MONTVILLE, NJ - Frank Cooney, a lifelong Montville Township resident, is a very focused and motivated man, who loves his community and is dedicated to serving it. His list of accomplishments is impressive. He said, “I always enjoyed working for Montville Township,” and we can see this in all that he has done for the community.

He recently retired from the Montville Township Police Department, serving from 1994-2013. He was trained as a canine officer and was trained in narcotics and patrol work. He was a 13 year member of the Montville Township Board of Education, a 18 year member of and past president of the Montville Township First Aid Squad, a 12 year member and two year chairman of the Montville Township Drug Awareness Committee, past member of the Montville Township project graduation committee, and a 28 year member of the Montville Township Police Explorer Program. Cooney still is active with the organization as an advisor to the Explorers.

When asked what he was most proud of in serving Montville Township, Cooney said it is his work with the Police Explorer Program. “I always wanted to be a police officer, and in eighth grade, Lieutenant Charlie Rimsky came to Lazar to talk to us about the Police Explorers.” From that point on, Cooney said, “I went up the ranks” and by 18 he was chief. Presently, he is an advisor for 30 active Explorers.

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The Explorer Program provides young people, who are contemplating a career in law enforcement or a related field in the criminal justice system, with training, practical experiences, competition, and challenging experiences requiring high standards of performance and personal conduct. “The Explorer Program is a way for individuals to become involved in their community in a positive way and learn about law enforcement at the same time.” Cooney said that the program serves the community by providing services to the Fourth of July parade and celebration, Montville Day, Towaco Jazz Festival, Bark for Life, Adopt-a-Road Program, and D.A.R.E.

An Explorer must have full parental approval, be 14 to 21 years of age, be a U.S. citizen, maintain at least a C grade point average in school, be able to attend two meetings a month, complete a six month probationary period, have a neat and clean appearance, no criminal record, and remain drug and alcohol free.

They receive training in crime prevention, self-defense, first aid and CPR, firearms safety, radio operations, handling motor vehicle stops, accident investigation, directing traffic, bomb threat response, the court system, burglary in progress, and crisis intervention. “Explorers are given a chance to participate in many different phases of police work but are not placed in dangerous situations."

Cooney said many Montville Explorers have become police officers “which is very rewarding for me.” He also said that other towns do not have such a successful program because it takes dedicated volunteers and money. Cooney has spent much time and effort in fundraising. The program is no expense to Montville because Cooney and volunteers have been able to raise up to $40,000 a year to sustain the program.

Every two years the Explorers compete in the National Competitions against other Explorer Posts from around the United States in different team and individual competitions. With the help of advisor Cooney, assistant advisor and Patrolman Dominic Danzi, and assistant advisor Joan Gnall, the Explorers have won many awards at these Police Explorers National Competitions. At these National Competitions in Arizona and Georgia, police scenarios are acted out, and Explorers get rated on their performances. Competitions are for all ages and for Explorers all across the country. Cooney said, “These competitions are awesome and a very interesting experience.”

In the non-competition years, the Explorers attend the Morris County Police Academy in a week-long event designed after what the actual police cadets go through. Here Explorers receive training in different subjects related to law enforcement and have a chance to take part in physical training. This experience helps the Explorers decide if they really would like to become a police officer.

Cooney grew up in Montville and has fond memories of fishing in Cook’s Farm Pond and riding his motorcycle with friends on the trails across from Harrigan’s Family Restaurant. He said, “It was a great neighborhood with a lot of open fields and farms.”

Cooney went to William Mason Elementary School, Lazar Middle School, and Montville Township High School. He furthered his education at the Morris County Police and Fire Academy. Cooney’s parents grew up in Montville and were married at age 18. He has an older brother Michael, who lives in Montville with his wife Deborah and their three boys Michael, Daniel, and Kyle.

Cooney is a real estate sales associate for Stonybrook Realty and the owner of Metro Pet Supply in Montville since 2000. Because Cooney got his first official job at age 18 as a parking enforcement officer in Morristown, he was able to retire from the Montville Police Department at age 43.

He not only has been giving back to Montville since he was a 14 year old Explorer, but at 16, he became an active member of the Montville Township First Aid Squad. He eventually became vice president of the squad, and by 19, he was president. This is where he got the experience to be an excellent fundraiser. He said that back then they did not have enough money to pay for their insurance, and that was when he sponsored his first pasta dinner fundraiser. He has been involved in plant sales, tricky trays, and carnivals.

At 15, he was a junior firefighter for the Montville Fire Department on Rt. 202 and Taylortown Road. And being ambitious, in 1992, at the age of 22, Cooney ran for a seat on the Montville Township Committee. He was one of the youngest men to ever run for that position. He received 522 votes, which was not enough to win the election, but it was a promising outcome.

In his spare time, he likes to be at his vacation house down the shore spending time relaxing by wave running for hours at a time, hiking, swimming, and fishing. He also loves to cruise. He has been to Mexico, Honduras, Bahamas, Bermuda, and Belize. He has cruised in Europe, and once a year, he visits Napa Valley in California.