WAYNE, NJ – For the last nine months, Jack McNiff has been the ‘acting’ Chief of Police for Wayne Township. He is no longer acting. In a formal and very private ceremony held in the Wayne council chambers, McNiff and six other Wayne Police officers, who were in "acting" status, were officially sworn-in today.
The officers, immaculate in their dress uniforms, were escorted in to the chambers by the Wayne Police Department Color Guard and the Passaic County Pipe and Drums who played an energetic rendition of Amazing Grace on bagpipes and drums. This was followed by a flag salute.
Mayor Chris Vergano had the honor of performing the ceremony. “Typically, the room would be full and overflowing with people,” said Vergano. “But due to the circumstances that we’re facing today, we have a limited amount of people here.”
Ringed along the outer rim of the chamber, six feet apart, in their dress uniforms and donning masks were member of the Wayne Police Department who witnessed the proceedings in mute silence, standing at attention.
Vergano pointed out two retired Chiefs of Police in attendance. The first was McNiff’s father, John McNiff, who was the Bloomfield Police Chief for 20 years. The second was recently retired Wayne Police Chief James Clarke. Both received loud applause in recognition from the small crowd.
“The most important decision a Mayor can make is the choice of Chief of Police,” said Vergano as way of introduction. “Because the Chief of Police sets the tone for the community and makes sure that all of our residents stay safe.”
The Mayor gave McNiff high praise for his leadership over the last few months.
“This man,” he said, pointing to McNiff, “guided the police department under conditions none of us have ever seen before, or anticipated.”
McNiff was sworn in with his wife, daughter and sons holding the bible. It was a proud moment for him and his family, but especially for his father.
The other six officers were introduced by McNiff, and as each took their turn at the front of the chamber, their families filed in from outside to witness the ceremony.
- Captain Keith McDermott is the head of the Internal Affairs Division and is a member of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
- Captain Chris Wittig supervises the Patrol Division. This is the largest division in the department and also encompasses the enforcement and traffic bureaus.
- Lieutenant Jason Goller supervises the communications bureau, which is charged with all 9-1-1 and dispatch services for police, fire, and EMS. He is also the head of C.E.R.T. for OEM.
- Detective Lieutenant Scott Rappaport is assigned to the investigative division and helps oversee all criminal investigations, as well as the LEAD Program, Marine Squad, and school resource officers.
- Sergeant Elliot Lyons and Skylar Cauceglia are front-line supervisors in the patrol division and are also involved in training.
At the end of the ceremony, Vergano said: “You can rest assured the future of the police department is in good hands with the group that we have promoted tonight.”
McNiff then spoke very briefly thanking the Mayor and Neal Bellet, the Township Business Administrator. “I want to thank you for having the faith in me for this outstanding role,” he said. “I’m very blessed to have an amazing command staff to support me, and I have 114 amazing men and women who go out every day in the midst of this pandemic, facing an invisible enemy. They do so with pride and with dedication.”
“On behalf of the Wayne Township Police Department, I want to thank the Wayne community for your continued support,” McNiff said in conclusion.