Promoted Plainsboro Police officers (from left) Sgt. Martin McElrath, Sgt. Russell Finkelstein, Lt. Brett Olma, Chief Fred Tavener, Cpl. Mathieu Baumann and Cpl. Scott Beatty at the swearing in ceremony held Feb. 1, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Plainsboro Township.)

The Plainsboro Police Department has made a number of promotions to leadership positions within the past few months—including the man at the top.

In December, Fred Tavener was appointed to the position of chief following the retirement of Chief Guy Armour.

In addition to the chief’s job, five officers were promoted effective Feb. 1, said deputy mayor Neil Lewis, who is the township committee liaison to the police department.

“Chief Tavener has a stellar record, was hired back in 1997, and he’s gone through the ranks, into the various divisions, including special services and internal affairs.”

Lewis said Tavener was chosen after a process that included only internal candidates. The township opted to hire from within since there were a number of qualified lieutenants to choose from.

“He’s (Tavener) got a master’s in administration, he’s a certified public manager and he was ultimately the one we went with for the new chief,” said Lewis. “Chief Tavener has done an excellent job over the years, and we were really delighted to promote him, as someone who is sensitive to the needs of the community, the needs of the department, and work effectively with the structure.”

Meanwhile, the officers promoted in February were Brett Olma, to the rank of lieutenant; Russell Finkelstein and Martin McElrath, to sergeant; and Scott Beatty and Mathieu Baumann, to corporal. A recent newsletter article by the township gave information on the new officers, and some of that is reported below.

Olma, who took over command of the Patrol Division, joined the department in 2003 as a patrol officer. For six months in 2009, he was assigned to the Middlesex County Task Force, an investigative unit whose membership include County Prosecutor’s Office detectives and police officers from various Middlesex towns. He was promoted to corporal in 2010.

Olma was assigned to the newly formed position of administrative corporal in 2012. He has served as a firearms instructor and was a member of the Middlesex County Special Operations Response Team, which is responsible for the resolution of hostage situations.

He was promoted to sergeant in 2014 and assigned to the Patrol Division. In 2017 he was assigned to the Traffic Safety Bureau, where he oversaw traffic and community policing initiatives. Olma has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rutgers University.

Finkelstein joined the department in 2003 as an officer in the Patrol Division. He is a drug recognition expert, a DARE instructor, firearms instructor, and #NotEvenOnce (an anti-drug campaign) instructor. In 2007, Finkelstein was assigned to the detective bureau and was a member of SORT.

He was promoted to corporal in the Patrol Division in 2010, and reassigned to administrative corporal in 2014. In that role, he oversaw the dispatchers and emergency service technicians. He also participated as a bicyclist in the Police Unity Tour in 2015, 2016 and 2017. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

McElrath was assigned to the newly formed Administrative Sergeant position. McElrath joined the department in 2009 and was assigned to the Patrol Division. In October 2011 he was assigned to the Detective Bureau as the juvenile detective.

McElrath was promoted to corporal in 2014, and was instrumental in developing and implementing the department’s Body Worn Camera initiative.

In his new assignment McElrath will oversee the newly instituted Class III Officer program (police stationed in WW-P District Schools), accreditation, computer services, dispatchers, and emergency service technicians. McElrath has a bachelor’s degree from Stockton University and a master’s from Fairleigh Dickinson.

Beatty joined the department in 2008 as a patrol officer, and was assigned to the Traffic Safety Bureau in 2011. In 2012 he was assigned to the newly formed IT Officer position, where he worked to implement Spillman, the department’s newly upgraded computer-aided dispatch and report writing software, along with many other upgrades to the department’s infrastructure.

In 2014, Beatty was assigned to the Detective Bureau as the Juvenile Detective. He was a DARE instructor/coordinator, #NotEvenOnce instructor, firearms instructor, and helped create the Plainsboro Community Addiction Recovery Effort. Beatty has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers and a master’s from Fairleigh Dickinson.

Baumann joined the department in 2008, and was assigned to the patrol division, where he became dealt with vehicle maintenance issues. He was a DARE instructor, self defense instructor, and #NotEvenOnce instructor.

In 2014 he was assigned to the position of IT officer, and oversaw continued improvements to department infrastructure projects. In 2018, he was assigned to the detective bureau as a juvenile detective. Baumann has a bachelor’s degree from Stockton and a master’s from Fairleigh Dickinson.

Tavener said all of the officers exemplify the agency’s motto of Commitment to Excellence. “I look forward to working with them as part of our management and leadership team,” he said.

Siddharth Muchhal contributed to the reporting for this story.