BY JACK DAVIS
Joey Fields has always had an interest in pursuing the betterment of people. Not because it was something he was told to do, but because it was something he knew, in his heart, was the right thing to do. Growing up on the West Side of Red Bank, in a predominantly black neighborhood, Fields and many other people from all different neighborhoods and walks of life were forced to interact and learn beside one another once they reached high school.
As Fields said, “Coming to Red Bank Regional, we had kids from Shrewsbury, Little Silver, the white community and it sort of merged us together. Red Bank Regional was sort of like a melting pot for me, so I got to interact with a lot of different people, and meet people, and talk to people that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gone to school here.”
Going to RBR also prepared him and influenced him positively to be a police officer, though he may not have known it at the time.
He explains, “The school gave me a sense of comfort. I felt safe while in school. The staff was great and was there for me. I was given a fair chance to succeed. I feel I brought that to the field (of policing).”
Joey Fields, a twenty-six-year veteran of the Red Bank Police department, rose to the rank of sergeant and has distinguished himself as a DARE Officer and Gang Resistance Education trainer. In today’s environment, it’s refreshing to see Joey Fields isn’t the judgmental type. Recognizing how quick people can be to judge, he encourages being calm, cool, and collected, and giving whatever, or whomever, a second chance.
He states, “People are often just too quick with knee jerk reactions. If everyone was more patient, and thought, ‘Okay, let’s see how this turns out,’ many problems could be solved.”
Fields worked in the juvenile division for some of his tenure as a police officer.
Of that experience he states, “A lot of people are hesitant now when it comes to the police, and their kids in dealing with the police. I liked when I worked in the juvenile division. I was assigned to the schools, so just working with the kids, being more proactive than reactive, having the ability to get in touch with the youth while they were young, just made it that much easier. When the kids are involved with someone positive, or someone the kids can come home and talk about then they are more apt to be comfortable in their community.”
Fields makes his home in Toms River with his wife Lenise and their son Joey and daughter Jaida. In order to stay connected to the community he works in, he regularly attends events in the town citing the need to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between citizens and the police. He explains how people can be so against the police with preconceived opinions that it’s good to be hands on, not just to interact with people, but to really know them. He practices what he preaches. He organized and ran the Aslan adult Ministries basketball league and the F.L.A.G. Fathers Love and Guidance flag football league. He mentored the male youth program at Lunch Break, and he has been an active member of the Calvary Baptist Church in the Red Bank Community.
For all his efforts, he has been recognized by the NAACP with their award for service in the community. He was also invited to RBR last year as an inspiring keynote speaker for black history month. He encouraged the students to always give back to their community, as their community really needs them.
He left them with the message, “Everyone is going to face adversity in their lives. You can overcome it, but remember; you author your own stories…you write the script of your life.”
Sergeant Fields also cites being fair to people as a general necessity. “I think anyone who has come across me would feel they were treated fairly. I think that’s all people really want. No one wants to be treated wrong, or mistreated or wrongly accused or anything like that.”
Considering his experience with kids, his rewarding career as a police officer, and doing his best to make sure that he models good morals and a good heart for the youth of Red Bank, Joey Fields has one piece of advice he would like to bestow on students of RBR, stating, “When you do what I do, it’s tough. Because you know, all of the moments aren’t going to be nice, but what you have to do in whatever profession you chose, is always just try to respect, be fair, and be patient.”