LIVINGSTON, NJ  — Two new Livingston police officers, three auxiliary officers and several veteran officers were sworn into new positions—including promotions to lieutenant, sergeant and detective—during a ceremony held at Monday’s mayor and council meeting in Livingston.

After carefully examining 200 applications to fill four new spots on the Livingston Police Department (LPD), the department recently selected Jaleesa Wreh and Sheena Maldonado, who were sworn in on Monday, and two others, who will be sworn in after graduation from the police academy.

“We definitely have a good draw of people who want to come to the police department,” said LPD Chief Craig Handschuch, who noted that the screening took months. “The process is a very tough and tedious process, but we know in the end we get the best officers and there’s no doubt in our minds that we definitely got four good officers this time.”

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Wreh, a graduate of the Bergen County Police Academy, comes to Livingston from the East Orange Police Department, where she was promoted to the rank of detective. She has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree from George Washington University in crime scene investigation.

Maldonado, a graduate of the Essex County Public Safety Academy, is currently enrolled in a master’s program at Fairleigh Dickenson working toward a degree in homeland security. She recently volunteered with the Essex County Deputy Sheriff’s Department, completed four years in the Army National Guard and reenlisted in the Air National Guard.

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant were John Drumm, who began his law enforcement career at the East Orange Police Department before joining the LPD, and Reese Riley, who has served in many capacities on the LPD and will now become a shift commander in the patrol division.

Promoted to the rank of sergeant on Monday were Russell Mueller, Joseph “Duke” D’Andrea and Michael Herbert.

Sgt. Mueller, a graduate of the 1998 Morris County Police Academy, joined the LPD in 1999. He has served the LPD in many capacities and was specifically recognized for his work on the traffic bureau over the last two years. In moving to the rank of sergeant, he will join the patrol division and serve as shift commander on one of the night squads.

As a second-generation Livingston police officer, Sgt. D’Andrea is also a graduate of the Morris County Police Academy and joined the LPD in 2005. He was transferred to the detective bureau, where he has worked for the last three years. He will also work on the night shift with Mueller.

Sgt. Herbert, a 1989 graduate of the Essex County Police Academy, has served most of his career in the patrol division and will also serve on the night shift. Handschuch noted that Herbert also holds a law degree from Seton Hall Law School.

Also promoted on Monday was Detective John Maggiuilli, who is a 1999 graduate of the Morris County Police Academy and served at the Morris County Sheriff’s Office before joining the LPD in 2000. He has served on many assignments, including the patrol division, is one of the LPD’s firearms instructors and is now moving into the detective division.

In addition to these promotions, the department also swore in three new auxiliary police officers, two of whom will serve as police chaplains on the LPD.

Richard Vasquez recently graduated from the Essex County Auxiliary Police Academy in order to join Livingston’s volunteer organization, which supports all functions of the police department. A five-year resident of Livingston, Vasquez is a former marine and a trainer by occupation.

“The auxiliary officers volunteer numerous man hours during emergencies, routine patrol, high holy days…whenever we need them, they always come out for us, and we appreciate the support they give to the police department,” said Handschuch. “I know the members see no difference in the color of the uniforms—they’re all brother officers in Livingston, sister officers in Livingston, and they all do a great job for us.”

Several years ago, the LPD and the Livingston Clergy Association discussed forming a clergy program within the department for the purpose of providing any necessary counseling for LPD members. Rev. Daniel Martian, a pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Livingston, was one of the founders of this program, and on Monday was sworn in as a volunteer chaplain to the LPD.

Also sworn in as police chaplain was Deacon Orlando Soto, who is a retired lieutenant from the Orange Police Department and has a longstanding partnership with the Township of Livingston as a volunteer in many capacities. He is also affiliated with the Abundant Life Worship Center in Whippany and serves on several ministries as a deacon.  

Both men partook in basic and advanced police chaplain training as well as instant stress management and crisis intervention training before joining the LPD.

“These chaplains, again, are volunteer to our organization,” said Handschuch. “They submit to numerous trainings and we’re really looking forward to a really good partnership within the police department.”  

Handschuch concluded Monday’s ceremony by recognizing the many people who helped in the interviewing and hiring process as well as the mayor and council for their continued support of the police department.

Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein was especially impressed by the overwhelming amount of talent being hired and promoted within the department and thanked all members of the LPD on behalf of the council.