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People on the Move: Lieutenant Ross Licitra
06/27/2008 - By Teja Anderson
Like father, like sonA true Jersey boy, Ross Licitra chose to start his family here in Marlboro, with his beautiful wife Heather and a menagerie of animals. Heather, an Elite model and cover girl and the daughter of famous Shore Regional coach Fred Kampf, caught Ross’s eye when she was a teenager and Ross was a foot patrolman in West Long Branch, but the 5-year age difference held him back. It was a chance meeting at a gas station (when she was 21) that compelled him to ask her out. On their very first date at Anthony’s in Brielle they both knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they would be married. Ross, Heather, and their adorable 3-year-old daughter, Gianna Isabella, now enjoy tending to their “gentleman’s farm.” Ross, with his exceptional carpentry skills, turned the wreck of a house they bought in 1999 into a picturesque, Williamsburg-style home; the farm features a perfect red barn, meticulous workshop filled with painstakingly refurbished tools and restored machines, and a shiny red tractor. But it is his lifetime career in law enforcement that makes Ross such an asset to the community.
Born in Long Branch, Ross grew up in Eatontown and graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School and Monmouth College (now Monmouth University), where he started his police career as a patrolman/campus police officer at the age of 18. After several years of solid police work, he joined the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office in 1986 as a detective; he then became a sergeant and, finally, a lieutenant in 2004. He always knew he was going to be a cop; his father, Frank R. Licitra, was one of Monmouth County’s most respected and renowned figures in the law enforcement community, and more importantly, Ross’s idol. “To see him in that State Trooper uniform was so impressive, it was unbelievable.” Frank Licitra had several careers, but it was his long and illustrious career in law enforcement that had the most impact on Ross. After many impressive assignments he retired in 1976; he then served as Long Branch’s Director of Public Safety for 2 years before becoming chief of the County Prosecutor’s Office.
It was at that time that Ross, at age 44, was employed as a Lieutenant in the Criminal Investigative Division of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office. Although his job is not as dangerous as in his undercover days, he says “working undercover gambling was my favorite”; it‘s the excitement and the thrill of the job that he loves most, not the governmental red tape. “If we have raided one, we’ve raided 3,000 houses; we’ve jumped out of windows, been in car chases, chased people with helicopters, been attacked by pitbulls…you name it, we’ve done it, and we’ve seen it all!”
Ross has seen the use of marijuana, cocaine, speed, and alcohol, remain fairly constant, but indicates that there’s a rise in heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), and prescription drug abuse among younger children. He attributes this trend to peer pressure and, in wealthier communities, even boredom. “Every time I go into the schools and meet with the parents I get asked, ‘How can I tell if my kid is on drugs?’ and I tell them, ‘You know your kid better than anyone. If you think that something is going on with your child, 99.9% of the time you are right.’ ” Ross says adamantly.
Community service is extremely important to Ross, who [for the past 3 years] has served on the Board of Directors for Prevention First, a community outreach group. Before he died 8 years ago, Ross’s father instilled in him that he should never forget that he was here to serve and “to be a person of merit and reputation.” He always said, “Let a man rob you of everything except your reputation, because without it you are nothing. But if you have nothing left except your reputation, you can always rebuild.” Great words to live by!
Favorite restaurant: Mom’s Kitchen, Neptune
Favorite music: classical, country, and 1940’s Big Band swing
Favorite movie: Gone With the Wind
Pet peeve: being late
Three people you would like to have dinner with: Norm Abram, PBS’s master carpenter and star of ”This Old House” and “The New Yankee Workshop,” any U.S. President, and my father
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