NEWTON, NJ—The Newton Town Council honored retired Newton Police Officers during their meeting on Monday.

Chief Michael Richards and Lieutenant Mark Zappa were presented with proclamations from the Town Council as well as shadow boxes made by Class II Officer Steve Moran, recognizing their service.

Mayor Sandra Diglio read the proclamations aloud, beginning with Lt. Zappa’s and then going right into Chief Richards’ and they read as follows:

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“Whereas Mark Zappa was first hired as a Police Dispatcher for the Town of Newton in May 1983 and whereas in January 1986, Mark began his policing career by becoming a Class II special officer and whereas on February 13, 1989, Mark was sworn into the Newton Police Department as a patrolman, where he vowed to protect and serve our community with courage, strength, and commitment and whereas on October 1, 2000, Mark was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, where he deftly supervised those under his command.

Whereas in 2006 Mark’s hard work and dedication resulted in him being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and whereas as Lt. Mark took on many tasks and served as a valuable asset to the department and whereas some of Mark’s duties included being the communications supervisor for the 911 Cencom Center, which included the training and scheduling of the Police Dispatchers. He also was responsible for the hiring and training of School Traffic Guards, served as liaison to the Office of Emergency Management and was in charge of the maintaining of all equipment.

Whereas one of Mark’s greatest honors during his service to the Town of Newton was being able to work alongside his son Jared, who now serves as a patrolman in the department. Now therefore, we the Mayor and Town Council of the Town of Newton, hereby proclaim out appreciation and gratitude to mark for his nearly thirty-seven years of dedicated service to the Town of Newton and offer our best wishes to him for a long, happy, and healthy retirement.”

Lt. Zappa said a few words of thanks to those in attendance. “I am a man of few words but I do want to thank everyone that came out and 37 years, it went fast and I want to thank Steve Moran for making our shadowboxes that you’ll probably see in a  little bit. Thank you again.”

Next, Mayor Diglio called up Chief Richards and read aloud to those in attendance the proclamation for him.

“Whereas Michael S Richards began his career with the Town of Newton Police Department as a Police Dispatcher in November 1989 and whereas he works as a Class II Special Officer and Sheriff’s Officer prior to being sworn in as a Newton Patrolman in 1994 and whereas in 2000 Mike was assigned to the Detective Bureau and through the years he consistently proved his value not only as an investigator but a leader and was promoted first to Sergeant in March 2002 and then Lieutenant in March 2006.

Whereas as a Detective in 2008 Mike received the Chief William Geffken “Detective of the Year” award for his outstanding investigative accomplishments and whereas in 2010 he was promoted to Police Chief where his leadership and dedication to the community served as an example to the men and women under his command of what a Police Officer should be. Whereas Mike’s dedication went above and beyond the law enforcement community as he always sought ways to collaborate with other agencies and organizations to improve public safety and the quality of life in Sussex County with one of the best examples of same being the C.L.E.A.R program, which he helped create in 2015.

Whereas some of his other noteworthy accomplishments over his 30-year career in law enforcement include helping to establish the county’s 9/11 memorial at SCCC and the indoor firing range for law enforcement training. Now, therefore, we the Mayor and Town Council of the Town of Newton, hereby proclaim our appreciation and gratitude to Michael S Richards for his thirty years of dedicated service to the Town of Newton and offer our best wishes for a long, happy, and healthy retirement.”

Richards said a few words after Mayor Diglio was finished reading the proclamation.

“It really is a noble calling, law enforcement, I miss you guys a lot, there’s some things I don’t miss right, as I am sure you’re aware of, but I really miss the comradery of this profession and I also miss the ability to make a difference cause that is what you really have, that si what is in your grasp, to make a real positive impact on the community and the community larger than Newton, so I think were in good hands now though. Thank you.

Chief Robert Osborn, who was in attendance along with a least a dozen other Newton Police Officers said a few words about Richards and Zappa.

“Tonight, I would like to honor two individual who both have over 30 years of service with the Town of Newton. Michael Richards and Mark Zappa. As our agency begins an unprecedented, internal transition, we would like to publicly thank each of these retired officers for the exampled they have set, the time they have invested and the contributions they have made ot the Newton Community.

First, I want to acknowledge Mike Richards’ dedication to the Newton Police Department, the Town of Newton and the County of Sussex. Mike has always tried to make a difference in our department and within our community. From managing significant investigation, to providing valuable supervision, to making improvements in our technology, training, and equipment, he has demonstrated persistent leadership as the town’s 10th Police Chief. Mike’s brand of leadership had clear expectations; He always demanded accountability, set high standards of performance and focused out resources most efficiently and effectively!

Chief Richards was also a catalyst in spearheading new community outreach programs, such as the C.L.E.A.R program- and his impact in this regard has been far reaching. It is my belief that helping to implement and promote the Community Law Enforcement Addiction Recovery program will be Mike’s legacy. This program continues to benefit those individuals who are struggling with drug addition in order to make a positive difference in the quality of life for individuals, families, and our entire community.

Additionally, I would like to publicly express my gratitude to him for hiring quality people under his tenure. Though it may have been the consensus within the administration regarding these appointments, ultimately it was still his call. As the new chief, I consider myself fortunate to have such high caliber individuals, both capable and experienced, on our department, which enable it to be one of the finest in the County.

Lastly, I would like to personally thank you for your friendship through the years. From when we started as dispatchers together, to bike patrol officers, to roommates and being part of your administration for the last 14 years. We have collectively navigated through some difficult times and tried to do what is best for the officers we led, and the citizens we served. I appreciate all of your efforts that you have mad eon behalf of our department throughout your career. I wish you all the best in your present endeavor and in the future.”

After a handshake and a hug with Richards, Chief Osborn spoke about Mark Zappa next.

“Mark Zappa is deserving of recognition tonight after having served as a part time dispatcher in 1983, Special Officer in 1986, and upon being hired as a full-time patrol officer in 1989 for the Newton Police Department. A law enforcement career that cumulatively spanned over 37 years of service.

During that time, Mark served in numerous capacities within our agency and has provided leadership in these roles. From Senior Patrol Officer, to Patrol Sergeant to Support Services Lieutenant, Mark has always been a valuable resource for the members of our agency, while providing them with guidance, mentoring and most importantly friendship.

Not one to seek attention or welcome notoriety, he often worked “behind the scenes”, continually overseeing his duties and responsibilities without hesitation or objection. Mark’s impact on the Newton Police Department ranged across several fronts. Despite being responsible for many system and network operations, he always made time for everyone and would try to assist them in any way possible. During his career, he wore many hats that didn’t display a badge, whether it was as a “problem solver”, a “trouble-shooter” or a “multi-tasker”, he handled stressful situations effectively with a calm demeanor and a sense of humor.

He was responsible for many things that involved a lot of moving parts, yet he always managed to work towards a solution while developing relationships with mechanics, vendors and service technicians alike. Many times, he was a voice of reason that either supported your decision or offered another perspective for consideration. All of these attributes, coupled with his acquired knowledge, led him to help maintain the cohesiveness of our department.

So tonight, I would like to personally thank Mark Zappa for his continued cooperation to his co-workers, his constant commitment to our agency and his valued friendship over the years. None of which, I assure you is taken for granted. For we too have dealt with a lot of issues, overcame obstacles and worked together for the betterment of the department for the last 30 plus years. I wish you the best in retirement and in the years to come.”  

Richards and Zappa were given their shadowboxes by Lt. Steven Van Nieuwland and Lt. Michael Monaco.