WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - Two borough youngsters served as the first Wood-Ridge Police Chief For Day on June 7, the first time that Wood-Ridge has been represented in the annual program, run by the Bergen County Sheriff's Department.
Dante Neseconti and Valentina Neseconti were selected to be Police Chief for a Day by WRPD Chief John Korin. Dante received the title of Chief, while his sister fulfilled the role of Deputy Chief throughout the day. Both had a full day of events and activities, and got an insider's look at the duties and responsibilities of being an officer.
Preparations began even before the special day. According to Concetta Neseconti, the twins mother, Police Chief Korin had come to the family's home and told them about the program, saying they were "very excited and honored." She said that Korin had taken the children's measurements for their specially tailored Chief uniforms, including trousers and polo shirts, embroidered with their names, WRPD patches and shields with their official titles.
The twins and their parents, Concetta and Massimo, and nurse, were picked up at their home in the morning by the Wood-Ridge Police and arrived at police headquarters in a nine vehicle convoy. Chief Dante received a surprise visitor when his bus driver stopped by to wish him well before beginning his tour.
Once inside, they received a tour of the Chief's office, had breakfast, and briefly visited the jail. Deputy Chief held roll call of all present officers, and conducted a uniform and equipment inspection.
From there, the Chiefs reported to Catherine E. Doyle School, where Deputy Chief is a student. The honorary Chiefs were greeted by principal Anthony Albro. They visited with staff members, posed for pictures, and lead safety inspections of various classrooms, including Jennifer Hynes and Bonnie Campagna's third grade classes, Kim Diaz' media center (library), and Gabi Vega's second grade class. After securing the premises, the Chiefs moved on to to their next duty for the day: the annual Torch Run.
The Chiefs and their parents were whisked to the hand-off point of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises awareness and funds for Special Olympics New Jersey. The young Chiefs mixed and mingled with some of the students who were waiting to join the Torch when it arrived in Wood-Ridge. When the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department arrived at the intersection of Valley Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue, Chief Dante and Deputy Chief Valentina met the Hasbrouck Heights Chief for a Day Liliana Riordan, Police Chief Michael Colaneri and the rest of the contingent. Deputy Chief Valentina took the torch and led the Wood-Ridge runners along their assigned route -- Valley Boulevard to North Avenue, pausing for photos at Wood-Ridge Intermediate School, to Union Avenue to Hackensack Street -- where they handed off the torch to Carlstadt officers to continue the flame on its day-long journey to Ewing, NJ.
After the Torch Run, the twins had a brief break back at police headquarters. They then attended a luncheon with 15 other Chiefs for a Day from across Bergen County.
"This was absolutely one of the finest highlights in my 25 years of law enforcement," said Chief Korin after the day's events. "I had a great time with Chief Dante and Deputy Chief Valentina."
Korin said he was grateful for the help of his officers, Mayor and Council, PBA delegate and president Joe Bogart, Gina Affuso and Fran Polito. He also thanked HHPD Chief Michael Colaneri for his "guidance and advice" in planning the day.
"I was truly honored to be a part of the Wood-Ridge Police Department today," said Korin. "It was great to put smiles on the children's faces."
"Chief for A Day" is an inspirational program that offers local children with chronic health conditions and special needs a behind-the-scenes look at law enforcement. Participating agencies planned local community activities and a presentation luncheon at the Venetian in Garfield.
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