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Record photo

Howard ‘Buddy’ Baker, 74;
longtime Heights police chief

By Merry Firschein, Staff Writer
The Record, Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Howard R. "Buddy" Baker Jr., a former Hasbrouck Heights police chief, died Tuesday. He was 74.

Born in Hackensack in 1929, Mr. Baker was a lifelong resident of Hasbrouck Heights and a 1948 graduate of Hasbrouck Heights High School.

Mr. Baker spent all of his adult life serving the borough. "He was very committed to the town," said Greg Condal, one of Mr. Baker’s sons-in-law. "It was his whole life."

Mr. Baker’s family has been in the borough since 1896, when his grandparents arrived from Bath, NY, Condal said.

Mr. Baker was a member of the borough’s Police Department for 42 years. He became a sworn officer in January 1951, when he was 21 years old. Mr. Baker was appointed chief of the department in September 1975, and served for 18 years, until his retirement in February 1993.

Mr. Baker’s son, Alan Baker, is an officer in the borough’s Police Department.

The elder Mr. Baker worked because he loved the borough, Condal said. "He never really looked for some special credit or recognition," Condal said. "He was always interested in doing the right thing."

Mr. Baker was a life gold member of Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 102 of Hasbrouck Heights. He was a member of the Bergen County Police Chiefs Association, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He was a life member of the Bergen County PBA Mutual Aid Society.

Mr. Baker established the first police darkroom in 1958, and in 1966 was the first borough officer to be certified to operate a Breathalyzer, Condal said. In March 1976, Mr. Baker established the 911 system in Hasbrouck Heights, and in 1989 he started the borough’s DARE program.

Mr. Baker was a member of the Bergen Police Pistol League.

Mr. Baker followed in his father’s footsteps as a borough firefighter. A 28-year member of the department, he was in Fire Company 2 and served as assistant chief of the department.

In one sense, it was easy for Mr. Baker to be both a police officer and firefighter, because he lived next door to the old Borough Hall, which housed both departments. He could jump out of bed and be there, and that’s what he did," Condal said.

Mr. Baker was a member of the Hasbrouck Heights Fireman’s Relief Association, a life member of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association, the Hasbrouck Heights Exempt Firemen Association, and the New Jersey Exempt Fireman’s Association. He was a life member of the Bergen-Passaic Exempt Fireman’s League, a life member of the New Jersey-New York Volunteer Fireman’s Association, and a life member of the South Bergen Fire Chiefs Aid Association and the New Jersey State Fire Chiefs’ Association.

He was a member of the Hasbrouck Heights emergency squad and the Hasbrouck Heights ambulance corps. Mr. Baker also served on the borough’s Planning Board and was a member of the Hasbrouck Heights Band Parents’ Association, Boy Scout Troop 68, the Cub Scouts, and Little League.

He had been a sergeant in the New Jersey National Guard, 50th Armored Division, enlisting in September 1947 and serving for nine years.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Bernice; six daughters; two son, and 18 grandchildren. Most of the Bakers live in Hasbrouck Heights.

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