A group of police chiefs from throughout Bergen County have elected Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli as their leader, and at a swearing in ceremony at the Venetian in Garfield Friday night, local officials said the new position is one that brings prestige to the township.
The Bergen County Police Chiefs Association, a group of chiefs that works to promote cooperation between law enforcement agencies and advocates on behalf of police agencies, held a swearing in ceremony for its 2014 officers Friday night. The event’s headliner was Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli, who was sworn in by County Prosecutor John Molinelli as the association’s president.
Batelli called the BCPCA an, “amazing organization that truly helps law enforcement professionals.”
In a speech after he was sworn in, Batelli talked about mounting concerns of the law enforcement industry, due mostly, he said, to cost-cutting measures that are affecting local PDs. During his one-year term as president of the organization, the police chief said he would work to improve law enforcement services in Bergen County, increase law enforcement agencies’ social media presence, increase active shooter drills and preparation, help alleviate traffic issues, actively oppose the “legalization and decriminalization” of marijuana, and actively work against a movement to replace police chiefs with politicians as heads of police agencies.
Batelli also thanked many people during his speech, including his family, Mahwah government officials, the “current and former members” of the Mahwah PD, who he said he is “fortunate to work with,” and the members of the Mahwah Municipal Alliance, who Batelli said, “help make Mahwah a wonderful community.”
Batelli told an audience of about 400 people at the ceremony Friday that he felt, “truly blessed” to be taking over as president of the association.
In a keynote address to state representatives, police and government dignitaries, other county chiefs, and a large group of Mahwah residents, township Mayor Bill Laforet commended Batelli for his work in the township, and said he was proud to have Batelli represent Mahwah in this countywide role.
“You have chosen a great man to be your leader,” Laforet said.
“I am proud to call him my neighbor and my friend.”
Molinelli also commended Batelli on his dedication and professionalism before swearing him in to the post.
Also sworn in at Friday’s ceremony were the rest of the association’s officers, chiefs of other police agencies:
- Chief Joseph Rutigliano of Wood Ridge PD – First Vice President
- Chief Frank Regino of Westwood – Second Vice President
- Chief Edwin Kasper of Oakland – Third Vice President
- Chief Joseph Madden of Park Ridge – Recording Secretary
- Chief Frederick Stahman of Glen Rock – Financial Secretary
- Chief Thomas Johnson of Elmwood Park – Sergeant at Arms
- Chief John Burke of Bogota – Treasurer
Batelli joined the MPD in 1978 and has served as chief since 2001. He lives in the township with his wife and two daughters. According to the BCPCA website, he is the first chief from Mahwah to serve as the association’s president.