ESSEX FEELS, NJ - Essex Fells Police Chief William Theilacker retired last week after serving the town for three decades. Dozens of friends and colleagues saluted him with a drive by parade.
Theilacker, a Livingston native, became interested in law enforcement while working for Arnie’s Electronics during college. The owner of the shop was an auxiliary policeman. After some encouraged from his boss, Theilacker signed up to volunteer for the auxiliary police.
“I was assigned to help direct motorists when people arrived at and departed from synagogue on Saturdays and Sundays,” He recalled. “I also worked at the Kiwanis Karnival and went on ride alongs with police officers.”
Despite his work with the auxiliary police, Theilacker’s original plan was to become an electrical engineer. After earning his degree in the field, he realized that his heart was in law enforcement. His official 30-year police career began when he joined the Essex Fells Police Department on July 2, 1990.
Along with his career in the field, he is multi-lingual, a certified Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) instructor, a trained EMT, a CPR instructor and an IT officer.
Some of his favorite career memories include patrolling on motorcycle, working with students through DARE and participating in the annual Police Unity Bike Tour.
Theilacker enjoyed patrolling on motorcycle because residents often approached him. “Children loved sitting on the motorcycle and adults initiated conversations.” He liked interacting with residents.
He also found motorcycle school very interesting. Theilacker had been riding motorcycles for years but found out in his two-week class that there were a lot of ways to improve his riding techniques.
Another highlight of his career was participating in D.A.R.E. He began in 1998, just before he and his wife became parents for the first time. Conversing with the students gave him insights about children before he became a dad. He also noted that during his years with the department he watched his D.A.R.E. students become adults.
Theilacker has fond memories of the Police Unity Bike Tour, a 250-mile motorcycle ride from Florham Park to Washington D.C. that culminates at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
The Police Unity Tour’s dual mission is to raise awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty and to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Connecting with and helping people were two reasons why Theilacker enjoyed being a police officer.
He said, “I’ll miss seeing my police family [...] I will also miss the community. I have many lasting friendships with the residents of Essex Fells because we often checked back on people after resolving issues for them.”
Captain Darren Volker praised the retired Chief, saying, “I have worked with Chief Theilacker for 25 years. What I most admire is his work ethic, he always put 100% into everything he did. That’s what he’s most known for, he always gave 100% to the department.”
Theilacker said he plans to relax and adjust to retirement for a while and following his career, he will likely volunteer as an EMT.