He was recently honored by the New Jersey Chiefs of Police Association
Richard Dreby’s long career in public safety began in 1971, the year he graduated from Palmyra High School and became a firefighter.
He later served as Palmyra’s police chief and Burlington County’s public safety director. More than four decades after joining the borough’s fire department, Dreby, 65, is still involved — as the safety and security officer at his alma mater, Palmyra High.
“I like to stay active,” Dreby said. “I really do love the public safety field.”
On May 3, Dreby was honored with life membership in the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police Association. He served as chief of the Palmyra Police Department from 1998 to 2008.
Joining the fire company was a natural first step for Dreby after high school. His dad was a firefighter, and several other members of his family were involved with the department and the ladies auxiliary.
“It was kind of in our blood to get involved,” Dreby said.
He became a police officer in 1976, and worked his way up to sergeant, lieutenant and finally chief in 1998. After 10 years, Dreby retired from the department and moved on to work as director of public safety for the county.
Dreby began working for the borough’s school district in 2014. He’s also the chief of Independence Fire Company and executive coordinator of Palmyra’s Office of Emergency Management.
“I enjoy working with the folks to keep them safe and to continue to work with the local authorities, especially in the school system,” Dreby said.
Dreby handles security at the high school and the Charles Street School. He also serves as the district’s residency and truancy officer and the point person between the district and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.
“I’m in charge of the emergency plan for the school district,” Dreby explained. “I’m involved with the security for all of the buildings.”
“I want to be part of trying to keep the school safe,” he added.
Dreby said he tries to impart to students the importance of staying out of trouble and keeping their record clean.
“What they do today is going to affect them” down the line, Dreby said.
He said working in law enforcement and public safety has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Dreby also said he’s going to keep working in the field until he feels he has nothing left to offer.
“I’m proud to serve,” Dreby said.