Department History

Tenafly Police Department Group Photo in the Early 1920sThe photo shows the Tenafly Police Department in the early 1920s. Pictured (standing, left to right) are Ed Delehanty, John Slattery, Tom O’Neill, and John Gray. Also pictured, seated, left to right, are Chief McLaughlin, Mayor Westervelt, and Theodore Taverniere.

In the days before Tenafly became a borough, homeowners formed Protective Associations and paid their own fees to Borough Marshalls to enforce the law. In 1918, the police department was formally established as we know it today.

George McLaughlin was the first Borough Marshall, later becoming Chief of Police. The next Chief was Theodore Taverniere, who was appointed Chief for a Day, so he could retire at a higher pension. Following him was Chester B. Campbell, who was Chief for many years. He was succeeded by Chief Henry Reitz, then Chief Nicodemus Amicucci, Chief Allen Layne, and Chief Michael Bruno. As of February 2013, the department is led by Chief Robert Chamberlain. Sadly, Chief Amicucci and Chief Layne both passed away in 2012. Chief Bruno retired in January of 2013 and remains a Tenafly resident.

As the borough evolved and grew, the police department did too. In the early days, the policeman’s duties included lighting the gas lanterns used as street lights, greeting people at the train station, working the railroad gates by hand, and being on the lookout for stills that were used to make illegal liquor. Every incident was recorded by writing it in a huge, bound ledger that was replaced each year. Most of these enormous books are still kept in our Borough Hall today.

The staffing levels have changed as well. From one Marshall, the department grew as the town has grown over the years. In 1918, the Chief of Police had five officers under his command. Today, the Chief oversees 33 police officers, a civilian staff of 9, and 27 paid crossing guards.

Today’s department is truly a 21st-century agency using state-of-the-art technology. From wireless, encrypted computer networks to in-car computers, it is very different from the days of hand-held lanterns and coal stoves. As Tenafly moves into the future, the Tenafly Police Department must move ahead with it.

The men and women of the Tenafly Police Department look forward to serving this community with the same dedication and professionalism that has been our trademark for decades, making Tenafly a safe community for all who live, work, and visit here.