Saturday, June 10, 2023

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

The premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and announcements in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Chief R. Bruce Phillips
May 22, 2018

Chief R. Bruce Phillips Respected and Remembered

By Deirdre Flanagan Ward

Chief R. Bruce Phillips

The Holmdel Community United Church of Christ was packed as friends, family and colleagues gathered to pay their respects to an icon in the community – Holmdel Police Chief, R. Bruce Phillips (79) who passed away peacefully on March 11, 2018.

Chief Phillips served 39 years on the Holmdel Township Police Department – 33 years as the Chief of Police. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He was also an integral part of the community, serving as a friend, mentor, and a source of inspiration to all he knew.  And as much as he was admired and respected collectively, individually he influenced and even changed the lives of many.

One of the contributions posted to the online memorial site read: “He seemed to see the best in people and wanted them to do well. He was community-minded and really cared about the people he served. I remember him as a very good friend to my father, Wes Buck, always helping Dad in any way that he could. A wonderful man, who left a lasting impression on those he met.”

Chief Phillips, a former athlete, appeared to excel at most everything he put his mind toward. He stood out in baseball and football attaining all state and conference honors. He attended the Brooklyn Dodgers spring training in Vero Beach, and played semi-pro football with the Bayshore Red Wings. He was a member of the Red Bank Tire semi-pro national championship baseball team. His sporting accomplishments earned the praise of many, both on and off the field, however the true definition of his success was the respect he received from the community.

“The Chief was a mentor, advocate and friend to so many of us growing up.  His pushing for excellence, combined with his great advice made us better in whatever we did.  I consider myself very fortunate and blessed to have known him.”
  Christopher G. Gaffney,

“Bruce was quite a stoic figure throughout Holmdel, not only to the adult residents but to the youth as well. He always treated me and spoke to me with a demeanor that was respectful and at the same time fatherly. He loved the ‘y’s at the end of people’s names. Bobby, Johnny, Tommy, Dicky. There are far and few men like The Chief. I remember I always addressed him as Mr. Phillips and he would respond “Bobby, call me Bruce”. I never did. He was always Mr. Phillips.” Bob Cione

Chief Phillips served on the Advisory Board of the IACP State Association, Foundation Board of Bayshore Community Hospital. He founded the New Jersey Law Enforcement Memorial Service, the NJ Police/ Security Expo and Conference, Bayshore Narcotics Task Force, Holmdel Police Youth Academy, Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention Team, School Resource Officer program, Holmdel Neighborhood Watch and Holmdel Police K-9 unit amongst many other civic and community-based organizations.

“The Chief was a great man who believed in second chances. He helped many and judged none. His sense of humor and positive example will live on in our hearts and minds.” Sean P. Flanagan

After the service, the Holmdel Township Police Department lead an honorable and noble procession throughout town, passing by Town Hall, where a rider-less horse kept watch. (A rider-less horse with riding boots reversed represents a fallen leader looking back on his troops and family for the last time.)

“Although Chief Phillips is no longer with us, his legacy will live on forever. His hard work, dedication, and devotion to the community will continue to shine through and positively impact Holmdel Township for many years to come.” The Holmdel Police Department