The Borough of Caldwell held a ceremony Thursday night at to honor past and present members of the Caldwell Police Department.
Recently was presented with a proclamation and clock by the mayor and council for his 28 years of service on the department, the last four as chief. Retired Sgt. Robert Fortunato, who joined the department in 1986, was also honored.
New badges were presented to the agency’s newly promoted and hired officers, Chief James Bongiorno, Det. Lt. Anthony Marta, Sgts. George Henderson and Michael Geary, and Patrol Officers Michael Kraynanski, Justin Rizzo and Justin Misano.
Dressed in a gray suit rather than a police uniform, Dombrowski called himself “the world’s biggest mush” and fought back tears as he addressed the roomful of family, friends and supporters.
Dombrowski said he had never experienced a night like Thursday set aside to recognize Caldwell’s finest in all his years on the department.
The former chief acknowledged the town’s perennial distinction as the safest in the county as a measure of the quality of the .
“There was nothing we couldn’t do and it wasn’t because of me,” he said, giving credit to the hard work and commitment of the members of the department, the majority of which was present at the ceremony.
He said although his retirement was effective Jan. 1, he still comes to town nearly every day.
“Caldwell is my home, it will remain my home,” he said.
The , James “Jimmy” Bongiorno,” spoke highly of the former chief in his remarks.
“He would never say 'no' to anybody,” Bongiorno said. He said he remembers when Dombrowski became chief he pledged to leave the department better than when he started, adding that Dombrowski did just that.
Among those present in the college's Alumni Theater were police chiefs from neighboring West Essex towns of West Caldwell, North Caldwell, Essex Fells and Fairfield, as well as Essex County Sherriff Armando Fortunato, Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Essex), Freeholder Leonard Luciano and representatives from state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Caldwell Councilman and Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Murray said in the past the borough has delayed replacing chiefs and filling vacancies.
“We took a stance and decided not to let this happen on our watch,” Murray said about the governing body.
In his closing remarks, Murray said with a new chief, three new hires, two new vehicles, an in place and other new initiatives, 2012 will be a “very exciting” year for the department.
One thing to expect is a greater presence of the CPD in the town’s business district thanks to the designation of a Community Relations Officer. Murray said the police will be able to provide “a presence that will let shoppers and merchants know they are being looked after.”
Retired Sgt. Fortunato was not present at the ceremony because he has moved to North Carolina to join his wife and daughter.
The ceremony was followed by a reception in the Student Center.