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History of the
Hasbrouck Heights
Police Department

In the early years, the area which was to become the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, consisted of largely undeveloped land and Dutch farms, and there was little need of Police Services. There were little more than a dozen homes in the area. Law enforcement problems consisted mostly of minor neighborhood and domestic disputes and quarrels. Vagrants and tramps were also causes for concern. 

In the years prior to 1894, if a resident needed police services he would have to go to the Justice of Peace in Hackensack who would assign the county constable to enforce the law and serve the court. As the area developed and population increased additional public services became necessary. The governing body saw the need and benefit of having a "Constable in Residence" within the Borough. 

Through the late 1800's a decision was made to use a system of Borough Marshals to enforce the law. In 1894, J.F.Long was appointed the first Borough Marshal and served until 1896. During this period Anthony Closterman served as County Constable. 

The second Borough Marshal, Harry W. Walling was appointed by the Mayor and Council in 1896 and served until 1900. 



A series of Borough Marshals served the needs of the Borough between 1900 and 1911.  

At that time, there was little patrolling to be done and no police headquarters. When public concern grew over police protection, the Mayor and Council created the Police Department; On May 17, 1909, Mayor William S. Lawrence adopted Ordinance #148 to establish, equip and outline the duties of and regulate the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department. The first Chief of Police appointed in the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights was Eugene Roeser, having served several years as a Borough Marshal. In 1910, a Police Headquarters was established in the Municipal Building and Edward Fitzgerald, also, a Borough Marshal, was appointed Patrolman. Since the town had not progressed to the point where night service was necessary, Chief Roeser and his subordinate only operated during the daytime. 

In 1913, the Borough Council, by Ordinance, increased the speed limit in the Borough from 8 to 15 miles per hour and appointed Percy Chamberlian as the first motorcycle patrolman. 

Chief Roeser met an untimely death in 1919 as a result of one of the first fatal auto accidents in Heights history. At this time, Patrolman Edward Fitzgerald was promoted to the rank of Chief of Police and Edward Beckman and Patrick McHugh were appointed Patrolmen. Chief Fitzgerald served until his retirement in 1929 when Melville Hook was appointed as Chief. 



By 1930 the Police Department was confronted with problems created by a tremendous increase in population and vehicular traffic. Due to these factors the three-man department, which had such humble beginnings, had evolved to consist of nine men; The Chief, two sergeants and six patrolmen. 

In the early 1930's, the Bergen County Police established a police radio system to establish quicker communications with patrol cars on the road, replacing the old system of call boxes, and invited the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights to join the system. It was not long before the citizens of Hasbrouck Heights had contributed enough money to purchase short wave radios for Headquarters and for the one police car in operation. 

In 1939, a patrolman was killed in a fatal accident while operating the Department motorcycle and motorcycles were banned for use by the Department. The following year a second patrol car was added. 

The Hasbrouck Heights Police Department got it's first experience dealing with "Order Maintenance" problems in 1941. This occurred during a strike at the Air Associated Company in which 3,000 strikers assembled at the Railroad Station at Franklin Avenue and Route 17 North. Shortly thereafter, new radios were installed in headquarters and in the two patrol cars. In March of 1942, department manpower rose to 11 men. Two Patrolman, were promoted to Sergeant. The Department consisted of the Chief the two Sergeants previously mentioned and eight Patrolmen. 



At the present time there are 30 members of the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department. The department has three civilian secretaries and 18 school crossing guards on a fixed salary. 

The Borough of Hasbrouck Heights Police Committee is headed by Mayor William Torre, The Police Commissioner Herbert Heeren and Deputy Commissioner Justin DiPisa. The department is headed by Chief Michael J. Colaneri, The Captains of Police are Stanley Melowic and Robert Carscadden.

The Hasbrouck Heights Police Department is presently organized into two Operational Sub- Divisions; Patrol and Investigation. The men and women in these divisions work in unison to discharge the responsibilities of the Department to protect and serve the welfare of the community.  ####


The following individuals have served in the position of Chief of Police with the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department:

Chief Eugene Roeser 1909 - 1919
Chief Edward Fitzgerald 1919 - 1929
Chief Melville Hook 1929 - 1950
Chief Harry P. Carty Sr. 1950 - 1968
Chief Howard Van Houten 1968 - 1974
Chief Howard R. Baker Jr. 1974 - 1993
Chief Bruce W. Werner 1993 - 1998
Chief Michael J. Colaneri 1998 to Present

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