Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon presided over a swearing-in ceremony for Park Police officers who were merged into his agency as sheriff’s officers under actions taken in October by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners and the Morris County Park Commission.
The Morris County Park Police were absorbed by the Sheriff’s Office, effective Jan. 1, 2022, in a move that will keep the 24 park officers on staff and enable an increase in overall park patrols, while addressing insurance coverage issues that arose earlier in the year. The newly sworn officers will become part of a newly formed Patrol Division within the Sheriff’s Office, with Chief Warrant OfficerJack Ambrose serving as chief of the unit.
“This is a historic moment. Today, we join two outstanding law enforcement agencies to create a new, highly trained Patrol Division within my office that will enhance the protection of not only our unique, one-of-a-kind park system, but also all of our county facilities and the Morris County community in general. Under the tutelage of Jack Ambrose, a seasoned, law enforcement veteran who was sworn in as Chief of the new division today, the people of Morris County can expect nothing short of the finest service from this professional team of officers,” said Sheriff Gannon.
The special ceremony was held in the Dragonetti Auditorium at the Student Center at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph.
Morris County Commissioner Director Stephen H. Shaw and Commissioner John Krickus attended the event with a host of other county dignitaries. Among the attendees, in person and virtually, were Morris County Park Commission Chairman Stuart Lasser, Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll, CCM President Anthony J. Iacono and his administrative staff, Morris County Crimestoppers Chairman John Sette and Washington Township Chief of Police Jeffrey Almer, who is Chairman of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association.
“This ceremony culminates a necessary and prudent consolidation of law enforcement resources that will enhance the safety and enjoyment of our Morris County park system for more than four million people who visit it each year. With more than 20,000 acres of parkland and 39 facilities ranging from golf courses to historic sites, this is the largest county park system in New Jersey and an important community asset that we need to properly protect,” said Commissioner Director Shaw.
“The Park Commission is excited and looks forward to working on the continued protection of the county properties and the public. Sheriff Gannon has been most gracious and fully understands the needs of the Park Commission,” said Park Commission Chairman Lasser.
The decision to merge the state’s last remaining county Park Police department into the Sheriff’s Office was prompted by concerns over insurance coverage for the park officers. It brings the Park Police in line with insurance coverage afforded all other officers in law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey, particularly in terms of coverage should any legal actions arise in regards to an officer’s performance of his or her duties.
“The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office commends the merger of the former Morris County Park Police into the Morris County Sheriff’s Office. This action provides a beneficial unification of command, improves efficiency, enhances coverages of key County properties and increases the law enforcement protection of all our communities. The appointment of Jack Ambrose as Chief Warrant Officer adds a highly experienced and respected law enforcement professional to lead the Patrol function and the Morris County Prosecutors Office looks forward to working with the Sheriff and Jack in this new unification,” said Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll.
“I worked with Jack for over 25 years and I have never met such a loyal, natural leader. He is dedicated and motivated, and he will excel in leading this new Patrol Division within the Sheriff’s Office. I can think of no one better suited for this position,” said East Hanover Police Chief Christopher F. Cannizzo.
Ambrose joined the Sheriff’s Office in May 2020 after retiring in November 2019 as a Captain for the East Hanover Police Department following 33 years with the department. For 25 of those years he helped to train generations of police officers in Morris County and beyond as the lead Drill Instructor and a Physical Training Instructor at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy
The 20,000-plus acres of parkland and 39 facilities making up the park system also includes outdoor educational and recreational facilities, arboreta, conservation areas, more than 253 miles of trails and an ice skating arena. Park activities operate year-round, requiring police presence to ensure the safety of visitors and park employees alike.
At the ceremony, officers officially retired the flag and patch of the Morris County Park Police, and those items will be preserved with county historical artifacts.