By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Even though he was still young enough to be watched by a babysitter, Josh Rinck had already made up his mind that he wanted to become a police officer one day.
His neighbor, Bryan McCoy, the father of Rinck’s best friend, Matt McCoy, was a State Trooper who had police dogs.
When he was only seven or eight years old, Rinck would get permission from his babysitter to go across the street to see McCoy’s dogs. The experience stoked his imagination.
“I always wanted to be a K-9 officer,” Rinck recalled of growing up in Upper Township.
Now 25, Rinck has his own dogs, a golden retriever named Guinness and a pit bull named Harper. They aren’t K-9s, but Rinck has fulfilled his dream of becoming a cop – an outstanding one as well.
Rinck, a patrolman, has been selected as the Sea Isle City Police Department’s Michael “Mickey” Cullinane Officer of the Year.
The annual award is named in memory of the only Sea Isle police officer ever killed in the line of duty. Cullinane died on Aug. 26, 1992, after he was overcome by lethal gases while rescuing a construction worker from a nearly 30-foot-deep pit during construction of a sewage pumping station.
Police Chief Tom McQuillen said Rinck has repeatedly shown that he is able to meet the high standards set by Cullinane for Sea Isle’s officers.
“His level of professionalism is extraordinary,” McQuillen said. “He’s a dedicated officer who gives everything to the department.”
The Officer of the Year award recognizes members of the police department who continually stand out among their peers.
“I feel honored,” Rinck said of his award. “Our department is made up of a lot of good officers. I think it’s a competitive race for that award.”
McQuillen said Rinck has distinguished himself by volunteering for assignments, helping to train others and ingraining himself in the local community to support the department’s public outreach programs.
He is often involved in the community as a mentor for young people. He was one of the first officers to volunteer for the police department’s summer “Kids Camp” and is often seen around town interacting with children.
“When you drive around Sea Isle City and you see a cop throwing a football with the kids, most likely it is Josh,” McQuillen said.
Years ago, when he was a child, Rinck himself benefited from a mentor who was in law enforcement. The now-deceased Bryan McCoy, the State Trooper who had the police dogs, would encourage Rinck and his older brother, Matthew, to pursue their dreams.
“He gave us summer jobs in landscaping and kept us on the right track,” Rinck said of McCoy’s influence on him and his brother.
Now, Matthew Rinck, 28, is an Ocean City firefighter. Their father, Roger Rinck, is Ocean City’s manager of engineering and construction.
Josh Rinck, a 2013 Ocean City High School graduate, is the family’s first police officer. He started as a part-time summer officer in Sea Isle, transitioned into police dispatching and then served as a seasonal officer again before he joined the department full time in 2017.
In just four years of service, he has joined the ranks of other distinguished members of the police department by being named Officer of the Year.
“This honor is voted on by every member of our police department and awarded to the officer who is seen as the leading example of what a Sea Isle City Police Officer should be,” the department said on its Facebook page while congratulating Rinck.
“This award recognizes Josh’s dedicated service to our City, as well as his extraordinary performance while he is on patrol. The men and women of the Sea Isle City Police Department are honored and proud to serve with Patrolman Joshua Rinck, and we ask that you please join us in congratulating Josh on a job well done!” the Facebook post added.