HomeBerlin NewsThe top stories of the year

The top stories of the year

Two police department events and batter up in Berlin

As we come to the end of 2023 and look forward to the new year, the Sun looks back at the top three stories that stood out this year in Berlin Borough.

New Berlin Borough Police Chief Michael Scheer succeeds 29-year veteran Millard Wilkinson.

Shaping a police chief

- Advertisement -

Berlin Borough swore in a new chief, Michael Scheer, in 2023. We featured his promotion in a February story headlinedm “New chief describes ‘passion’ for police work,” by Patrick McDaid.

Scheer took the oath of office before a full courtroom as he replaced Millard Wilkinson, a 29-year veteran who retired to begin a new career as a borough councilman. Scheer – a 20-year veteran – was hired by the police department in 2003 and eventually claimed the roles of patrol officer, detective, detective-sergeant and lieutenant.

His passion for police work began at an early age, when he developed a relationship with his stepfather, Gloucester Township officer George McCall.

“Being a young child, seeing him put the uniform on and go to work every day undoubtedly had an impact on me,” Scheer recalled. “Later in life, I realized it’s what I wanted to do. It was my passion.” 

Scheer has a bachelor’s in law and justice from Rowan University and later joined the police academy as an alternate route candidate. It was 2011 when Scheer considered a department change in the detective bureau. 

“From 2011 to 2019 is when my career took a different path, learning the ins and outs (of police work),” recalled Scheer, who added that the connections he made while working as a detective shaped his foundation as a police officer today.

“I met so many different people who were influences on my career, (in different) agencies,” he observed. “The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, state police, FBI – just different local municipalities … We (worked) hand in hand with so many different agencies.”

Scheer specifically noted the help of retired chief Bill Townsend during a year-long sexual assault investigation that began in 2011. He said Townsend helped him gain a better understanding of case processing, not only in sexual assault cases, but law enforcement across the board.

“The conversation I had was influential in where (I wanted) my career to go,” Scheer noted.

Photos courtesy of Toronto Blue Jays
“What excites me most is that there is no one more deserving,” Eastern High School head baseball coach Robert Christ said of alumnus Davis Schneider, who stepped up to the plate in his first MLB at bat in August with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Berlin baseball’s Babe

Swinging When Davis Schneider stepped up to the plate in his first Major League Baseball at bat in August, ensuing events became a blur.

Swinging away on a 1-1 breaking pitch against Boston Red Sox starter James Paxton, the 5-foot-9-inch second baseman and Eastern High School alumnus uncorked a solo home run over the Green Monster at historic Fenway Park.

We caught up with the major leaguer in an article “Another ‘Babe’ makes baseball history,” by Alex Murphy, that appeared in a September issue.

From being picked in the 28th round of the 2017 baseball draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, to that huge hit in Fenway, all Schneider wanted was a chance to play. Not only has he gotten that chance, he’s having one of the hottest starts by any hitter in Major League history.

“When I had my first at bat, everything kind of happened so fast,” Schneider recalled. “I don’t even remember taking a swing or anything like that. It just happened … That weekend, same thing.

“It was a really cool moment.”

Through the beginning of September and his first 21 games in the bigs, Schneider has the highest slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of any hitter in MLB history, and is batting .403, with seven home runs and 19 RBIs.

His first weekend saw Schneider record nine hits in three games, the first player in MLB history to have such numbers in his first three big-league games. After reaching base four times on Sept. 8, he tied the modern-day record for most times on base through a player’s first 21 games by reaching base 46 times.

“What excites me most is that there is no one more deserving,” Eastern head baseball coach Robert Christ said. “Davis is such a good person. His character is phenomenal. He’s just a salt-of-the-earth-type kid and he’s got an amazing work ethic.”

Schneider’s journey began at Eastern, where he made varsity as a freshman and eventually played third base for the Vikings. He was one of the leaders of the school program, one of the best players in the Olympic Conference, and a budding star.

In the halls at Eastern are jerseys that represent some of the best players who went there. From field hockey to baseball, football to women’s soccer, the Vikings have a decorated history of athletic excellence that includes the NFL’s Logan Ryan, Eli Apple, field hockey Olympian Rachel Dawson.

And Davis Schneider.

“Seeing those names up there, it’s pretty cool because there’s been a lot of talent that’s come out of Eastern,” Schneider noted. “Now being one of those people, it’s pretty special, because when I was in high school, you walk through those halls every day, you see those jerseys up there and think, ‘Damn, that would be cool to be up there and be part of that group.'”

Schneider was nicknamed Babe in Toronto, and he is the talk of the town, a fan favorite who became an American League Rookie of the Year candidate. But just getting an opportunity to create his own MLB story is all Schneider has wanted from the start.

“I played in the minors for six-and-a-half years and I had a lot of rough spots throughout those years,” he said. “Getting that call from the same organization that drafted you was a big deal …

“They want me to be here, so I have to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Courtesy of Berlin Borough Police Department Facebook
Jimmy Nunn holds the 2023 Citizen Appreciation Award, an honor that recognizes his kindnesses to Berlin police.

Supporting police

Lastly as we round our top three stories of the year, we meet Jimmy Nunn.

In a gesture of gratitude, the law-enforcement community recently came together to honor Nunn – a well-known police supporter – with the Berlin police department’s 2023 Citizen Appreciation Award, The Sun reported this week.

The award winner is chosen randomly by the Berlin department from among individuals or businesses who make it a priority to support officers.

Nunn has for years been known for regular visits to the department, where his is a familiar face. He has demonstrated concern for officers’ well-being by donating cases of water to help keep them hydrated in the summer heat.

But that’s not all. Locally and in the area, Nunn has been known to surprise police with trays of food or a meal order.

The award, in turn, was a surprise for Nunn. As he made yet another visit to the police department to bring food last week, the tables were turned, and Nunn was handed his award.

“To tell you the truth, I went over to give out Christmas tree cupcakes to them, and when I got there they said we have a surprise for you, and it was truly an honor,” he recalled. “It got me choked up a bit.”

Nunn’s contributions to Berlin police began about six years ago, but he also gives to a dozen other departments across South Jersey. He was especially impressed with police who stayed on the job during COVID.

During a brief ceremony as Nunn got his award, Berlin officers expressed their gratitude to him and emphasized that Nunn’s kindnesses drive community support and solidarity in challenging times.


Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue