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Thursday, July 3, 2008

[NJ] Deputy Chief Zimmer

His wife Peggy found him in the basement of their home just after 7 a.m... no note was found... He was long married to his wife, Peggy, who is recovering from breast cancer... The report was brutal in its assessment of HTPD leadership... A township police officer is temporarily guarding Mayor John Bencivengo...

Deputy police chief's suicide shocks township
Journal Register
HAMILTON - Deputy Police Chief George Zimmer Jr. killed himself yesterday morning with a single gunshot to the head. His wife Peggy found him in the basement of their home just after 7 a.m... no note was found... Zimmer had a daughter who just graduated from Steinert High School and was heading to college, and a namesake son at Steinert. He was long married to his wife, Peggy, who is recovering from breast cancer... Township Council had been scheduled to vote last night on the first of three ordinances designed by Mayor John Bencivengo's administration to implement a police reorganization that would have reduced the number of top-ranking cops on the force and likely have busted Zimmer from deputy chief back to captain at age 55. But the meeting and the vote were postponed out of respect to the Zimmer and Meara families, said Council President Dennis Pone. (Councilman Kevin Meara's 24-year-old son, "K.C.," was found dead at home on Monday.)... Voting on the proposed police restructuring ordinances will be rescheduled. They are the result of a 17-page report on the department authored by a Bencivengo transition team and made public in May. The report was brutal in its assessment of HTPD leadership, trashing Chief Collins for being out of touch with the public and claiming Zimmer "lacks leadership" and gets no respect... Zimmer was called an "intelligent and experienced manager" in the report, but he was cited as being overly bureaucratic and "an obstructionist." "Encourage the chief, deputy chief and all captains to retire as soon as possible," barked one proposal. The report had input from chairman Albert J. Varga, a retired Hamilton deputy chief, and former Trenton Deputy Chief Joe Constance. As soon as the report was issued May 16, Zimmer was said to have gone on vacation, and never returned to work... [Full article here]

Hamilton mayor being guarded after lawman's suicide
Thursday, July 03, 2008
A township police officer is temporarily guarding Mayor John Bencivengo just days after Hamilton's recently demoted deputy police chief died by suicide. Bencivengo, whose administration put forward the demotion of deputy chief George Zimmer Jr. as part of a township-wide effort to cut costs, said Hamilton officials were aware of no specific threat to his safety, calling the guard a "precautionary measure that would normally happen" after an incident involving a gun and a public official... [Full article here]
[suicide police officer involved law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities department politcs new jersey state politics]


  1. AnonymousJuly 03, 2008

    George J. Zimmer Jr.
    HAMILTON TWP. - George J. Zimmer Jr., 55, of Hamilton Square passed away on Tuesday, July 1, 2008, at his home.
    Born in Trenton, he was a lifelong area resident.
    Deputy Chief Zimmer was a graduate of Notre Dame High School, Class of 1971; attended Rutgers University; and was a graduate of Burlington County Police Academy, Class of 1977.
    He entered the Hamilton Police Division in 1977 and during his career was awarded the Honorable Service, Exceptional Service and 30-Year Good Conduct medals. He also earned many promotions, achieving the rank of Deputy Chief of Police in 2002.
    Deputy Chief Zimmer attended numerous leadership and management related courses, including the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., in 1993 and LEEDS (Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar), sponsored by the FBI in 1997.
    He was currently serving as vice president of the Trenton Police Federal Credit Union and as treasurer of LEEDS.
    George was active with his son's baseball teams in the Nottingham Little League and Babe Ruth. Throughout the years, he was involved with his daughter's dance recital productions. His commitment to family and friends defines the character he exhibited throughout his life.
    His interests included golf, boating, fishing, tennis, gardening and woodworking.
    Predeceased by his infant brother, Joseph Zimmer, and his sister-in-law, Sharon O'Donnell Whartenby, he is survived by his wife of 20 years, Peggy O'Donnell Zimmer; his daughter, Sarah E. Zimmer, and his son, George J. Zimmer III, both at home; his parents, (Ret. Hamilton Police Chief) George J. Sr. and Helen Zimmer; his sister, Helen (Bill) Rickett; his brother, Michael S. Zimmer, all of Hamilton; members of the O'Donnell family: Kathie Simmons of Lawrenceville, John E. Whartenby of North Carolina, Patti (Pete) Daunais of Tennessee, Robert J. Jr. (Susan) O'Donnell of Sayreville, Kara (Tony) Mongiovi of Branchburg, and Dawn (Bob) Mitten of Hamilton; seven godchildren; aunts, uncles and cousins; numerous nieces and nephews; and many close friends.
    A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Gregory the Great Church, 4620 Nottingham Way, Hamilton, NJ 08690. Burial will be in Our Lady of Lourdes Cemetery in Hamilton.
    Viewing hours are 3 to 8 p.m. Friday (July 4) at the church.
    Arrangements are under the direction of the M. William Murphy Funeral Home, 935 Parkway Ave. Ewing.
    In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Zimmer Children Education Fund c/o Thomas M. Brown, Esq., 3131 Princeton Pike, Bldg. 1B, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648.

  2. AnonymousJuly 03, 2008

    Report rips Hamilton police leaders
    by Kevin Shea/The Times
    Friday May 16, 2008, 10:29 PM

    HAMILTON -- The township police department is adrift with a severe lack of command leadership, according to a scathing report commissioned by Mayor John Bencivengo.

    The much-anticipated 17-page report covers several issues in the 182-member police department, from vehicles to manpower to jail cells and the unventilated basement in police headquarters, where "the smell of confiscated drugs is apparent."

    Click here to download the full report as a PDF file.

    But it's most critical when addressing Police Chief James Collins, Deputy Chief George Zimmer and two police captains, Thomas Bucca and Roger Cullen, none of whom could be reach for comment on Friday.

    One proposal bluntly states, "Encourage the chief, deputy chief and all captains to retire as soon as possible."

    The report, the work of a public safety committee of Bencivengo's transition team, was made public Friday following an Open Public Records Act request by The Times. The committee, formed in December before the mayor took office, was chaired by Albert J. Varga, a retired deputy police chief in the township and former Lambertville police director.

    In it's summary, the report states that the department has many dedicated officers, but they crave leadership.

    "Somehow, some commanders have become insulated from the proactive world of leadership. There is a need for positive and consequential discipline. There is a need for boldness and exchange of ideas, not a rebuttal or discouragement. There is a need to work closer with the community and share information with citizens," it states.

    "A police department's first order is to serve the public," it says. "The mayor with the chief must establish a esprit-de-corps among the police and a sincere relationship with the community."

    Bencivengo also could not be reached for comment Friday, but earlier this month said, "This report, if released to the public, is going to hurt the police department and its integrity."

    The report described Collins as honest and intelligent, but a micro-manager who runs poor meetings, makes untimely decisions and is reluctant to discipline subordinates and not an effective communicator within his department. He has also reduced community programs, it says.

    "The chief is insulated from the public and community at large by his own design," the report said.

    For more of this story, read Saturday's Times

    Contact Kevin Shea kshea@njtimes.com


  3. I am a former employee that worked for the Hamilton Police Dept. I was hired by Asst. Chief Zimmer and found him to be extremely professional and pleasant to work for. I never felt that the Police Dept lacked any professionalism and that they were there to serve and protect the public. I can't say the same service has existed since Mayor Bencivengo took over and I am sad that it destroyed the entire Police Dept. as I had known it. It seems that now there is no one that really is helping our community.

    1. I completely agree with and can relate to this posting. Good to know that there is someone out there on a similiar page. Very sad. It is extremely hard to believe that Mr. Zimmer would commit suicide. Additionally, it seems as if jealousy may have been involved here (i.e. see below posting: 'bringing another man down'-out of/motivated by jealousy for Mr. Zimmer's many accomplishments & contrary to the Township lengthy 'Reports', Mr. Zimmer's popularity (definitely not no respect and lack of leadership) amongst his colleagues. As for the 'guarding of the Mayor,' at the time, what about guarding Mr. Zimmer (the most probable victim) and NOT the most probable guilty party? Again, pathetic.

    2. RIP Mr. Zimmer and thank you for your service with the Township.

    3. As for the Township 'Mayoral' Report: The work performance, interaction with the colleagues (leadership/respect levels) etc. at the Government level is not the business or task of the Township political arena to comment on; And probably should have no impact on the employment processes/events (in this case, demotion etc) regarding the Township Police Department and/or the Municipal Court. Let the Government employees/supervisors at these places (not the politicians/Mayor/Council etc) do their job by commenting on/addressing their employees' work performance and everything else. Government (here, the HTMC/HTPD) and political issues are two separate areas and they should be handled as such. It is an absolute joke that the Township Mayor/Council/politicians, etc took it upon themselves to compose a Report that they ultimately had no direct knowledge of and/or entitlement to comment on the included information.

  4. George Zimmer and his father before him Chief George Zimmer Sr. were both good, honest, kind, humble, hardworking, upstanding men. May God rest their souls in heaven above. May Mayor Bencivengo (sp)forever recognize the blood on his hands....it sickens me what he did to George Jr....making a name for himself while bringing another man down. Cowardly and cold, the opposite of the Zimmers.

  5. As we have seen, time has revealed who Bencivengo was and is.


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