TOMS RIVER-When international cricket superstar MS Dhoni made a visit to a Toms River temple last week, it highlighted Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy’s neverending community outreach effort with the county’s diverse cultural sub-communities. Since his days as chief of the Toms River Police Department, Mastronardy was always on the front lines with his officers, leading from the front.
It was no different when Dhoni came to town and the Siddhi Vinayak temple asked for added security for the V.I.P.
“We have very good relationships with all of Ocean County’s diverse communities,” Mastronardy said. “They asked us to come and we were there.”
Mastronardy joined Dhoni on stage and welcomed him to Toms River, one of his first and only U.S. appearances.
Dhoni is an internationally recognized sports superstar and one of the top paid professional athletes in the world. Mastronardy said he knew Dhoni was a V.I.P., but didn’t realize how popular he is worldwide.
Dhoni has more Facebook followers than Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Donald Trump…combined.
“Really?” Mastronardy said. “I had no idea.”
Over the past few decades, Ocean County has transformed into an extremely diverse community with many different cultures. Toms River has Muslim mosques, hindu temples and a large population of Orthodox Jews.
Mastronardy said it’s important for he and his officers to familiarize themselves with rules and traditions of each culture in order for his officers to do their job properly and effectively when engaging with members of each community.
Photo by Gunjesh Desai, masaljunction.com, used with permission.
For more photos of the event, check out Masal Junction’s photo gallery.