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FTPD Gets First Black Captain; Two Others Promoted

Capt. Sean Hebbon is the first Black Captain in Franklin Township Police Department history. He is pictured here in 2013 after being sworn in as a Sergeant.

The Franklin Township Police Department’s first Black Captain is set to be formally sworn in to his post during the October 13 virtual Township Council meeting.

Capt. Sean Hebbon, a nearly 24-year veteran of the FTPD, is one of three members of the force who were recently promoted to Captain.

Also being formally sworn in to their Captain’s rank at the meeting are Capt. Phil Rizzo and Capt. Brian Regan.

Hebbon was able to be promoted to Captain from the rank of Detective Sergeant as a result of the Council recently approving a change to the township ordinance concerning police promotions. In making the promotion, Hebbon was able to skip the rank of Lieutenant.

“In an effort to broaden the candidate pool, the ordinance was changed to allow Sergeants who were with the FTPD for 10 years, and Sergeants for at least five, to take the test,” Rizzo, who is the department’s public information officer, said in an email.

Hebbon has been a Sergeant for seven years, Rizzo said.

Hebbon has a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  After graduating the Academy, Hebbon was assigned as an officer in the Patrol Division.

In 2001 Captain Hebbon was made a Detective and assigned to the Investigative Division. As a Detective, he was assigned to the FBI’s Innocent Images Task Force to combat child pornography and the exploitation of children.  He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2013 and was assigned to the Patrol Division. In 2016 he was promoted to Detective Sergeant and oversaw a Detective Squad and the Community Relations Bureau.

Public Safety Director Quovella Spruill said in a statement that Hebbon’s promotion is an “historic moment for the Township of Franklin. Captain Hebbon’s appointment was earned based upon his experience within the Department and vision for community relations and services to the Franklin Township community.”

Hebbon will command the Investigative Division, which includes Adult & Juvenile Investigations, along with the Community Relations Bureau.

Rizzo, a 23-year veteran of the FTPD, holds a Bachelor’s Degree from The College of New Jersey and a Master’s Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Prior to joining the Franklin Police Department, Captain Rizzo was an Officer with the Seaside Park Police Department.  In 1997 he joined the FTPD as an Officer and was assigned to the Patrol Division.  In 2001 Captain Rizzo became a member of the Neighborhood Police Teams and then a member of the Special Investigations Bureau in 2003. 

In 2008 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and oversaw the Bureau of Community Relations.  In 2016 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant where he was the Day Shift Commander within the Patrol Division and then later oversaw the Professional Services Division.

Rizzo, Spruill said in a statement, “demonstrated that he understands the needs of the department and the community.  He recognizes the growth potential in all of the great men and women who serve this agency.”

Rizzo is the commander of the Professional Standards Division, which includes Internal Affairs, Administration, Accreditation, Special Permits and Records.

A 20-year FTPD veteran, Regan is a veteran of the US Navy and prior to joining the FTPD he served as an Officer with the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department.

Regan possesses a Bachelor’s Degree from Ramapo College and a Master’s Degree from Seton Hall University. Captain Regan started his career in Franklin Township in the Patrol Division in 2000.  In 2004 he was assigned to the Investigative Division as a Detective.  In 2012 he was promoted to Detective Sergeant where he oversaw the Juvenile Bureau and Evidence Function of the agency.

He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 2016 and became the Midnight Shift Commander within the Patrol Division.  Captain Regan has been designated as the Officer in Charge and Patrol Commander.

“Captain Regan is fair and possesses the integrity needed to assist in leading the Franklin Township Police Department,” Spruill said in a statement.

“I am proud of all three men who have proven they recognize the needs of the department and most importantly our community,” Spruill said in the statement. “This marks a new era for the Franklin Township Police Department.”

Hebbon’s promotion comes 71 years after Naaman Williams was hired as the township’s first Black police officer. Williams served from 1949 to 1974, retiring as a Lieutenant.

The promotions also come after the township settled a discrimination and harassment lawsuit brought by FTPD Lt. Kristen Durham, who alleged a pattern of discrimination against her by former supervisors of the FTPD, including former Chief Lawrence Roberts and former Chief Richard Grammar.

Durham also claimed there was a pattern of racial discrimination in the FTPD, resulting in no African American officers rising above the grade of Sergeant while they were bypassed by White officers with less experience. Durham claimed that she was retaliated against when she complained about the alleged discrimination.

The township settled the lawsuit with a $300,000 payment to Durham, and an agreement to allow her to stay on paid administrative leave through June 2021, at which time she will retire with 25 years of service on the FTPD.

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