By Cheryl Conway
After almost 28 years serving on the Mendham Borough Police Department, Police Chief Pasquale Libertino of Bergenfield has announced his plans to retire.
He informed the mayor and council at the June 6 Mendham Borough Council meeting to give leaders enough notice to find a replacement and assist with the transition period. His last day will be Jan. 31, 2017.
Working close to three decades in the same profession is a long time, but at the age of 53, Libertino says there are other career opportunities he would like to explore.
“Everybody has a shelf life,” somebody recently told him. “After 28 years you say ‘wow, there’s more out there where my talents can be used.’”
His plan is to eventually move to Florida with his wife of one year, Monica, an IT networking specialist with UPS. “I always wanted to move to Florida when I retire,” he says, adding that his mother-in-law lives there.
Police chief for the past five years, Pasquale spent his entire law enforcement career in Mendham Borough starting out as a patrolman in 1988, a position he held for 12 years until being promoted to sergeant in 2004.
When the position for chief came about, Pasquale applied with two other sergeants and after oral testing, interviews and evaluations, he was selected to lead the police department of currently 11 officers.
“I thank God everyday I was given an opportunity to serve as chief of police,” says Pasquale. He knew early on that law enforcement was the profession he wanted to pursue.
“I grew up in Patterson; saw the real rough job police have there in their job to do,” he says. Besides having relatives in the field and also wanting to help people in the community, Pasquale was also “intrigued by the military. I kind of like the discipline.”
His greatest accomplishment was seeking and recently achieving state accreditation. “It took almost three years,” he says. “To me, that’s really big.”
To get accredited, Pasquale upgraded equipment, instituted “a lot of programs” and adapted to policies and guidelines.
The police department never achieved accreditation status until recently. The challenge now will be to maintain those standards as the department will be reevaluated every 36 months for reaccreditation.
“You can’t punch-stamp,” he says, “You have to follow procedures.”
Pasquale found out there were grants out there to fund the accreditation, which cost about $50,000, so he “went ahead and got a grant” from Joint Insurance.
The Roger’s Group, out of south Jersey, monitored the department as overseers and to provide guidance, he says.
Increasing community policing and more interaction with the residents has also been a priority for Pasquale, who replaced former chief John Taylor.
Whether a business owner or resident, Pasquale says “my door is always open. It’s always been an open door policy to say hello, ask a question or resolve an issue.”
The chief is also proud of the display cases he established in the department which “show how times have changed.” As a long-timer, he can appreciate the transition from equipment, firearms, uniforms, technology, portable radios, body-cams, that have been modified during the years.
The first case went up four years ago; the second one was added on May 15 just in time for the department’s 110th anniversary, he notes.
He is pleased and proud of the role he has played in helping to improve the department.
“When you find something and you leave it, leave it better than you found it,” he says. I believe that’s what I’m doing here.”
Besides some college classes he took in the 1980s, Pasquale graduated from a West Point Leadership class in 2011 and took several administrative courses which came in handy in his field.
“That leadership class helped me understand the system as police officers or military,” he says.
While his day of exiting out the door is still more than six months way, Pasquale says he “feels good” in announcing his retirement. He knows later, those emotions may change.
“I’m going to miss a lot of the people here,” Pasquale admits, pointing out the “great group of officers;” friendships with residents especially the seniors; and “some of the store owners, I will miss big time. Some I will not see anymore; it won’t be the same.”
He says, it’s a “great place to work; the mayor, council and administrator have been just phenomenal; very supportive of me and our department.”
Pasquale may consider working in executive security, where he can wear a suit and tie, serving as a security guard for an executive person he can drive around.
“At some point you want to move to a next career,” says Pasquale.