SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – At last week’s Scotch Plains Council meeting, Lieutenant Jeff Briel and Mayor Al Smith introduced three new police recruits to the community:

Richard Sopko
Richard Sopko grew up in Clark and graduated from ALJ High School in 2006. After high school, he attended Clemson University and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Science. In the Summer of 2010, he enlisted with the NJ National Guard to become a combat medic and in June 2014 was deployed as the senior medic with an infantry company in Qatar for nine months.

After returning from Qatar, Sopko moved to Scotch Plains and graduated from the NJ Department of Corrections Academy in November 2016. He has been working at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility (CRAF) Prison in Trenton, NJ. Additionally, he is currently a Staff Sergeant and Assistant Medical Platoon Sergeant with the 1-102 CAV out of the Westfield Armory.

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Michael Smolinski
Smolinski has lived in Scotch Plains most of his life and graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in 2007. He spent six and a half years in the military as an infantryman split between active duty and Army National Guard with one combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011. He left the service in May 2016.

"I served my country and now it is time to serve my community," said Somlinski, who has been working towards finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Management at DeVry University.

Charles Tripet
Born and raised in Scotch Plains, Charles Tripet graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in 1999 and entered the U.S. Army Reserves in February 2000. He served a 12-month combat tour in Iraq, where he earned several service medals and accommodations in 2005. Upon returning, he has served in the public sector for more than a decade, first with Union County Parks and later with the Scotch Plains DPW.

"I look forward to continue serving the community of Scotch Plains as a police officer," Tripet says.

The Township will have a formal swearing in ceremony once the recruits are officially hired as police officers by the SPPD. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.