Chatham Township Swears in New Officer; Committee Passes Resolution on Cuba Relations

Matthew Smedberg is sworn in as a new police officer by Mayor Kevin Sullivan Credits: TAP Chatham
Matthew Smedberg is the newest member of the Chatham Township Police Department Credits: TAP Chatham
Chatham Township Police Chief Steven Hennelly gave a report on accreditation Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Township Committee used the occasion of the swearing in of a new Probationary Police Officer to pass a resolution opposing normalization of relations with Cuba until convicted Felon Joanne Chesimard is extradited to the United States.

Chesimard was convicted of murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. Chesimard, now going by the name of Assata Shakur, fled to Cuba after escaping from prison in the 1970s and has been on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list ever since. Chesimard had been sentenced to life in prison.

"As we think about this, particularly when we swear in a new officer tonight, police officers are putting their lives on the line every day and we don't like to think these things, certainly in this town, can happen," Mayor Kevin Sullivan said. "But we are a country of the rule of law and we see what happens when we dismiss the law what can happen. Certainly, if they want to normalize relations with Cuba, they should turn over and extradite this killer."

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Sullivan read the resolution into the record before the swearing in of Matthew Smedberg as a new Probationary Officer. Smedberg's hiring gives the Chatham Township Police Department a full contingent of 21.

"Be it resolved the township committee call on Congress and the President of the United States of America, to oppose normalizing relations with Cuba until such time Joanne Chesimard is extradited," Sullivan said.

The resolution was supported by the Chiefs of Police Association.

Smedberg, who earned a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice from Seton Hall University in 2009, is a recent graduate of the Morris County Police Academy. The 28-year-old from Rockaway was the captain of the baseball team at Seton Hall University as a center fielder.

He went on to play professional baseball with the Independent League's River City Rascals of Missouri before turning to law enforcement. Smedberg worked as a dispatcher for the Ramsey Police Department before coming to Chatham. 

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