by Jillian Risberg
“Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I stayed so long because I thought I could make it better,” Bolcar says. “The town has changed immensely but it’s a good town, people love to live here and I like to believe I had something to do with that.”
Bolcar’s law enforcement career began in February 1958 as a patrolman. He later moved through the ranks to sergeant, lieutenant and eventually deputy chief of the Hanover Police Department.
During his time as lieutenant, the 81-year-old says the chief put him in charge of the school guards.
“I did that up until 1993 when I retired from the police department,” Bolcar says. “Then the chief asked me do him a favor for another couple of days. Well, that was 25 years later.”
Knowing it was a collaborative effort, Bolcar had nothing but praise for the police department, the fire department- “Everyone I came in contact with,” he says.
“They sold 6,000 tickets at $1 apiece and that was my plane fare,” he says. “You think people are not watching, they’re not listening — but they are and it opened my eyes that maybe I am worth something to my residents.”
Bolcar looks back on his journey fondly.
“In my mind, I was driving a bus,” he says. “Over 60 years, people got on, people got off. My friends got on, enemies got on and we made them friends. I have to thank each one of them because they’re the ones that helped me.”
He doesn’t have a college education but that never stopped him.
“I’m an old farm boy,” born right down the street, he says. Everything I know- common sense, I learned probably on a farm. And that took me through the 60 years.”
“He grew up on North Jefferson Road and he still lives on North Jefferson Road,” says Det. Dave Littman, who called Bolcar a mentor.
But Bolcar didn’t always want to be a police officer.
“In those days the police chief had to ask my father’s permission to talk to me about becoming a police officer,” he says.
One night at dinner, Bolcar told his father ‘No way.’
“He says, ‘Well you know, your mother and I would be proud that you became a police officer,’” recalled Bolcar. “I still said no. The next day he said, ‘You can make a difference.’ Sixty years later I hope I did.”
Littman calls him a cops-cop, very old school in his thinking and always on their side.
“Several years ago when the recession hit and another ex-cop, who was the mayor at the time wanted to lay off cops, Steve stood up in front of the whole town and protested,” Littman says. “His blood is blue, it really is.”
“From 1980 ’til today we have not had one child injured coming home or going to school,” he says.”
Littman attributes that to the training the former deputy provided, and the oversight that he had for all the crossing guards.
“He made sure all the corners were covered, made sure everybody had the proper uniforms, everything from A to Z,” the detective says.
Then he got involved with Juvenile Conference Committees, a six to nine member citizen volunteer panel appointed by the New Jersey Family Division Judge to hear and decide matters concerning alleged juvenile offenders.
“Our main purpose back then was to try to help a child that had a problem,” Bolcar says. “And I think we did a pretty good job for the 25 years that I was there. It wasn’t because we gave them punishment. We did it so the kid got better instead of going down the wrong side of the road.”
And his contributions to Hanover don’t stop there.
Veterans’ memorial outside the municipal building is the brainchild of Bolcar and he says so is the memorial at Veteran’s Field.
He also worked with the Public Safety Committee, which handles concerts at the park, football games, Hanover Township Day and they were always trying to make things safer for the kids.
When it came to the clap-out, it was Bolcar’s life in technicolor.
“I felt that after 60 years of service, whether it be to the police department or just the town itself, he deserved some recognition,” Littman says, adding that he wanted to celebrate him and celebrate the sacrifice that his family made.
“It’s been a long ride but we’re still here,” the former deputy chief says. “I’ve got a beautiful wife, three daughters married, six grandkids and that’s what I live for.”