ELIZABETH, NJ — Two Union County officials have retired after nearly 30 years of service.

Chief of Detectives Vincent Gagliardi and Assistant Prosecutor John Esmerado have both retired from their positions at the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. They were honored for their service to the county during the freeholder board meeting Thursday.

Esmerado, who is retiring after 28 years, has been passionate about working with victims and survivors of sexual abuse. He worked alongside the Special Victims Unit for many years, and he established the county’s Child Advocacy Center, which supports victims and survivors of sexual abuse. During the meeting, Esmerado thanked the board and Prosecutor’s Office for their support.

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“Every time we came [to the board], every freeholder has always given us a very open reception whatever the needs are for the victims and survivors of sexual abuse,” Esmerado said. “So, we thank the board for all its help, and I thank the Prosecutor’s Office for allowing me to do what I love. It’s been a labor of love for 28 years.”

Esmerado said he requested and received $3 million from the board in 2009 to establish the center.

“I remember when you came to us asking that we establish the child advocacy center, and we’re very proud of the work that you’ve done with it,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski.

In his retirement, Esmerado will continue to work with the Friends of the Child Advocacy Center of Union County. This organization “raises funds that assist in paying for the costs associated with mental health intake evaluation and treatment for children at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, and depression following the disclosure of sexual abuse,” its official website says.

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Meanwhile, Gagliardi, who is retiring after 27 years, began his career as an aide to the freeholder board. He has served as chief of detectives since 2017. Freeholder Vice Chair Alexander Mirabella commended Gagliardi for his accomplishments.

“I do really appreciate our friendship over many years … and the work [you have done] tirelessly on behalf of the residents of Union County,” Mirabella said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our relationship, the work you’ve been able to do in Union County, and I just wish you well.”

Gagliardi thanked the board and the county for recognizing his accomplishments.

“It is mind-numbing that 30 years ago, I started off as an intern with the freeholders. Here I am with the freeholders as I retire,” Gagliardi said. “It’s very bittersweet for me. I love working for this county, I loved it.”

“I never left this county. I love it here,” he added. “This is a tremendous honor for me, and I can’t put into words how much this means to me.”

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