NORTH ARLINGTON –
A 10-year-old borough lad was the center of attention recently when he was selected “Chief for the Day” by the Bergen County Police Chiefs Association in cooperation with Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino.
Now in its third year, the program seeks to recognize youngsters with special needs from around the county and make them feel good about themselves in their home communities.
On June 6, with the help of input from the borough Board of Education and the child study team at Washington School, fifth-grader Miguel Vega, a special needs youngster, was ceremonially sworn in as North Arlington’s chief by Mayor Peter Massa at Borough Hall and met borough employees.
Then, Miguel was taken to the borough Police Department where he “took over,” sitting in the private office of Chief Louis Ghione, and, after being outfitted with his own special police uniform, with the chief’s guidance, delivered “orders of the day” to the rank and file and “signed off” on purchase orders and sorted through official police reports.
Miguel was also able to phone his dad, a truck driver on the road, and identified himself as “Chief Mike.”
During an “inspection” of the police motor pool, Miguel found out what it felt like to sit on a police motorcycle and inside a patrol car where he activated the lights and siren.
Next stop for Miguel was the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack where he was introduced to, and mingled with, some 35 of his peers from around the county who were also honored that day.
He was photographed with Chief Ghione on the courthouse steps and that picture was incorporated into a framed plaque that the borough presented him as a souvenir of his special day. As the culminating event for the day, Miguel and his mother Lilia were given a motorcycle police escort to the Empire Club in Little Ferry for a luncheon.
Johnston Communications, a North Arlington firm that does a lot of charitable work, paid for Miguel’s uniform and plaque and the meals for Miguel and his mom, according to Ghione.
“This is our third year participating in the program and each time it’s more rewarding for me because we’re focused on what’s important – the people in this community,” the chief said.
– Ron Leir