MORRISTOWN, NJ – Morris County Sheriff Edward Rochford will retire at the end of this year, leaving an elected position he’s held since 1993.

Rochford, 71, who said his final day in office will be Dec. 31, has been a law enforcement officer for 51 years. His career began in 1965 when he was hired by the Morris Township Police Department.

“Fifty one years in the same profession is a long, long time,” said the Republican sheriff today in a statement announcing his retirement. “My goal when I became sheriff back in 1993 was to take a good sheriff’s office to a higher level. With the officers and employees I have had throughout the years, coupled with the management philosophy I have always maintained, we were able to accomplish just that.”

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Rochford said he takes pride in the fact that the Morris County Sheriff’s Office became the first nationally accredited sheriff’s agency in New Jersey in 1998. It also received the “coveted” Triple Crown Award from the National Sheriff’s Association, an award given to sheriff’s departments that are simultaneously accredited by three national associations in law enforcement and corrections, said Rochford. 

 “Out of the 3,082 sheriff’s offices nationwide, only 36 of them have ever received this distinction,” said a press release from Rochford’s office. “And under the leadership of Sheriff Rochford, the MCSO received this award twelve years in a row.” It also noted the Morris County jail, since 2004, has “consistently been rated in the top 1 percent of all jails nationwide.”

Rochford’s tenure has not been without controversy. His department employs the sheriff’s officers who work at the county jail and Rochford has battled with the county freeholders over contracts. Last June, the freeholders removed jail finances from Rochford’s control, blaming the sheriff for failing to keep a lid on overtime costs for corrections officers.

Earlier this month, former Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Deputy Chief of Investigations James Gannon announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for the sheriff’s post.

Rochford, who stayed with the Morris Township police for 27 years, ran a successful campaign for sheriff in 1992 and took office on Jan. 1, 1993. He was re-elected for seven more terms and “made history this past November as the only person in the history of Morris County to achieve fifty years of service in a law enforcement capacity exclusively to the County of Morris,” said the press release.

The announcement said Rochford “has been honored with countless awards throughout his career, too many to enumerate.” It cited several, however, including his being named Police Officer of the Year while with the Morris Township police, a 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey State Troopers Coalition, a 2015 New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement Department Achievement Award and a 2015 Special Achievement Award by the New Jersey Taxpayers Association.

Rochford said he doesn’t plan on becoming a couch potato come January. “I am an avid baseball fan and I have always wanted to visit every major league baseball stadium in the country,” he said. “I will work on knocking this off my bucket list.”