MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair Police Chief David Sabagh will retire from a 30-year career with the Montclair Police Force as of March 1, Sabagh confirmed in a farewell letter to the community on Monday.
TAP into Montclair was the first to report the retirement and has not yet heard back from Mayor Robert Jackson on the matter.
In his letter, Sabagh mentions that there were accomplishments and challenges associated with being head of the police force. Some of his challenges included complaints from Montclair police officers who spoke out publicly, critiscisms and lawsuits over the promotion and hiring of minority officers and public fury over how policing was handled if a violent crime occurs. In 2013, there had been a number of violent incidents that sparked outrage from community members on how they were handled by Sabagh according to a November 8, 2013 article in the Montclair Times.
However, Sabagh touts a 48% reduction in crime during his tenure and maintains that he will now work for a private company, the letter states. He also praises the efforts of his officers and wrote, "Not a single officer suffered a life threatening injury in the line of duty, nor did one have to rely on deadly force to subdue a suspect."
Although Sabagh has had his share of critics during his tenure leading the force, he also has a great deal of supporters who wish him well in his next phase.
Deputy Mayor Russo responded to Sabagh's announcement saying, "I thank Chief Sabagh for his many years of service to Montclair and I wish him well in his retirement."
Councilor Renee Baskerville offered congratulatory remarks. She said, "I am happy that it appears a though Chief Sabagh is moving on to a new position that he is excited about. I wish him well."
Baskerville added that they are now thinking of who would be next in line to fill the post, "His retirement will give us an opportunity to look at all of the talent that we have on our Montclair Police Force and make sure that we are utilizing our officers to their maximum abilities. I see great potential within the ranks for outstanding leadership to fill any openings in positions."
The council has no authority over who is hired on the police force, Baskerville added. She further stated that Acting Manager Tim Stafford will begin to search for a replacement soon.
Sabagh's letter reads as follows:
"After three decades of service to The Township of Montclair, including 12 years as Chief of Police, I find myself faced with the difficult decision that every career Law Enforcement Officer has to make at some point; the decision to retire. I have accomplished everything that I set out to do and it is now time to afford another of the many officers that I have had the privilege to work with the opportunity to do the same at the highest level. Montclair is among the most diverse communities in the State of New Jersey, and the challenges presented to the agency sworn to protect its population constantly vary.
During my tenure as Chief, Montclair has experienced a 48% reduction in crime due in part to the implementation of a comprehensive crime reduction program, creation of a Crime Analysis Unit and establishment of a unique Community Service Unit. We have also begun, and will soon complete, the much coveted status as one of the Accredited Law Enforcement Agencies in New Jersey. None of this would have been possible without the remarkable efforts of the hard working members of the Police Department, who humble me with their dedication and service. Most importantly, during my time as Chief, not a single officer suffered a life threatening injury in the line of duty, nor did one have to rely on deadly force to subdue a suspect.
I have been offered a management position at a private company that will allow me to utilize my training, experience and knowledge in a way that will benefit the next generation of law enforcement professionals. There has been a dramatic change in the world in which we live, and policing needs to adjust to this change in order to remain relevant, trusted and effective. The traditional institution of law enforcement needs to meet these new challenges by incorporating new policies strategies and tactics.
For the foregoing reasons, I have commenced the process that is required of me to retire from the Montclair Police Department. I do so with heavy heart, but secure in the knowledge that I will be able to use my inherent experience in this field to help properly train and prepare the men and women in law enforcement for the situations that they may encounter in their careers.
It has been my honor and privilege to have served the residents of Montclair over the past thirty years. Thank you all for your support.
David P. Sabagh
Chief of Police"