BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Township Police Chief Al Nicaretta retired from the department as of Dec. 1, and took part in a traditional walkout ceremony to honor him for his 30 years of service to the township.

"Chief Nicaretta has been a member of the township police department and guardian of our safety for over 30 years," said Mayor Dan Hayes in a letter in late November. "His leadership as chief over the last three years has been exemplary, as he has served with distinction and worked tirelessly to lead the police department through re-accreditation and the many trials and tribulations of a large suburban police force."

"His service and dedication to our residents will be missed," Hayes added.

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The ceremony honoring Nicaretta was held Nov. 27, as he was honored by his fellow officers with a walkout outside the department building. Also in attendance were Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman, Hayes, township administrator James Naples, councilwoman Christine Henderson Rose, councilman Allen Kurdyla and many current and retired Bridgewater police officers.

Nicaretta began his career with the Bridgewater department July 28, 1989. He was a member of the Somerset County SWAT team, a firearms instructor, a certified police training instructor and president and vice president of the PBA #174. Nicaretta has also received a number of awards throughout his career, including the Lifesaving/CPR Award, Somerset County Police Academy Instructor Achievement Award, Bridgewater Township Police Department Training Officer Award, several Exceptional Service Awards and many Letters of Commendation.

"Many of us have worked with or for Chief Nicaretta, I was able to do both," said Bridgewater Township Poilice Capt Paul Payne in a speech during the ceremony. "Many of us have great memories of the chief, some funny and some scary. He is a person who loves to have a good time, but when it is time for business, he will let you know that."

In 2003, Nicaretta was promoted to sergeant, assigned to operations, and, in 2007, he was reassigned to the administrative division as the detective sergeant. In 2008, he was promoted to lieutenant, serving with the operations division from 2008 to 2009, and then the administrative division, overseeing the criminal investigations bureau, traffic safety bureau and internal affairs.

In 2012, Nicaretta was promoted to captain, in charge of the department's administrative division. In 2017, he was promoted to chief.

Payne also thanked Nicaretta's family for their sacrifice over the years.

"Every day you live with the burden of our job, the unknowns this career brings," he said. "Here today, we end not only the chief's career, but we end your family's career on a good note. Chief, from everyone in the agency, township administration and the people in the community, thank you. It's time to enjoy the retired life, you earned it."

The process to find a new chief will be handled by the new township administration, and requires a lengthy application process. Payne will serve as acting chief, as of Dec. 1, until a new chief is chosen.

Payne has been a member of the department for 23 years, and also served four years as part of the United States Marine Corps. He has risen through the ranks to captain, and earned a number of departmental awards and recognition along the way.

"Capt. Payne has shown, through hard work, knowledge and dedication to his assigned task and his co-workers, a passion for service, honor and duty," Hayes said in his letter. "I look forward to working with him in December in his new role, and am confident he will serve the new administration well into the new year."