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.
Our Police Chiefs
Below is a look back at the previous police chiefs and the issues that each one faced.
Chief Charles E. Smith: January 1, 1929 – May 31, 1960
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 at an annual salary of $2,200. The first Police department was housed on the second floor of the Miller Road firehouse, which is now referred to as Company #1. In January 1933 the police department purchased its first police car, which was a Chevy Roadster for $605.00.
Chief Edward Wickham: June 1, 1960 – May 31, 1970
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.
Chief William Russo: June 1, 1970 – June 30, 1985
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. The building has withstood the test of time, and in 2007 was updated through monies derived from a cash seizure.
Chief Samuel Alderisio: July 1, 1985 – January 31, 2001
Shortly after the retirement of Chief Russo, Mahwah Mayor Frank Kraus promoted Samuel Alderisio as the fourth Police Chief on July 1, 1985. Chief Alderisio was promoted from Sergeant to Chief of Police. Under Chief Alderisio, the department experienced significant growth and varied technological advancements. In 1990, a new UHF radio system was implemented, replacing all mobile, portable radios and a new Communications Center. 9-1-1 phone service evolved during his tenure, and Mahwah was a Regional 9-1-1 Answering Point for multiple communities. Our first In-House computer system was purchased and installed, to track information, calls for service and records management. Mobile Data Terminals were installed in patrol cars allowing officers instant access to motor vehicle records. The Township experienced substantial growth in population and business development and these technological advances allowed the Police Department to evolve to meet the changing dynamics of Mahwah. Chief Alderisio was instrumental in the D.A.R.E. program, as well as the Mahwah Municipal Alliance. This collaboration brought many programs, some that are still in place today throughout the community.
Chief James N. Batelli: February 1, 2001 – February 28. 2019
Following the retirement of Chief Alderiso, Mayor Richard Martel appointed James N. Batelli. Chief James N. Batelli was sworn in by Honorable Judge Anthony Gianni as Mahwah’s fifth Police Chief on February 1st, 2002. Chief Batelli joined the police force in June 1978, and was promoted to Sergeant in 1986. He was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant in 1989 and Patrol Captain in 1992. 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. During that time, the Department grew to 55 sworn officers and 10 civilian staff members with a variety of specialized services. Chief Batelli retired in 2019.
Chief Stephen Jaffe: April 4, 2019
Chief Stephen Jaffe was officially appointed and promoted to Chief of Police on April 4, 2019. Chief Stephen Jaffe joined the Mahwah Police Department in 1992 after transferring from the Dumont Police Department. He was promoted to Detective in 1997, and in 2002 was promoted to Captain and named Executive Officer and commander of the Investigative and Juvenile Divisions.
Chief Jaffe is looking to promote and collaborate with officers within the Agency to stimulate a proactive approach to policing within the Township in which a strong foundation and culture will sustain as a core principle into the future. The Chief will continue to expand and provide training for officers to prepare them and position the Agency for the evolving and comprehensive challenges facing New Jersey law enforcement now and going forward.
Chief Jaffe wants to strengthen community engagement and collaboration between the Agency and Officers with the community and all stakeholders within the Township in addressing the quality of life issues as members of the Department are proud to provide the community they serve with a high degree of professionalized law enforcement services.
Historical Source: “From Pioneer Settlement to Suburb” authored by Henry Bischoff and Mitchell Kahn - 1979