ROSELLE, NJ - The Roselle Borough Council had a packed audience for the promotions of two Roselle firemen and a new police chief on Wednesday evening.

Officer Brian Barnes took his oath as the fourteenth chief of police in the history of the Roselle police department. Barnes, a veteran captain with the force, will become the first African-American police chief in Borough history when he officially takes office on Feb. 1.

Barnes will succeed Gerard Orlando, who has served as chief since 2008 and is retiring.

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“I am truly honored to lead this well trained and organized department,” Barnes said before a packed council chambers at Wednesday nights' borough council meeting. “Our Roselle community is unique in so many ways and so is our police department. I look forward to working with the mayor and council to ensure the continued success of this community.”

“It’s a special time for the Roselle Police Department,” Orlando said. “Chief Barnes will open a new chapter in law enforcement and I’m happy to see my friend rise to this level.”

Barnes, a 24-year veteran of the department, graduated from the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains in July 1994 and was hired in Roselle, assigned to the patrol division. 

In 2011, Barnes was promoted to the rank of sergeant where he was assigned as the traffic safety supervisor.  In 2015, Chief Barnes was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to special services.

Most recently in 2017, Barnes was promoted to captain and temporarily assigned as a patrol commander.

“Because of his extensive knowledge of Roselle and its residents, chief Barnes represents a new era of community policing, and has forged relationships in every corner of our town,” said Council President Reginald Atkins, who also serves as the chair of the Borough’s public safety committee.

Mayor Christine Dansereau thanked the retiring chief Orlando for his service to Roselle and praised Barnes for his departmental leadership.

“When we elevate someone of Brian Barnes’ caliber through the ranks all the way to chief, it shows that the Roselle Police Department is well prepared for not only succession but also the leadership necessary to gain the trust and support of the rank and file,” Dansereau said. “For nearly 25 years, chief Barnes has shown the community and his colleagues his ability to lead this agency.”

Councilwoman Carla Walker, who represents the Borough’s second ward and also serves on the council’s public safety committee, said Barnes’ knowledge of Roselle will be an asset.

“Roselle is a tight-knit community, with residents who look out for each other. It’s essential that our police officers understand that and can be part of the community fabric. Chief Barnes represents that,” Walker said.

Assemblyman Jamel Holley, whose district includes Roselle, echoed Atkins’ sentiment: “Not only is this monumental tonight. This is history.”

Also promoted at the meeting were two Roselle firemen. Eric Pearson was promoted to fire battalion chief and Richard Gregorio to fire captain.

Highlights of all of the promotions can be viewed below.

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