A veteran detective in the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office has been named a 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award nominee.
Sgt. Miguel Rubert has dedicated 25 years to investigating crimes in the Special Victims and Community Outreach and Engagement units and crimes of sexual assault, among other duties.
He was hand picked to serve the office, something Rubert finds humbling. But Chief Robert Ferris believes it is perfect for the veteran detective, which is why he hates to see Rubert go.
“I (wish) somebody could convince him not to retire,” joked Ferris, who faces Rubert’s departure on Feb. 1.
County Public Information Officer Donna Weaver will miss Rubert’s positive, humble outlook on life.
“To meet Miguel and see (the other officers) out in the community constantly, at events, at soup kitchens … it is just so inspiring to me,” she said. “I’m going to miss (him) so much.”
“Sgt. Rubert is a true community hero,” prosecutor Grace MacAulay noted. “He is a man of great empathy and understanding. Every day, he makes a difference in the lives of others. His impact on our community is immeasurable.”
Born and raised in Camden, Rubert said the desire to impact his hometown began at an early age.
“I would have to talk for hours to name all of the people who inspired me, who helped me,” Rubert acknowledged.
But that inspiration seemed to stem from one thing: faith, beliefs Rubert was taught by his parents to carry into adult life. One hometown church he was especially close to was Holy Name, a Jesuit Catholic congregation. Rubert identified with the Jesuit educational teaching that became a deep inspiration to him.
“Give a hungry man a fish, he eats for a day,’’ he said, referencing a Bible quote. “Teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime. I think they instilled that. I can not only learn through education and help myself, but I also have the opportunity to help others, the youth.”
One youth program dear to him is The Bridge.
“Honestly when I first heard, ‘We are going to the bridge,’ I thought we were going over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Philadelphia,” he recalled. “And here we go to a place, a room at Our Lady of Lourdes, which provided a place for kids to come to.”
Rubert couldn’t believe that a group of volunteers could hold his attention and that of others for 45 minutes.
“What is this all about?” asked Rubert, who added, “the volunteers and talking is what it was all about.”
He eventually volunteered for The Bridge, enabling him to get involved in the community. One incident Rubert remembered as shaping his commitment to help Camden youth, was the infamous 1991 mischief night. That night before Halloween was the single busiest day for a fire department in U.S. history. A record 133 fires were reported, almost all of them after the city’s curfew and by all accounts caused by city teenagers.
“That was a life-changing event for the community,” Rubert said. “The community got together and said, this is going to happen again. With (help) from the churches, community leaders, grassroot organizations, our youth got involved …
“It inspired me and others to engage in the community.”
Rubert is proud of the work he’s done as a detective, mostly his involvement with the Community Outreach and Engagement Unit, created just over a year ago with the appointment of MacAulay.
The section chief is Assistant Prosecutor Sonja Furlow and the Unit Commander is Deputy Chief Terry King .
“The core mission of our unit is to bridge the gap between the community and the police,” Rubert explained. “It allows me on a different platform to effect change from different levels. Change is good in our youth groups, but being a sergeant with the unit made a lot of difference for a lot of people.
“I’m very, very proud of that.”
The senior detective’s final day in the prosecutor’s office may be approaching, but Rubert plans to remain involved with the Camden community, volunteer more and even explore new county organizations. He also looks forward to more time with his wife and daughter and extended vacations.
“Instead of two weeks of vacation, maybe two months now,” he said with a chuckle.
The full list of 2023 MLK Freedom Medal is available on the Camden County website. Pictures from the awards will be available on Facebook.