7 promoted in police ranks

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Just four weeks after Commissioner John Montillo took over as public safety director, the Lyndhurst Police Department promoted seven cops, including the only woman in the nearly 50-member department.

Strikingly absent from last Thursday’s promotion ceremonies was Mayor Robert Giangeruso, a retired deputy police chief who had been a fixture as public safety boss since being elected to the Township Commission nine years ago.

But last month, Giangeruso was forced to accept a shift to Montillo’s old spot as public affairs chief after the township was reportedly on the brink of losing insurance coverage because several cops – including the chief – were suing the mayor for allegedly interfering with the operations of the Police Department.

Standing before a packed house in the Municipal Building assembly chambers, Montillo said: “This is a special day for me. I’m extremely proud to be your public safety commissioner.” After having met with “almost all” of the police officers “to hear them explain their functions and the efforts they make to protect Lyndhurst,” Montillo said he was confident that the township “is a safer place because of Chief [James] O’Connor and the members of the Lynhurst Police Department.”

And he drew cheers when he declared that he was “committed to being fair and impartial” in his oversight of the department. Addressing the newly made superiors, Montillo added: “I have all the faith in the world you are right people for the job.”

Later, Montillo released a statement to The Observer, saying, “The promotions were in compliance with the department’s official table of organization. They filled vacancies that existed due to retirements that have occurred within the past year as well as one officer currently on terminal leave.

“It’s a benefit to our entire department those we serve to recognize the talents and dedication of our officers,” his statement said. “It also makes good police-management sense to have a clear chain of command and accountability. These promotions help us achieve that goal.”

O’Connor extended thanks to Montillo “for taking an active role” in consulting with him on the promotions and said that the department would shortly disclose a “reconfiguration” of its table of organization. He declined to elaborate.

The new appointees are: Capt. Patrick Devlin, Lts. Robert Nicol, John Kerner and Michael Failace; and Sgts. Kevin Breslin, Donna Niland and Richard Pizzuti. Sergeant’s pay is $121,352 a year; lieutenants make $131,854; and captains earn $142,424.

Capt. Devlin, the current investigative division supervisor, was hired in December 1994, was made detective in August 2000, elevated to sergeant in June 2003 and to lieutenant in 2009. He is tactical commander of the Special Response Team and founder of the Junior Police Academy. He has a bachelor’s degree in police studies from John Jay College and a master’s in administrative science from FDU. He served six years with the Marine Corps and is an instructor with the West Point Command & Leadership Program.

Lt. Nicol was hired in March 1985 and promoted to sergeant in November 2002. He teaches expandable baton, prisoner and cell block management and coordinates criminal justice information systems.

Lt. Kerner was hired in June 1992, promoted to detective in June 2003 and sergeant in September 2009. He has served as property & evidence officer, Megan’s Law liaison officer and crisis negotiator. He is credited with a highly successful case clearance rate in investigations and is responsible for DNA collections. He attended Montclair State University.

Lt. Failace was hired in August 1999, made detective in September 2002 and sergeant in September 2009. An original member of the Special Response Team, he assists with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and Neighborhood Watch Program, is a Junior Police Academy instructor, a certified chemical munitions instructor, certified field training officer and Honor Guard member. He also works with the Bergen County Police Academy as a physical fitness instructor and motor vehicle stop & street survival instructor. While assigned to the detective bureau, he was credited with a high case closure rate. He’s heavily involved with the Special Olympics.

Sgt. Breslin was hired in December 1994. His resume includes: department Tactical Anti-Crime officer, certified EMT, instructor in CERT, CPR and First Aid, emergency vehicle operations and automatic license plate reader. He maintains all department mobile computer systems and defibrillators and is a computer trainer. Sgt. Niland was hired in January 1998. She has a degree in business administration from Ramapo College. She’s a drug recognition expert, child safety technician, Alco-test operator, DARE instructor, crisis negotiator, Project Lifesaver Electronic Search specialist and assists with Junior Police Academy.

Sgt. Pizzuti was hired in August 1999. He has a criminal justice degree from New Jersey City University and is a firearms instructor, field training officer, an SRT member/sniper, Honor Guard member and Junior Police Academy instructor. Since 2010, he has been assigned to the DEA Task Force where he’s been involved in numerous high-level narcotics investigations.

All those promoted are the recipients of numerous letters of commendation for exceptional police work.

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