of the First district.
He is married and lives with his wife, Mary, at 807 Haddon avenue. He is a member of the Lutheran Church and has been active in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association practically from its start here.
Played Baseball in Youth
As a youth, Chief Koerner played sandlot baseball in East Camden and later, as an infielder, played with several teams in the old Eastern Shore League. On receiving his police appointment, he played with the Camden police team in the Penn-Jersey League. He has never relinquished his interest in baseball and at present is chairman of the Police Athletic League which sponsors sports for teen-agers.
Koerner had the appointment once before, Dr. David S. Rhone naming him chief last Oct. 28 a few hours after Rhone was removed as public safety director and Director Aaron assigned that department of the city government. The appointment, however, was cancelled the following day.
Chief Koerner was cleared of three charges of misconduct in office a year ago by a ruling of Judge Sheehan in Camden county court. The charges grew out of his alleged failure as head of the detective bureau to question persons whose names were found in a notebook on the body of Frank Luggi, who was murdered Dec. 31, 1946.
Veteran of War I
Inspector Carroll, who lives at 427 Lansdowne avenue, has had 27 years service in the department, being appointed on July 14, 1922. He was promoted to sergeant in April, 1930; to lieutenant, October, 1941, and to captain, March 23, 1943. He is a veteran of World War I. Previously to being placed in charge of the detective bureau in December 1947, he commanded the Second Police District and prior to that, the headquarters division.
Captain Mattison lives at 541 Washington street and was appointed a patrolman on April 11, 1917. He was promoted to sergeant Aug. 1, 1929, the rank he held for 14 years before being named a lieutenant on March 23, 1943. He commanded the First District for several years but without the rank of captain and for the last two years, has been in command of police headquarters.
134 Years of Service
Captains Johnson, Petit, Rowand and Garrity — all veterans of the department — have a combined service of more than 134 years, with Captain Johnson, who is 70, topping each of them with almost 40 years of service, receiving his appointment to the department in April, 1910.
Captain Petit, who is 57, was appointed a patrolman in April, 1917; Rowand, in December of that year, and Captain Garrity, in January, 1919, after serving six years as a member of the fire department.
Last August, Captain Petit was suspended for 28 days after he had been charged with violating a police regulation forbidding police to hold outside employment. He was accused of doing traffic work for a construction company during the building of the Baird boulevard overpass.
Capt. Garrity was indicted along with Director Rhone and Chief Frost in connection with the Van Riper probe of police laxity and gambling charges two years ago but was exonerated along with Rhone when their indictments were nolle prossed last May 13 by Prosecutor Cohen. Frost was acquitted by a directed verdict three days previously.