HISTORY OF THE GLEN ROCK POLICE DEPARTMENT
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The Glen Rock Police Department was established in 1918 to provide full time law enforcement services to the Borough of Glen Rock, located in northwest Bergen County, New Jersey. At the time of the department’s inception, Glen Rock was a small agrarian community of approximately 4,000 people.
Between 1894 and 1918, part-time "Marshals" were hired by the community to provide law enforcement services. Often referred to as policemen, these marshals had no training and were issued only a handgun, nightstick and badge. They were called to duty as needed and were paid for any arrests they made. The Chief Marshal was Martin A. Jensen. On September 1, 1918, the Glen Rock Police Department was formed with the appointment of its first full time police officer, James R. Houlihan. A former Village of Ridgewood, NJ policeman, Mr. Houlihan was named as Chief of Police and patrolled Glen Rock on a bicycle. He also used trained police dogs to locate missing persons and deter crime, a concept the department re-instituted in between 1993 and 2000, with the creation of a modern police canine unit staffed by then P.O. Eric Reamy and K-9 Cezar.
The first police car was purchased in 1923, assisting the officers who patrolled the borough on foot and on Motorcycle. At that time, no police radios existed, and officers communicated by using telephone "call boxes" which were located at various points throughout the town. By 1928 the department had grown and now included seven officers. This number would remain constant through the 1940’s.
Shortly after the beginning of World War II, a volunteer auxiliary police force was established to augment the full time police department. The Glen Rock Auxiliary Police acted as additional eyes and ears for the police. These auxiliary officers provided the borough with secondary patrols, and were available for emergencies, disasters, and public events requiring crowd and traffic control. Many of those who served as Auxiliary Police Officers went on to become full-time Police Officers both locally as far away as Mesa Arizona. Due to ever increasing training requirements, which were in many cases equal to that of regular officers, the auxiliary police program ended in 2012.
Following the Second World War, Glen Rock began to see many changes. Located approximately twenty minutes away from of New York City, and near the city of Paterson, Glen Rock was fast becoming a suburban residential community. Today, Glen Rock's 2.8 square miles are populated by approximately 12,000 residents and includes numerous business establishments. The community is a pleasant mixture of single family residences, town houses and light industry. The town is also home to a vibrant central business district; several strip malls, two high volume commuter railroad lines, a highly rated public school system, several park areas, and a number of different religious institutions, including an Indian Sikh temple.
As Glen Rock grew and changed, so did its police department. In 1946 a two-way radio system was installed in police headquarters as well as the department’s patrol cars. This dramatically increased the police response time to the growing number of calls being received each year. As the day-to-day needs and problems of the community increased, so did the demands placed upon the police force. Increased training, additional manpower and better equipment soon became necessary. During the 1950’s, society began to recognize the need for specialized police training and Glen Rock police officers began attending formal programs conducted by the FBI, State of New Jersey, and Bergen County. This type of formal training became mandatory for all police officers throughout New Jersey in the 1960’s, and during the next decade officers began seeking college degrees in criminal justice, public administration and psychology. Today, anyone wishing to become a Glen Rock police officer is required to have a college background.
Throughout the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, manpower and equipment began to improve. More police vehicles were purchased and new lifesaving equipment accompanied officers on patrol for the first time. During the 70's, the department grew to twenty-six sworn, full-time police officers. Radar equipment for speed enforcement, and hand held portable radios for more effective communications were placed into service. In 1984, Glen Rock was one of the first police departments in Bergen County to issue semi-automatic 9mm handguns to its officers. In 1995, duty side-arms were upgraded to .40 caliber auto-pistols, a weapon that since has become a standard among law enforcement agencies. Glen Rock Police Officers currently carry Glock model 23 .40 calibers semi-automatic hand guns. As information system technology began to emerge during the 1970's, the Glen Rock Police became involved in a countywide movement aimed at computerizing criminal records as part of a larger federal program. During the late 1980's, an in-house computer based record-keeping system was implemented. This concept continues today, with officers from the department’s Information Technology division, who have aided in both design and maintenance of our current local and wide-area network systems. In April of 2002 the Department replaced its long outdated MDT, in-car computer system and purchased Mobile Data Computers. In later years these computers were upgraded to rugged lap-top terminals. This state-of-the-art system placed the department at the forefront of the technology curve. The specialized, touch screen computers allows officers on patrol instant access to FBI criminal and wanted person files, as well as several other state and countywide law enforcement databases, including New Jersey motor vehicle records. This system has resulted in the detention of numerous wanted persons and other violators found on the streets in our community. Today all police vehicles assigned to routine patrol functions are equipped with Mobile Data Computers in the form of Panasonic “Tough Books”. Officers on patrol are able to write most basic reports in their cars and submit them over a wireless network, thus keeping them on the street where they are needed. Even Traffic Summonses can now be generated electronically and immediately transferred to the Municipal Court directly from the patrol car. Officers in the field also have the ability to search the department’s in-house data base for local alerts, premise histories, prior reports and field contacts instantly from their cars. They can also communicate with and transfer information to other officers and agencies throughout the region.
Currently, the Glen Rock Police Department consists of twenty-one full-time police officers, one parking enforcement officer and two part-time police administrative aids who maintain the police records and reception desk during limited hours Monday to Saturday. Sworn police personnel are divided into two divisions, consisting of a patrol section and a detective bureau. The command staff presently includes the Chief of police and one Captain. There are five patrol Sergeants, one Detective Sergeant and one Detective. Several of our officers also provide specialized services including, traffic safety, juvenile officer, domestic violence investigation, law enforcement accreditation,certified car seat technicians, computer and information technology services, records management, as well as firearms training and radar instruction, in addition to their normal patrol assignments. Several officers have been certified in “train-the-trainer” programs allowing the department to expand the use of in-house training during regular working hours.
In 1994 the Glen Rock Police Department closed down an antiquated police dispatch desk and moved Police dispatch and 911 services to a regional dispatch center, the NorthWest Bergen Central Dispatch located in Ridgewood, NJ. This center is the primary point of contact for all emergency and non-emergency calls to Glen Rock’s public safety services.
(Left) G.R.P.D Inspection Detail (Right) P.O. Frank Bodi and Capt. Tony Ciaramella at the police desk
In January 1999, the department instituted an enhanced emergency medical program under which all members of the patrol force were trained in the use of portable cardiac defibrillation units known as AED’s. These units were obtained through a project developed by the Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ, and are used by trained personnel to start the heartbeat of a person suffering from cardiac arrest. Today many of the Glen Rock Police Officers on patrol are also certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (E.M.T.’s), one officer is also a fully certified paramedic.
Having out grown its former substandard facility at old Borough Hall, Glen Rock Police Department, along with other Borough Offices, moved into a temporary Police Headquarters at 175 Rock Road behind the CVS in 2007. The department operated out of this location until January of 2010 when operations were moved back to a newly renovated and state-of-the-art police facility at the Harding Plaza Municipal Building.
In 2011 the department’s Motor Cycle Unit was reinstituted. The department currently has two motorcycles, which get about 40 miles to the gallon and are equipped to respond to all calls handled by patrol cars. In addition to the standard police radio, the unit is equipped with a radar unit, e-ticket printer, oxygen, defibrillator, first aid gear, flares, police line tape and flashlight. It is outfitted with a siren and all required emergency lighting as well as a laptop computers similar to those used in borough police cars but designed for use on police motorcycles. The motor cycles are on patrol 12 months a year except during extreme weather conditions.
The Glen Rock Police Department receives approximately 1300-1400 calls-for-service each month. Routine calls involve a police response to a wide range of incidents, and may include crimes such as burglary, theft, fraud, domestic violence, drug and alcohol offenses, disputes, as well as trauma and medical problems, motor vehicle accidents, or public disturbances. While the primary mission of the Glen Rock Police Department is to protect life, property, detect crime and apprehend violators of the law, a substantial portion of our time is also devoted to those quality-of-life issues which are important to our citizenry, such as traffic safety and community-oriented police services. Much like the rest of the nation, Glen Rock experienced a reduction in crime during the 1990’s through the turn of the century; the officers of the Glen Rock Police Department have worked toward the continuance of this trend through proactive patrol functions. In the post 9/11 world the department has also joined the rest of the law enforcement community in response to homeland security issues. This response has included upgrades in training and equipment and patrol practices. Following numerous tragedies throughout the nation the department has also increased its role in working with the Board of Education to increase security in our Borough Schools. In keeping with the ever changing demands of the 21st Century, we have dedicated ourselves to assisting and supporting the community, and to keeping the Borough of Glen Rock a great place to live and work.
History compiled by Sgt. Dean Ackermann