Glen Ridge

Department History

The first concept of a public police force originated in London, England in the eighteenth century. Metropolitan centers and developing industrial areas of the time were experiencing disorder, crime and rioting.

Sir Robert Peel, whose officers became known as "Bobbies" embraced the ideals of a police force that would model a just and proper value system of policing. The goal was to "keep peace by peaceful means."

The United States began to integrate the policing model beginning in 1840. The United States police were organized as a quasi-military force; they wore uniforms and patrolled the streets 24 hours a day.

On February 13, 1895 the Borough of Glen Ridge was incorporated as a community, succeeding from Bloomfield, New Jersey. The Glen Ridge section of Bloomfield was also known as "the Hill." The initiation of secession was predicated upon an unfair amount of taxes not being returned to the Hill section. Residents were looking for more street lamps and paved roads as well as other improvements. After many attempts to bring these improvements forward, with no progress being made, it was resolved to break away from Bloomfield. The Glen Ridge Police Department was created at the same time.

Blotter Entry

The first Police Blotter entry of Glen Ridge Police Department is hand-written with fine script penmanship, simply stating:

"Monday, May 20, 1895 Thomas Cullin resident of Glen Ridge begin duty on police service 12 hours per day at the note of $50.00 per month subject to the pleasure of the Mayor and Council. His uniform supplied by the Borough. Assigned Day service."

As we read the official police blotter, a small book preserved for future generations, the reader falls back into time swiftly, with each turn of a page the growth and the development of the Glen Ridge Police Department and the community unfolds.

The second police officer for the Borough of Glen Ridge entered into the journal read:

"John Egan, Herman Street Glen Ridge, began duty on police service 12 hours per day at the note of $50.00 per month subject to the pleasure of the Mayor and Council. On this same day, assigned Night service."

Saturday, May 25, 1895 Thomas Higgins as the third police officer was assigned Night Service. In September 1895 Marshall Higgins died after a very short illness.

By July 30, 1895, a one-week duration of changing shifts from days to evenings was established. "This change to be arranged and kept up by agreement among the men to suit their condition."

October 1, 1895 "Marshall Thomas Carty assigned to active service on police force. Usual terms and conditions as established"

May 1, 1898 "Salary of police officers increased to $60.00 per month. Borough to furnish uniforms as usual."

An entry-recorded for Sunday, May 28, 1899 3:00 PM reads "Officer Carty (on-duty) Egan and Brown broke up a game of "craps" on Indian Hill above Moffatts Trestle bridge. The players escaped being warned by a whistle before the officers were close enough to capture any of them."

As pictured on this web site, the Glen Ridge Police Department is one of the first police departments to utilize police canine - German shepherd dogs during their foot patrols. In 1910, two dogs from Belgium were purchased to aid the night patrols.

During the early 1900's the Borough of Glen Ridge was experiencing a rash of burglaries; the inception of the "Police K-9" brought a steep drop in crime. In 1913 the Borough purchased two motorcycles, the garage once used to stow the two units is now used by the Department of Public Works - Water Department as a workshop. The ramp leading down to the basement area is still discernible and the number identifying the garage bays remains as one of the last reminders of the police history. The first actual motorcycle was invented by Gottlieb Daimler in 1885, a German Engineer. Bill Harley and Arthur Davidson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin became the first inventors of the motorcycle within the Untied States in 1903. The earliest record this author could find of a police department using a motorcycle was in 1908 by the Oakland Police Department Oakland, California. They had one "Indian model" motorcycle that resembled a bicycle more than what would be considered a motorcycle by today's standards.

By 1954 when Police Officer Robert Kerris (Retired Lieutenant) joined the force the motorcycles were being phased out of service and the use of unmarked cars became the popular mode for patrol.

In June 2006 Chief John Magnier, with the support of the Borough Administrator Michael Rohal; Mayor Carl Bergmanson and the Borough Council the tradition of a Motor Officer returned with the lease of one Harley-Davidson Road King. The Motorcycle is supported with a siren and lighting system composed of LED warning lights providing maximum visibility from all sides of the unit. The old "pipe light" typically mounted at the rear of the motorcycle is no longer needed due to the technological advanced in LED lighting. Police Officer Christopher Grogan was assigned as the Motor Officer. Officer Grogan is a passionate rider and owns three motorcycles himself. He has been riding for many years and offers talent and enthusiasm to this new assignment. He was required to attend and pass an intense two-week class for Motor Operations conducted by the nationally recognized Maryland State Police Motor Officers Training Course. Officer Grogan completed second in his class, attending the Bergen County Police/Fire Public Safety Institute. As a Certified Motor Officer, Grogan is permitted to wear upon his uniform the wheeled wing logo, identifying all motor officers.

The addition of the motorcycle has a primary mission for traffic enforcement, school crossings and patrol. The motorcycle is equipped with a hand held radar unit, first aid equipment, oxygen and reports. It is capable of handling any call for service a patrol car would handle. Secondary to its patrol functions, it is used to further the goals of increasing community relations and escort services. The Motor Officer will continue to operate the Police motorcycle for much of the year, with their only limitation being bad weather.

Mounted Bicycle Unit

On May 1, 1901 Officers were required to patrol the Borough "mounted on a bicycle except when it rains or when the streets are muddy." Bicycles were then replaced with motorcycles followed by the automobile. Up through the 1950 police vehicles used by the department were unmarked, it is believed that the low profile of police presence would add to the belief that there were no problems in the Borough. As traffic increased and the attitude of crime prevention cars were fitted with lights and later stripping.

The Bicycle Unit was reinstituted May 1999. Community Policing efforts were being directed toward the neighborhoods and this would project would have significant impact to community relations and crime prevention. A donation was made to the Department, which enabled for the purchase of a 21 speed Cannondale Mountain Bike with all the accessories. By June 2003 Police Officer's Edward Johnson, Charles Roberts III, and Paul Ranges comprised the Bicycle Patrol Unit. Every Police Officer assigned to this detail is required to successfully complete a three-day Bicycle Patrol Riding Course.

1912 - The department had increased to seven Marshals.

1913 - One motorcycle

1923 - First Police Car

1932 - Headquarters in the Municipal Building

1957 - 21 officers

1967 - First Marked police Car

1976 - 26 officers

1983 - Became Department of Public Safety with Police Division/Fire Division and Ambulance Unit.

1985 - 27 Officers through a Safe Neighborhood Grant

1998 - Mobile Date Terminals (MDT?s) added to each patrol car via a '96 COPS MORE Grant

2004 - 26 Officers

2008 - 2 Harley Davidson Motorcycles Road Kings added to the fleet

2009 - 25 Officers /Police Headquarters completely renovated/Technology upgraded with an IT Room and WAN to down load the MDT's

2010 - The Glen Ridge Police Department was reduced to a force of 23 sworn police officers by the Mayor and council during March 2010 due to economic necessity.

The Glen Ridge Police Department had made numerous donations to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Museum, located in Washington D.C.

2011 - Chief Sheila Byron-Lagattuta was sworn in as the Department's first female Chief.

In June 2002 the Department returned to Black & White patrol cars.

Today, the Glen Ridge Police Department is a full service agency working for and with our citizens to enrich and strengthen the quality of life within the Borough. All officers of the Glen Ridge Police Department are committed to excellence in community policing.

Our mission, in part, includes the detection and apprehension of criminals, providing assistance for victims of Domestic Violence, helping to locate a lost child, working with the youth of the community and project our pride and integrity as role models. Our work includes working with business owners, school administrators, Mountainside Hospital, church organizations and neighborhood groups to help in providing a safe and secure place to live work and raise a family.

As we move into the new millennium the men and women of the department are rising to the challenge of new and advance technology, we shall endeavor to uphold the police mission to protect life and property and stride towards continued professional standards.

In January 2004, Mayor Steven P. Plate swore in Captain Sheila Byron-Lagattuta. The Mayor and Borough Council approved the position of captain as a permanent full-time position. James Sheridan last held the post of captain full-time at his retirement during 1983. Prior to 2004, the position of captain was an "acting" post, held by the officer for a few months prior to being sworn in as chief of police. The command structure of the Glen Ridge Police Department presents itself with a strong leadership table of organization.

Unmarked Radar Car
During the mid 1960's the Glen Ridge Police Department started using a mobile radar unit for traffic enforcement. Pictured here is the first radar unit attached to an unmarked police car. Inside the car is Police Office Ken Swain, from left to right is Lieutenant Arthur Carter, Chief Robichaud, and Sergeant Ray Wolski. 1964 Dodge Standard-Size (vs. the Big Dodge 880)  
Station Wagon
Police Officer Thomas P. Dugan and Thomas Guthrie, spring 1967, standing next to the first "marked" car in Glen Ridge Police history. The vehicle was purchased from Boyle Motors in Bloomfield, New Jersey. 1967 Dodge Standard-Size  
It has been stated that the Glen Ridge Police Department was one of the first departments in the nation to use police dogs. A German Shepard and an Australian Shepard, trained and imported from Belgium were sent to Glen Ridge and used to patrol neighborhoods with the walking officers. The dogs only understood commands stated in German. In this picture, an artist completes a painting used for shooting practice and poses with the two dogs.  
Motor Officer Christopher Grogan June 2006  
Cycle Patrol
Cycle Patrol  
Bicycle Patrol Officer Danika Ramos, June 2006  
Police Car
Glen Ridge Chiefs of Police
1905 - 1910 John A. Brown

1910 - 1926 Patrick Higgins (father)

1927 - 1953 William Higgins (son)

1953 - 1957 Howard L. Gardner

1957 - 1970 Henry G. Lieberknecht

1970 - 1982 Arthur A. Robichaud - FBI National Academy 73rd

1982 - 1985 Kenneth R. Swain - FBI National Academy 117th
Appointed by the Mayor and Borough Council as the Director of Public Safety

1986 -1994 Thomas P. Dugan
Appointed by the Mayor and Borough Council as the Director of Public Safety.

1994 - 2001 Robert J. Wohlgemuth
Appointed by the Mayor and Borough Council as the Director of Public Safety.

2001 - 2010 John R. Magnier M.Ed. - FBI National Academy 215th/2001 LEEDA
Appointed by the Mayor and Borough Council as the Director of Public Safety.

2011-present Sheila E. Byron-Lagattuta - 2005 LEDA
Appointed by the Mayor and Borough Council as the Director of Public Safety.
Gas Lamps

Emerging in the 19th Century local governments became more involved with the safety of the growing population. The need was for a source of a night time "safe-guard." It was believed that street lighting would aid in maintaining public order. Weather they actually prevented crime/disorder is unknown and still debated today.

England began using gas lamps in 1805 and in 1825 Germany was using the gas lamp. It was not until 1850 when in America there was a boom in the industry.

A quote recorded when the light was first introduced read:

"...too pure for the human eye and our grandchildren will go blind."

The lamps are operated by a gas pipe-line at low pressure, which had to be manually adjusted, to adjust the open flame. The Lamp Lighter would lower the flame during the day and increase it at night. The gas lamps illuminated a flame 24 hours a day. In1890 the "gas mantle" was developed, it was a small bag placed around the pipe where the flame would emit. The bag would burn in place and the ash of the bag would allow for a brighter and more efficient use of the gas being used.

In 1895 Glen Ridge, "the Hill Section" seceded from Bloomfield for what was professed as a lack of services, by 1914 there were 370 Gas Lamps in Glen Ridge.

Today, September 2005, there are approximately 673 Gas Lamps within the Borough of Glen Ridge. Of the many now utilized there are approximately 12 different styles. Operation of the lamp is simple, there is a constant low gas pressure that has been designed to vent into the atmosphere. It is both natural and man-made gas.

The observer may notice that at most intersections there are gas lamps that have multiple mantles, to illuminate a greater area.

If there is a fire hydrant in the vicinity, a-top the gas lamp there would be a painted red globe. This landmark would allow firefighters quick access to locate a fire hydrant. However, with the use of radio operations and mapping, the Public Safety Department is able to pinpoint every hydrant within the Borough from Police Headquarters.

The Borough of Glen Ridge has kept the gas lamps in place, not only does it add to the charm of the Borough, but it is a functional design for an area that has so many tree lined streets. If the Borough were to upgrade to an electrical system, the cost would be a burden, most electrical lines run behind the properties, not at the street. The old stanchions were made of cast iron, with a glass globe mounted above. Now the new stanchions are made of aluminum and the glass globe has been replaced with lexan globe. Nominal change in style has occurred, old dual mantles use to represent intersections have been replaced by three and some four-mantle lamps-for greater illumination.

The Gas lamps are maintained daily and owned by PSE&G, each lamp costs approximately $1,200.00. By Borough Ordinance it is the responsibility of the Police Department to check and report any damaged or non-illuminating lamps. Glen Ridge accounts for 10% of remaining gas lamps around the nation. There are only two towns in New Jersey currently that continue to use gas lamps - Glen Ridge & South Orange.

The Gas Lamp has become the symbol of the Borough of Glen Ridge, it is the Official Town Seal. It has become part of the Police history displayed on our uniforms, designed into our patch.

By: Chief John R. Magnier M.Ed. (First presented to the Glen Ridge Rotary Club 2002)

A Short History of the Police Patch - Glen Ridge, New Jersey - United States of America

The Borough of Glen Ridge is located in northern New Jersey approximately 15 miles west of New York City, an urban/suburban community of 7,200 residents, daytime work population of approximately 10,000 in a 1.3 square mile area, incorporated in 1895. The department consists of 26 full-time sworn officers and five full-time Community Service Officers. The Glen Ridge Police Department is a full service agency committed to excellence in policing. Our patch displays a gas lamp, these lamps are located throughout the Borough used to illuminate the streets by low-pressure natural gas. We are one of three towns within the State of New Jersey that continues to utilize the natural gas lamps since their inception in 1895.

By 1914, there were about 300 gas lamps in town, presently there are almost 700. (Note: It is reported that around 1970 during an energy crisis, the Borough had to attain a waiver to keep the gas lamps. The cost to convert to electric was far too expensive.)

The first patch change from the diamond style took place in the late 1960's. Most departments in the area were integrating a unique highlight that would be associated to the town. The design change for Glen Ridge was first made by former Chief of Police Thomas P. Dugan, it depicts the gas lamp against a maroon background. The maroon color background is the High Schools official color, the Borough had no official color at the time.

In 1983, the police department became the Glen Ridge Department of Public Safety a transition to better manage the Fire/Ambulance and Police Departments. The idea came from a former Councilperson who saw the operation in Florida. The Public Safety Department concept was designed to completely cross train Fire/Ambulance and Police to allow for a Public Safety Officer to function in any of the disciplines. However, the Public Safety concept did not work in the Northeast.

The Borough had at the time a paid fire department and police department, so the patch incorporated the appropriate "Police Division" on the top rocker of the patch with a green tree behind the gas lamp, it represents the tree-lined streets throughout the town. In 1986 the "division" rocker was enlarged, the first design was actually flawed. In 1989, as the result of fiscal matters, the Borough dissolved the fire department (6 firefighters), we currently contract-out for fire services with a neighboring town, and it has been a very successful and beneficial relationship. Sometime around this period Green became the Borough color. The need for the "division rocker" no longer existed.

Therefore, in 1999 the background was changed to black, and the "division rocker" removed. The background color was changed because it would blend better with the color of our dark uniform shirts, and we have been that way since.

Written by Chief John R. Magnier, M.Ed.
Contributions by Chief Thomas P. Dugan (Ret.)