Sea Isle City Police Officer Tom Ready receives the Michael "Mickey" Cullinane Officer of the Year Award for 2018.

By Donald Wittkowski

At 16 years old, most high school sophomores are thinking about getting their driver’s license, how they’re going to fit in with the upperclassmen and perhaps flirting with the idea of attending college.

When he was that age, Tom Ready had more concrete plans for his future – he had already decided on his career.

“In my sophomore yearbook, I said aloud that what I wanted to do was become a cop,” Ready recalled of his days at Triton Regional High School in Camden County.

Since 2010, the 32-year-old Ready has fulfilled his career goal by serving as an officer with the Sea Isle City Police Department. However, he is not your average cop.

“Not to diminish what the other officers do, but Tom just takes it to another level,” Police Chief Tom McQuillen said.

Honoring Ready for his dedication to law enforcement and the community, the department has named him the Michael “Mickey” Cullinane Officer of the Year for 2018.

The award is named in memory of the only Sea Isle police officer ever killed in the line of duty. Cullinan 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.

The honor recognizes an officer who continually stands out among his peers. On its Facebook page announcing the award, the Sea Isle Police Department noted that Ready “has always been a model Officer for others to emulate. It’s just that this year, he was able to do even more to separate himself from his Peers.”

“He’s not the kind of guy who takes his job lightly,” McQuillen pointed out.

Among his accomplishments, Officer Tom Ready leads the department in the number of DWI arrests.

Ready was the unanimous choice for Officer of the Year by a selection committee comprised of his fellow officers, including McQuillen.

Among his accomplishments, Ready has led the department in DWI arrests for three years in a row. He is a fixture in Sea Isle, often showing up at public events when he is off duty to support the department’s community outreach programs.

“You only get out of it what you put into it,” Ready said of his commitment to his job. “It’s important to make sure you practice what you preach – that you’re the best version of what you can be in the uniform.”

The selection committee also applauded Ready’s investigative skills, his “Narcan saves” using the drug overdose antidote and his eagerness to sign up for new training.

Ready explained that police officers constantly need to retrain themselves to keep up on the latest trends, innovations and techniques. If they don’t, “you’re getting left in the dust,” he said.

He also noted that the evolution in illicit drugs in recent years means that police have to keep one step ahead of the criminals.

“We’re seeing drugs now that weren’t around 10 years ago,” he said.

Ready emphasized the dangers presented by people while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He takes pride in leading the department in the number of DWI arrests for the past three years.

“People are going to (drive under the influence) so we have to get them before they potentially harm anyone or cause damage,” he said.

Ready is the first police officer in his family. He grew up in Blackwood, Camden County, and attended Rowan University, where he majored in law and justice and graduated in 2009.

“I guess it’s really the only thing I wanted to do,” he said of becoming a police officer.

While he was still living in Camden County, he was encouraged by some of his friends who were seasonal police officers in Sea Isle to come to the resort town. His first job with the Sea Isle City Police Department was as a seasonal officer on the bike patrol.

“I got here and I fell in love with the place,” he said.

Other Sea Isle City police officers receiving awards include:

Distinguished Service:
Patrolman Vincent Haugh

Meritorious Service:
Sergeant Steven Conte
Patrolman Thomas Ready
Patrolman Joshua Rinck

Patrolman Tully O’Clisham
Patrolman Alexander Symanski
Patrolman Shawn Lesniewski
Patrolman Kirk J. Rohrer

Certificate of Exceptional Duty:
Patrolman Michael Mol
Patrolman Shawn Lesniewski
Patrolman Alexander Symanski
Patrolman Branden Piper
Patrolman Thomas Ready
Dispatcher Thomas Delozier
Patrolman Kirk J. Rohrer
Patrolman Stephen Jankowski
Dispatcher Steven Myers
Detective Nicholas Giordano