Police & Fire

Sparta Police Chief Reigstad Retires After 28 Years


SPARTA, NJ – The court room was filled at the Sparta Township Council meeting inMarch as Ernest Reigstag was honored for his 28 years of service in the Sparta Police Department.  Family, friends, fellow officer, current and retired chiefs from Sparta and other towns and many others were in attendance for Reigstad’s retirement ceremony.

Reigstad's retirement had been announced at the January 10 council meeting as they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Sparta Police Department.  

Sparta Lieutenant Neil Spidaletto  led the event from a podium in the well of the court room, recognizing the special guests in the room;

Sign Up for E-News

  • Don Earl, retired Sparta Chief of Police
  • John-Paul Beebe, retired Sparta Lieutenant
  • John Schanstra, retired Sparta police officer
  • Susan Parks, retired Sparta Corporal
  • Louis Takacs, retired Sparta Corporal
  • Senator Steve Oroho
  • Sussex County Prosecutor Francis Koch,
  • Chief Thomas McCormick, Chief of Detectives Sussex County Prosecutors’ Office
  • Chief Eric Danielson, Andover Township
  • Chief Peter Zabita, Byram Township
  • Chief Michael Richards, Town of Newton
  • Chief Stephen Gordon, Ogdensburg Boro
  • George Lott, retired Ogdensburg Chief of Police
  • Wiliam Varcadipane, retired Ogdensburg Chief of Police
  • Philip Coleman, retired Andover Chief of Police
  • Jan Wright, retired Hamburg Chief of Police
  • Skip Danielson, retired Byram Chief of Police
  • John Dmuchowski, retired Little Falls Chief of Police
  • Alish Hamble former Sparta Mayor,
  • James Henderson former Sparta Mayor
  • Members of the Sparta Fire Department
  • Members of the Sparta Ambulance Squad

Township manager William Close spoke about “Chief Ernie.”  Close said Reigtad came to Sparta after getting his degree from Seton Hall and then finishing first in his class at the Morris County Police Academy.  He spoke about “Chief Ernies, outstanding professionalism and character,” words that would be echoed throughout the ceremony.  Close said a concept the two men shared was that “service is our product, no one exemplified this better the chief and the Sparta Police Department.”  In closing his remarks Close said, “As good an officer as he is, he is a better man.  My only regret is that I did not get to work with you longer.”

Reigstad, in his remarks, quipped he wished “Close had come to Sparta sooner too.” 

Mayor Gil Gibbs pointed to recent polls that have ranked Sparta #96 and #2 in the state for safety.  “As a council person I consider my job to be keeping the streets safe.  You made the streets safe and you made me look good, so thank you.” Gibbs added “I hope you stay around.  You are an outstanding chief but you’re an outstanding friend.”

Councilwoman Christine Quinn spoke about the sacrifice made by police officers’ families.  “There is an absolute difference of concerns and worries when a loved one leaves the house for work…In times of crisis you’re often left in the care of friends as your husband was out taking care of the rest of us.”

Quinn invited Ernie’s wife Cindy and daughters Alexa and Brianna to the front of the room and presented them with flowers. 

“It is a person of rare character that can achieve all you have done,” Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith said.  “Thank you for your service.  I wish you happiness in your retirement.”

“I often have people thank me for my service.  It is rare that I get to say thank you for your service to someone else,” Councilman Jerry Murphy said.  “We may not have seen eye to eye on policy.  We managed our way through trials and tribulations with dignity.  I wish you the best.”

Councilman Josh Herztberg related a personal story about a time he was “hanging out at the beach with some friends…and you treated us with more respect than we probably deserved.” Hertzberg went on to say his job requires a lot of travel and he feels “safe for my family because of your leadership.”

Gibbs thanked Reigstad’s parents, giving them each a gift.

Oroho said he wanted to thank Reigstad for his professionalism.  “He would call professionally and say ‘ya got a minute?’ and we sit and talk. Look at the professionalism of the Sparta Police Department.  It doesn’t happen by accident.  It is a tone set at the top.”

Reading a resolution Oroho presented Reigstad with a flag that had flown over the capital on Reigstad’s behalf, from Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen.

Henderson, deputy mayor when Riegstad was promoted to chief, came to the podium.  He said, “I’ll tell him what I said when he got promoted. ‘Congratulations, have fun and be safe.’  Keep in touch.”

Spidaletto introduced the Sparta Police union president.  He presented Reigstad with a plaque.  “You have set this department up to a great place,” he said.

Reigstad had a few remarks.  “My job is a lot easier because of the quality of the officers,” he began.  “It is my dream job.  I’ve been able to serve the town I love.  The most memorable was being a part of building the new town hall.  It’s not easy to find the right time to retire. I’m certainly going to miss these guys,” he said gesturing to the officers that lined the perimeter of the room.  “Nobody’s irreplaceable. Most importantly, I think I left the place better than I found it.  It’s been a great experience with a great council.  At the end of the day we have to move forward with what’s in the interest of the town.”

To Close he said, “I’ve worked with a lot of managers.  We’ve had good people but you are my favorite.”

To the officers he said “It is important to do something beyond the job that gives back to the community.  I’ll leave it at that.”

Spidaletto invited Reigstad’s daughters to come forward to present the chief with his retirement badge.  There was a final salute from the officers before they left council chambers. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police Pick Up Franklin Woman Driving While Suspended

March 18, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A traffic stop yielded an arrest for driving with a suspended license for a Franklin woman.  On March 13 around 11:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Timothy Lynott stopped Christina Bradford on Route 15 for having a broken tail light on her gray GMC pickup, police report.

When the officer checked her credentials, he found Bradford’s license had been suspended and she ...


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and ...

Alex Majewski Joins Race for Newton Town Council

NEWTON, NJ – Alex Majewski officially launched his campaign this week for Newton Town Council, pledging to make municipal government work by placing residents and taxpayers first.

“A new beginning for Newton starts now.  We need to strengthen the communication and interaction between residents, business owners, and public servants,” Majewski said. “Newton ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, March 20, 6:30 PM

Sparta United Methodist Church, Sparta

Girl Scout STEAM Program

Arts & Entertainment Education


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 13, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sparta Students Silent Walk Out for School Security

March 14, 2018

SPARTA, NJ –As a show of unity and protest for the school shooting in Parkland Florida one month ago, a couple hundred Sparta High School students walked out of school, standing in silence for 17 minutes.  Each minute represented each of the students killed in the school shooting.

Sparta students joined with students across the country on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Nearly 60 students ...

5 Tips for elected officials

March 9, 2018

Dear Editor,

Wayne Levante, a self-described moderate, business-friendly mayor of Newton since his appointment 8 months ago, has been mired by one misstep and controversy after another.  From peddling debunked conspiracy theories about student “crisis actors” in the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting on social media, attacking residents and calling them ...

6 Easy Ways to Increase Zzzz’s During National Sleep Awareness Month and Beyond!

Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

Soften Up

Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

Feeling Blue

According to a study by Travelodge, ...

4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

Team Nest Builder offers four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting:

Prices Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.  The bottom in home prices came and left. Home values will ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Sparta High School Hosts Second Annual Jazz Festival

March 19, 2018

SPARTA, NJ - The award-winning music department of Sparta High School is hosting its second annual Jazz Festival on Friday, April 13, 2018. The event gathers fifteen top jazz bands from northern New Jersey, who compete for group and individual ratings.

The Festival will once again take place in the modern, thousand-seat auditorium of Sparta High School, where the township’s jazz bands ...