In 1929, John Moeller was sworn in as a Special Police Officer in West Milford. At this time the Township’s year population was estimated at 2500 residents.
On February 1, 1934, Moeller was appointed as the first full time Police Officer in the Township. This was in response to the repeal of prohibition in November of 1933. Moeller would remain the only full time Police Officer for the next seven years. Moeller operated out of his own residence and responded to calls at all hours in his personal vehicle.
Moeller’s wife, Eva, served as the Township’s first Dispatcher. Her duties included answering the phone for police calls and watching over prisoners. The prisoners were lodged in the Moeller’s residence until they could be transported to the Pompton Lakes lockup or to the Passaic County Jail.
The Department’s first police car was a 1934 Chevy containing a one-way (receiving only) radio. The person answering the phone would contact the Bergen County Police who would then transmit the call over the radio. The call was transmitted three times hoping that the West Milford Officer would receive the message.
In 1942, John “Jack” Ryan was appointed as the second full-time Police Officer. At this time Moeller was promoted to the rank of Captain.
Police headquarters was moved from the Moeller’s residence to the old Town Hall, located across Union Valley Road from the current Town Hall. An employee of the tax office answered the police phone.
In 1948, police headquarters moved to the current brick Town Hall building located at 1480 Union Valley Road.
In 1949, with an estimated Township population of 5000, John Moeller replaced Somer Stites (special part-time Police Chief) and became West Milford’s first full-time Police Chief.
During the early years of the Department’s history, injured or sick persons were taken to a local doctor in a patrol car. In the case of a serious injury or illness, the officer transported the victim to Paterson General Hospital. At times this would leave the Township completely without police coverage.
In 1959, West Milford Police Department formed its Detective Bureau with John “Jack” Ryan serving as Detective.
Prior to 1959, Officers petitioned for their jobs by soliciting signatures from citizens.
Chief Moeller retired in 1971. At that time, there were 25 police Officers working under him.
John “Jack” Ryan was appointed as Chief of Police in 1971. Chief Ryan remained in his position until he died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1973.
On April 8, 1973, James E. Breslin was appointed to the rank of Chief of Police. Chief Breslin remained in his position until he retired in June of 2000.
After several moves within the current Town Hall building, the Police Department moved into the new addition at the south end of the building in 1977.
James R. Dykstra was appointed Chief of Police on June 1, 2000. Chief Dykstra remained in his position until he retired in June 2005.
On July 1, 2005, Paul R. Costello was appointed to the Rank of Chief of Police. Chief Costello remained in his position until he retired in July 2010.
In August 2010, Gene C. Chiosie was appointed to the position of Acting Chief of Police. He was promoted to Chief on October 13, 2011.
Currently the West Milford Police Department consists of an Acting Chief of Police, 1 Captain, 3 Lieutenants, 5 Sergeants, 4 Detectives, and 25 Patrol Officers, Supporting these Officers daily are 4 full-time Dispatchers, 2 Senior Police Records Clerks and the Chief’s Administrative Assistant.
As well as providing routine patrol, the Department has specialized units. The units are a Specialized Operations Unit, Firearms Instructors, Alcohol Beverage Control Unit and an Accident Investigation Unit.