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August 22, 2019
12:33 AM

Police Department History  

In Mahwah's early history a variety of police services were conducted by local and county constables, but as the Township started to grow there was a growing demand for more localized police services. In 1913 the homeowners group known as Cragmere Association attempted to have a Township Constable assigned to its neighborhood but were rebuffed by the governing body. In late 1910's Edward Shuart served as the Township constable and was equipped with basic police equipment such as two pair of nippers, a police billy club, a badge and a revolver. Constable Shuart was on call 24 hours a day although he was only required to be on active duty eight hours a day. He was paid based on the number of arrests and calls that he answered although that type of compensation is illegal today.


In 1921 Township Clerk Raymond Dator replaced Shuart and was compensated at the rate of fifty-five cents an hour. In 1924 Dator was also appointed Constable for Bergen County for a three year term and also continued to serve as the first Mahwah Police Officer. In order to address the growing mobility of the community the Township Committee purchased an Indian Big Chief motorcycle in 1925 at a cost of $383.00. At the same time Dator was given a fixed working schedule of seven days a week from 10:110 a.m to 7:00 p.m. He was given one day off every two weeks provided that it was not on a holiday or weekend. In 1926 Dator was given a fixed salary of $1800.00 a year plus $25.00 a month for auto expenses.


In 1928 Dator accepted other Township responsibilities and was replaced by Emile J. Schmidt. In April 1929 ex New Jersey State Trooper Charles E. smith was hired as a patrol officer at an annual salary of $1800.00. In October 1929 the Township Committee passed an Ordinance that created and regulated a formalized Police Department, and patrol officer Smith was appointed Chief was appointed Chief at an annual salary of $2,200. The first Police department was housed on the second floor of the Miller Road firehouse which is no referred to as Company # 1. In January 1933 the police department purchased its first police car which was a Chevy Roadster for $605.00.


In 1937 Edward Wickham was hired as a full time patrol officer and subsequently became the Department's second Police Chief. By 1942 the Department was expanded to four full time police officers. As the Township continued to grow and develop so did the Police Department. Police Headquarters was eventually moved from the top of the Fire House to the second floor of the Municipal Building on Franklin Turnpike.


William Russo was appointed the third Police Chief upon the retirement of Chief Edward Wickham. During his tenure Chief Russo built a police headquarters on Franklin Turnpike in 1973 at a cost of $350,000 which at the time was a very controversial issue among Township residents. Shortly after the retirement of Chief Russo, Mahwah Mayor Frank Kraus promoted Samuel Alderisio as the fourth Police Chief on July 1st, 1985. Under Chief Alderisio the department experienced significant growth and varied technological advancements. 


Following the retirement of Chief Aldersiso, Mayor Richard Martel appointed James N. Batelli as the Department's fifth Police Chief on February 1st, 2001. Under Chief Batelli's direction the Mahwah Police Department became only the third municipal law enforcement agency in the State to receive national accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in March 2003. Today the Department has grown to 55 sworn officers and 10 civilian staff members with a variety of specialized services. The members of the Department are proud to provide the community they serve with a high degree of professionalized law enforcement services.      

Source: From Pioneer Settlement to Suburb authored by Henry Bischoff and Mitchell Kahn - 1979


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