WESTFIELD, NJ — As a child, he wanted to be a firefighter, just like his father.

But on his father’s advice, Christopher Battiloro steered away from the fire service. Instead, he became a police officer, and 22 years after doing so is the department’s top law enforcement official.

“As I became of age, my dreams of becoming a Westfield firefighter, like my father, were abruptly dashed when he made it explicitly clear that he would never hire me,” Battiloro said Thursday. “Instead, he encouraged me to become a police officer.”

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Battiloro, son of the late Westfield Fire Chief Paul Battiloro, took the oath of office as family members and a standing-room-only audience at Town Hall looked on.

“It is a tremendous honor for me, a Westfield boy, to serve as Westfield’s 10th chief of police,” Battiloro said.

Battiloro became the department’s acting chief in August, following the abrupt departure of the department’s former chief, David Wayman. In December, Battiloro was appointed the chief.

“We’ve fallen behind in some very critical areas,” Battiloro said. “We have a lot to accomplish in the coming year.”

In 2019, Battiloro will earn $153,500, under the approved resolution.

The chief, a lifelong Westfield resident, has already started a test-run of body cameras, which he anticipates rolling out to the entire department this year. The cameras, he said, will be mostly be paid for with asset forfeiture monies, proceeds from the seizure of goods used in crimes.

Battiloro promised more training for the officers.

“They all have special skills and talents, which for years have not been put to their best use,” Battiloro said. “We will empower our police officers and give them the proper equipment and training to excel.”

The department will seek a state accreditation to ensure it implements best practices, he said. Accreditation typically leads to lower insurance premiums for municipalities.

“It takes a lot more than hard work to get here,” Battiloro said. “It takes a tremendous personal commitment, a dedication and a sacrifice, which most men are not willing to give.”

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh