Lt. John Schwartz wants the mission of the Kinnelon Police
Department to be the same Friday as it is today: to assist the residents of the
borough and keep them safe.
Schwartz, a 24-year veteran of the department, will take over as chief Friday.
“You can be on a call involving a child and then be on another call years later with the same person,” Schwartz said. “You develop long-term relationships with people. You become a part of Kinnelon.”
Schwartz joined the department as a patrolman. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and to lieutenant in 2005.
Throughout his time with the department, Schwartz has assisted Girl Scout troops, organize fundraisers and youth activities, and taught young people about the dangers of drug and alcohol and abuse.
“It’s not like a normal job where you clock out at a certain time. Nobody here works a straight 40-hour week,” Schwartz said. “You feel an obligation to involve yourself beyond the job with community groups.”
Schwartz said that the 16-member department is extremely busy considering its size. The offices run a junior police academy, patrol the borough as part of the motorcycle and bicycle units, and there are two full-time D.A.R.E. officers who work in the schools in addition to their regular patrol duties.
Schwartz spent nine years in the patrol unit and six as a detective. He did think he would ever become the chief of police when he first started working in Kinnelon.
“If you would have told me at 22 years old I would be chief of police one day I would have said you were crazy,” Schwartz said. “I loved being on patrol and I wanted to get better at it. When you love something you want to be good at it. But now I feel ready. I’ve been around a long time and I have a lot of friends who I went to the academy with who are supporting me and have my back.”
As lieutenant, Schwartz handled many administrative responsibilities of the 16-officer department and was second in command under Chief John Finkel.
“That’s going to be such a huge transition. For someone to pull themselves out of that roll, from getting into the cases, from meeting the people and being out there, you don’t do that anymore,” Schwartz said. “You are doing the budgets now, all the administrative tasks.”