FINEST ON THE RISE — Four veteran Kearny police officers take oaths after promotion to higher ranks

With his mom holding the Bible and his family and Councilman Peter P. Santana (left) looking on, Sgt. Jack Grimm, a long-time Kearny police officer, is sworn-in to his new rank of sergeant by Mayor Alberto G. Santos. Grimm was one of four police officers promoted at last week’s council meeting. Photo by Melanie A. Ryan

Four of Kearny’s finest were promoted in a Town Hall Ceremony Feb. 21 — one from sergeant to lieutenant and three from patrol officer to sergeant. Mayor Alberto G. Santos swore each into his new office with Police Committee Chairman and Councilman Peter P. Santana, Chief George King and family members at their side.

Here’s a look at the four newly promoted.

Lt. Christopher Levchak

Lt. Levchak was born and raised in Kearny by his parents Stephen and Barbara Levchak.  As a child, he was an active member of the community, specifically with the Boy Scouts, where he obtained the rank of Eagle Scout with Troop 305, of St Stephen’s Church, in 2000.

Levchak is happily married to his wife Sofia for nearly 13 years and they have two children — Lucas and Annabelle.

Levchak comes from a family of first responders and health care professionals.  

His father is a retired police lieutenant from the Kearny Police Department and his mother is an active emergency room nurse.  

Levchak has a brother and a sister who are also nurses and a second brother who is currently a member of the Kearny Fire Department.

In 2007, Levchak began his law-enforcement career with the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department and graduated from the Jersey City Police Academy in June 2008. In March 2009, Levchak joined the Kearny Police Department and was assigned to the patrol division. In 2017, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.  

Sgt. Jack Grimm

Sgt. Grimm joined the Kearny Police Department in 2007 after attending Northeastern University in Boston and Hudson County Community College and Rutgers University Newark here in Jersey. Before he became a cop, he was a claims estimator for Prudential and High Point/Plymouth Rock Insurance.

Jack was born to parents Jack and Cathy Grimm. He has three sons — Jack Jr., Cameron and Patrick. 

When he first got on the job, Grimm worked overnights for about three years and was then released to the Community Oriented Policing Unit, first under the command of King, then Capt. Tim Wagner, Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta and now Sgt. Adriano Marques.

He’s run the LEAD program. For many years and was, for 2 ½ years, the school resource officer at Kearny High School. 

He has also directed the Junior Police Academy in the summer for many years.

In addition to his police work, Grimm has also been a volunteer coach for the Kearny Little League and was, for a time, president of one of the divisions. He was also the vice president of Kearny Street Hockey,  an assistant rowing coach in North Arlington and is now an assistant coach for the St. Peter’s Prep rowing team.

Sgt. Sean Kelly

Sgt. Kelly is from Bayonne. He joined the Kearny Police Department in March 2009 after spending time as an officer with the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office. 

Kelly is a graduate of Bayonne High School and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from New Jersey City University. 

Since 2009, he has been assigned to the department’s Patrol Division, during which he has served as a Traffic Control Unit Officer and Field Training Officer. Sean has received several awards for his service to the department, including being named the 2021 Policemen of the Year. 

Kelly and his wife, Jacqueline, have three children — Declan, Rhys and Scarlett.

Sgt. Michael Farinola

Sgt. Farinola has been married to his wife, Leah, for eight years. She is the chief administrator at a school for children and adults with autism.  

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Seton Hall University, then was hired by the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office in January 2000, having graduated from the Essex County Police Academy in June of that year.  

Later that same year, he was hired by the Town of Kearny as a police officer, where he was assigned to the Patrol Division through May 2005 and he served as a Field Training Officer. He was transferred to the Vice Unit and worked there for seven years before being assigned to the Juvenile Aid Bureau in 2012. He was then transferred to the General Detective Bureau in 2015, where is the ranking member.  

He recalls two investigations he says he was proud to have been involved in.

“One is the 2016 shooting incident at Wilson and Kearny avenues, where a female was shot standing on the corner,” he said. “The actor was identified, arrested in a matter of a day or two after executing a search warrant and ultimately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. The detective bureau, as a whole, worked tirelessly to bring that case to a successful conclusion and I was proud of our efforts.”

The other one involved a major drug bust.

“The second is a drug trafficking investigation involving an international organization that was trafficking large quantities of narcotics into the United States from South America,” Farinola said. “There were several arrests made and large quantities of narcotics seized.”

Having been on the job already in 2001, Farinola participated in the the recovery and relief efforts at Ground Zero in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and received a World Trade Center Bar for his uniform decor.

He has received several Unit Citation and Investigative Service Awards as well as two life-saving awards for a fire rescue at the Forest Junction Condominiums (with other members of the Vice Unit) and a CPR incident in East Newark (along with Sgt. Neil Nelson and Officer Rich Poplaski Jr.) Farinola says he’s “had an extremely rewarding career.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.