SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Police Department will have a new chief as of June 2. Neil Spidaletto will be promoted to the position in a ceremony open to the community in the Sparta High School auditorium, Spidaletto’s alma mater. Sparta Township Manager Bill Close made the announcement at the council meeting on Tuesday.
Spidaletto has served under the title “acting chief” since Ernie Reigstad retired in March.
Spidaletto's 23 years experience in the Sparta Police Department began in 1995 when he started as a patrolman. In 1999 he rose to the rank of Detective, in 2003 he was promoted to Sergeant and Lieutenant in 2013.
A Sparta High School alumnus, Spidaletto has a Masters of Public Administration in Human Resources from Seton Hall. He received his bachelors degree in Political Science from Villanova University. Spidaletto recently attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy.
Looking at the challenges before him Spidaletto points to the principals of policing that “have not changed over centuries.” Drawing their authority from those whom they serve, “law enforcement has certainly gotten more complex in the two decades” he has served.
“Just as when I started, we…are expected to…enforce all the laws of the state,” Spidaletto said. “The challenges arise in the fact that we are expected to do so much more. There are many more laws, guidelines and directives to be informed on and followed.”
Advances in technology also present new challenges to policing.
“Transparency has been in the forefront of law enforcement with many more agencies acquiring body cameras memorializing nearly all interactions,” Spidaletto said. “I see these as positive changes and am confident that Sparta officers are conducting themselves in a professional way.”
Body cameras are only one example of the technological advances that impact policing according to Spidaletto. He noted that while they can assist officers in their duties, they must be diligently trained to ensure a level of professionalism is maintained.
Assisting residents who have mental health or addiction challenges is another example of the changes in policing.
“Law enforcementofficers throughout the state are required to receive training on how to effectively handle these types of incidents,” Spidaletto said. “We are committed to partnering with Newton Chief Mike Richards and the Center for Prevention and Counseling in the CLEAR program. Sparta’s recent commitment to the Stigma Free Initiative supports that program.”
The challenges arise in making sure that the officers of the Sparta Police Department are completely informed, trained, and capable of handling these multitude of changes, according to Spidaletto.
There are a few other initiatives Spidaletto is working on as well. The department has had a goal of attaining accreditation through the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
“We just recently received notification that we have been accepted to this program,” Spidaletto said. “This process will allow our agency to further enhance our performance and objectives.”
The accreditation will institutionalize best practices from agencies throughout the state. It represents “a significant professional achievement for the department. I am confident that our agency will not have any problem meeting these standards.”
The chief is looking forward to continuing the Public Safety Commission and Community Matters efforts. He points to storm preparation and educating the children of the community with Law Enforcement Against Drugs or LEAD officers in the schools as initiatives that continue to strengthen the relationships between the police and the community.
School security oversight “has always been a priority” for the Sparta Police Department. While much has been done “to prepare and respond to any incident at schools and daycare centers,” Spidaletto is committed to “continued evaluation and training.”
“We always encourage the community to be aware and contact us with anything they believe is suspicious or something they feel we should know,” Spidaletto said. “It is with the assistance of the community that crimes may be prevented.”
“He has proven himself as a respected leader throughout the organization who has displayed an exceptional level of professionalism during his career in law enforcement,” Close said.
He noted Spidaletto had been raised in Sparta and he is raising his family in this community as well. The Chief’s father was also a Sparta police officer for 16 years.
“He is dedicated to serving the residents of the community and to the men and women under his command,”Close said.
“I would like to extend an invitation to anyone in the community who may want to attend and observe the promotional ceremony,” Spidaletto said. The June 2 event is scheduled to being at 6 p.m.