ESSEX FELLS, NJ — After 30 years of service, Essex Fells Chief of Police Vincent Kulik, Jr., a longtime Livingston resident, retired on Feb. 1, 2017. William Theilacker of the Essex Fells Police Department will be sworn in as the new Chief of Police on Feb. 7 at Essex Fells School.
After graduating from Livingston High School in 1975 and Union County Technical Institute in 1977, Kulik worked as a technician for the RCA Service Company, where he was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1430 in New York City.
Kulik, who is also a 42-year member of the Livingston Fire Department, began his law enforcement career in Livingston in January 1987 as a “chanceman,” an entry-level police officer position. He graduated from the Essex County Police Academy in May 1987 and was recruited by the Essex Fells Police Department as a patrolman in 1988. Kulik was promoted to Chief of Police in October 2009.
“It’s been a very enjoyable time here,” said Kulik. “I had some really memorable calls during my term.”
Kulik reminisced on one specific incident in the mid 90s when he put his firefighter skills to good use saving a family from a potentially tragic situation. Despite feeling sick and debating going home at 3 a.m., Kulik decided it was his duty as a police officer to stick out the night and was glad he did.
Sitting behind the police station that night, Kulik smelled the distinct odor of smoke and with the help of another officer went house-to-house looking for the source. They discovered that a home on Roseland Ave was full of smoke and did not have detectors, but Kulik’s experience as a firefighter helped the officers get the family to safety.
“Had I not woken them up, I think it could’ve been a real tragic ending,” said Kulik. “That was probably the most rewarding thing I ever did.”
Once his retirement becomes official on Wednesday, Kulik intends to focus on completing his Master’s Degree at Fairleigh Dickinson. In the meantime, things have come full circle for Kulik, as he is temporarily substitute teaching in the Livingston Public Schools system.
Since becoming Chief, Kulik has instituted a Motorcycle Unit, Narcotics Unit, and updated the rules and regulations to comply with NJSACOP accreditation. The Essex Fells police facility has also been remodeled, added a Firearms Cleaning Unit, installed workstations for Department Supervisors and enhanced security.
“There’s only 13 police officers in Essex Fells, so you’re only a small member but you tend to be more noticeable and you have to wear a lot of hats,” said Kulik. “I enjoy knowing the people. I feel personally responsible for them and it’s a very, very good feeling working in a small town.”
During his law enforcement career, Kulik has received numerous awards and commendations including Meritorious, Life-Saving, Criminal Apprehension, Exceptional and Unit Citations.
He is the immediate past President of the Association of Chiefs of Police of Essex County, serving as president during 2015 and 2016. Kulik is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
In addition to being a member of the Livingston Fire Department, Kulik is also a member of the Livingston Benevolent Paternal Order of Elks Lodge 1855; the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association (West Essex PBA Local 81); Essex County Emerald Society Chapter Number 1; and the Knights of Columbus #3533 of Livingston.
Vincent and his wife, Judy, have been married for 34 years and are the parents of Lianne, 27, a teacher of history at Long Branch High School and Michael, 23, a New Jersey State Trooper.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. Essex Fells School will host the promotion and swearing-in ceremony of Chief William Theilacker, Lieutenant Darren Volker, Sergeant Joseph Matrisciano, Officer Jonathan Berger. A reception will follow immediately after the ceremony at the Essex Fells Service Building.