Chiosie announces his retirement

| 03 May 2012 | 01:20

WEST MILFORD — West Milford’s police Chief Gene Chiosie surprised many by announcing his retirement last Thursday. It will be effective July 1, 2012.

In a memo to the mayor and township administrator dated April 26, Chiosie said he has “proudly worked 25 years for this township” and “gave it my best effort.”

Chiosie was appointed acting chief in August, 2010 by Mayor Bettina Bieri after then-police Chief Paul Costello retired with just one day’s notice because of pending legislation that could have caused him to lose his accrued sick and vacation time. Chiosie, a lieutenant at the time, was on “permanent leave,” using his accrued sick and vacation time before his impending retirement. He answered the call and served as acting chief until last October when he became permanent chief.

Chiosie has had several victories in his short tenure as chief, along with some tough times.

He has been trying to rebuild the police force from the day he took over. The manpower was at 36 sworn officers, the lowest it had been in recent history. Currently there are 43. There were also morale issues. That has also changed. Chiosie said he has tremendous support from his department, as well as the residents of the township.

“The support I’ve had from the community has been tremendous,” he said.

Chiosie’s most lasting legacy may well be his assault on drugs in the community. Chiosie has made no secret that getting drugs off the streets has been his priority.

But there was more he wanted to do. Community policing was high on his list. He wanted to have an officer devoted to community issues, like working with kids in the schools and with senior citizens.

He and the council clashed on funding and the department’s manpower. He and the mayor wanted to put an officer in the schools but he found resistance with the council and some school board members and administrators. For months, the mayor and council have discussed the position of director of Public Safety. Traditionally it is the police chief who holds the position, yet they still haven’t made the appointment. Two weeks ago, the council tabled the appointment in order to include qualifications in the resolution. A week later, Chiosie handed in his retirement papers. He insisted politics had nothing to do with his decision to leave.

Bieri has been an ally of Chiosie from the beginning.

“I am saddened to have received Chief Chiosie’s retirement notice for July 1 yet grateful for his dedication to the township and the department,” said Bieri. “Nearly two years ago he accepted my offer and postponed his retirement. Since that time, he has turned the department around, improved efficiency, dramatically increased morale, and redirected focus on important issues like drug enforcement and public safety. I respect both him as well as his decision. I am confident that the department will continue to thrive and transition smoothly as a result of his efforts and planning tools. I truly wish him the happiness he so deserves.”

Chiosie and Captain Tim Storbeck both took the chief's test last year and passed. Storbeck has been his right-hand man and Chiosie said the department would be in good hands if Storbeck gets the nod.

The police chief is a mayoral appointment. Director of Public Safety requires council consent.