Wayne Diana Retiring from South Plainfield Police Department

 Councilman Christopher ‘CJ’ Diana (right) swears in his father, Wayne Diana, as Lieutenant of the South Plainfield Police Department in January 2014.  Credits: Photo courtesy of Wayne Diana
 Wayne Diana began his three-decade long career with the South Plainfield Police Department in the Uniformed Patrol Division Credits: Photo courtesy of Wayne Diana

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Wayne Diana knew from a young age that he wanted to become a police officer and was fortunate enough to do so for the town he has called home his whole life. He will officially retire from the South Plainfield Police Department on April 1 after more than 33 years of service.

Diana’s ancestors were some of the original founders of South Plainfield. His father’s relatives, the Randolph’s, are descendants of the Fitz-Randolph family that settled in the Randolphville section of Piscataway in the late 1800s. “My family has deep, deep roots in this town,” said Diana, noting there is also a long-standing tradition of volunteer firefighting. “It was a tradition in my family to volunteer for the fire department. My great grandfather was a member, both my grandfathers and my father and brother.”

Growing up, Diana spent quite a bit of time at the firehouse and, back in the day, even had the opportunity to tag along on calls but never joined the fire department himself. “From the time I was a little boy I knew I wanted to join the Marine Corps after graduation and then become a police officer,” he said, adding that he was greatly influenced growing up by his neighbor who had been a Marine. “I would see him in his dress blues and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

Sign Up for E-News

Diana enlisted in the Marine Corps while still in high school and two weeks after graduation left for basic training at Parris Island, SC. He spent more than two of his three years in Japan. Within a year of discharge, Diana applied to the Somerville, Piscataway, Plainfield, North Plainfield and South Plainfield police departments and, in September 1981, secured a job with his hometown force. He attended the Middlesex County Police Academy, graduating in December 1981. The next month, he was assigned to South Plainfield’s Uniformed Patrol Division.

“I tested for those other towns and would have taken a job elsewhere and then worked my way over here,” Diana said. “My heart was always in South Plainfield and I knew this was home for me.”

As a member of the South Plainfield Police Department, Diana served as a patrol officer for eight years, two of which were spent working with a K-9 partner. In May 1989, he was selected for temporary assignment with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force and that October accepted a permanent investigator’s position. In January 1990, he attended the Division of Criminal Justice Advanced Course for Investigators and, upon completion, began duties as an undercover narcotics investigator.


Later that year, Diana left the prosecutor’s office and was rehired by South Plainfield where he resumed his patrol duties. In October 2005, Diana was promoted to sergeant and, last January, was promoted to lieutenant. He served as watch commander in the patrol division until last November when back issues caused him to take a leave a few months prior than his scheduled retirement.


During his tenure with the South Plainfield Police Department, Diana has been awarded numerous honors and accolades, including but not limited to, the Police Department Medal of honor, the Middlesex County ‘200 Club’ Valor Award,’ two Exceptional Duty Medals, two Honorable Service Medals, two Honor Guard Medals, the Police K-9 Service Medal, the Military Service Medal, a Special Operations Squad Medal, a Field Training Officer Medal and an Emergency Medical Technician Medal. Additionally, in 2003, he received the James Caffrey Memorial Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars naming him VFW New Jersey Police Officer of the Year.

“I always felt one of the most important parts of police work was the service part,” said Diana, noting that he always encouraged his officers to do something good and positive every tour. According to Diana, small things such as changing a flat tire for a disabled motorist or stopping to give someone directions or showing them the way can make all the difference.

“You can make a lot of arrests and write a lot of tickets and in most cases, all the calls you go on – whether for a car accident, a burglary or a domestic issue – are going to be negative experiences for people and, as a result, cops get viewed in a negative light,” he said. “I’ve always told them to imagine it is their wife, mother or kid sister. Sometimes putting a different face in that car makes it easier to do the right thing.”

Over the course of his more than 33 years with the South Plainfield Police Department, Diana said he has moments that stand out as ‘best,’ ‘worst,’ ‘saddest’ and ‘most memorable.’ “I’ve seen just about anything and everything,” he said, noting that the murder of a South Plainfield firefighter in his Merchants Avenue home in 2012 and serving as a first responder immediately following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are among the worst moments of his career.

On the evening of 9/11, Diana and a team of about 60 officers from Middlesex County, including two others from South Plainfield, took a bus to Staten Island, a ferry over to Manhattan and then walked to Ground Zero to assist in search and rescue efforts. They worked through the night, leaving when the sun came up.  “It was by far the most horrifying thing I have ever seen,” said Diana.

His ‘best’ list includes much happier moments, including a November 1983 call in which he helped deliver a baby boy in a house and, most recently, being sworn in as lieutenant by his oldest child, Councilman Christopher ‘CJ’ Diana. “This really does top my list. It was the first time it has ever happened where a son, as councilman, swore in their dad’ it usually happens the other way around. It was a unique thing and a proud moment,” said Diana.

Although he was eligible to retire 8.5 years ago, Diana said the plan he and his wife Janice had was continue working until all three of his kids – Christopher, Stacey and Lauren – finished college.

“When you have kids in college you have to work but this was always the game plan. We were committed to working until after they all finished college because we were determined to provide them with more than what our own parents could do for us,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean he plans to sit around and do nothing. In fact, Diana has plans to put the two-year degree that took him 25 years to earn to good use. Despite earning a year’s worth of credits while in the Marines and being eligible to continue his education free for 10 years after discharge, Diana didn’t complete his degree until March 2005. At this time, he received an associate degree in public and social services with a concentration in criminal justice from Thomas Edison State College and immediately applied to the state to become a certified substitute teacher. He can teach all subjects in K-12 at any school district in Middlesex County but hopes to return to subbing at South Plainfield in the near future.

Additionally, the Diana’s, who will celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary this May, plan to spend time at their Jersey Shore summer home, sailing the Barnegat Bay in their 25’ sailboat ‘Second Wind.’ However, for the lifelong resident, “South Plainfield will always be home.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Alejandro Garcia Boys’ Spring Track

The South Plainfield Boys’ Spring Track has continued to be one of the most successful programs for the Spring Athletic Season.  The Boys’ have been dominate in the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division for the last few years.  After being decimated by graduation, the Tigers were not sure what the season would hold.  South Plainfield once again won the Blue ...

The Athlete of the Week Christopher Shine Baseball

The South Plainfield High School baseball team is continuing to have a successful 2018 season with a record of 15-9. This past week, the Tigers went 4-0 beating out of conference foes North Hunterdon, Montgomery, and Bernards.  They finished the week with a win in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, over Carteret.   A major contributor to South ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...


South Plainfield – Dorothy Rotola, 91, passed away Thursday, May 24, 2018 in Ashbrook Nursing ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Tree Olano Says "Thank You"

May 23, 2018

The infamous “Senior Gardens” is a huge part of the senior center .  The vegetables are all planted and ready for a fruitful harvest!

I wanted to extend a “thank you” the following people who made this happen:

The  Department of Public Works – Kristina Nieradka for taking my many calls with kindness and professionalism; Donna Zereconski, ...

Middlesex County College Graduates 1480 Students May 17

May 22, 2018

EDISON, NJ - A total of 1514 degrees and certificates were awarded to 1480 students by Middlesex County College Thursday, May 17 at the 51st annual Commencement exercises witnessed by approximately 3500 guests at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Valedictorian Sindhu Murthy (Highland Park) delivered the class welcome, sharing her experiences and aspirations. Ms. Murthy, who graduated in January and ...

Community Happenings


May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 11AM to 5PM, the John E. Riley PTSO (JER PTSO) will be hosting its first ever Food Truck Festival!


Come out for a good time while supporting a good cause! Proceeds from this event will go to replacing the 2 broken playground structures at John E. Riley Elementary School costing approximately $80,000. 11+ food trucks including ...

Holy Savior Academy to Hold 7th Annual 5K Run & Family Walk in June

May 26, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Calling all runners and walkers! Holy Savior Academy will hold its 7th Annual 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Walk on Saturday, June 2. Proceeds from this year’s family-friendly event will benefit the school’s academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs.

“Holy Savior Academy’s annual 5K offers the school an opportunity to provide other ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

South Plainfield 10U White Travel Team Wins USA Softball NJ D2 Spring Championship

May 26, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield 10U White travel team didn’t let the poor weather deter them as they racked up an undefeated spring season and won the NJ D2 Spring League. The 10U Tigers won the championship back on May 20th.

Great job and congratulations to the girls and coaches. Below are the 10U White Champs:

Manager/Coaches: Sharon Davis, Mike Mazzarese, Rich ...

Road Projects - Closures

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ -  Road resurfacing continues on Joan Street between South Plainfield Avenue and Maple Avenue plus Michael Street.  Roadways are closed to local traffic only.  This information was sent via Nixle Alert.

Staying Fit at the Senior Center

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Staying fit and getting plenty of good exercise is a high priority at the South Plainfield Senior Center, located at 90 Maple Avenue in South Plainfield. Classes on health issues and a wide range of physical exercise are available almost daily.

The Walking Group meets every Friday, weather permitting, starting on May 18 and going through October. Participants meet at the ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, May 28, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Memorial Day Services ­Announced

Wed, May 30, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield Public Library, South Plainfield

Town-Wide Girl Scout Registration

Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy 5K and Family Fun Walk

Health & Wellness


Diegnan & Ruiz Bill to Establish Grant Program to Develop Dual Language Immersion Programs Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz to establish a grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs was released from the Senate Education Committee today.


“The best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program,” said ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.


The South Plainfield Public Library will be closed this Sunday, May 27 and Monday, May 28 due to Memorial Day.  Because of the holiday, there will be no movie showing this week on Monday evening or Wednesday afternoon.  Monday Night Movies will resume the week of June 4, with a newly released selection.

This Saturday, May 26, the library is hosting a Mario Kart Tournament: Blindfold ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Welcomes You

The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is welcoming new members. Enjoy creative fund raisers, interesting activities while participating on standing committees, informative monthly programs, and the camaraderie of women whose efforts enhance the community. The club meets at 1:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month, September through June, at the American ...

Press Releases

Hunterdon Polo Classic Set For June 9 in Pittstown, N.J.

May 26, 2018

PITTSTOWN, N.J. — Fieldview Farm is continuing their long tradition of raising funds and awareness for local charities with the Hunterdon Polo Classic, scheduled on Saturday, June 9.

If weather or field conditions or poor the event will be held June 10.

Located in Pittstown, N.J., directly off Route 78 at exit 15, Fieldview Farm features 150 acres of lush green pastures and farmland, ...