There were hugs and kisses and handclaps at Tuesday’s police promotions in Morristown. But the happy ceremony was moored to a serious message, as Police Chief Pete Demnitz told town officials that his three newly minted lieutenants are the kind of leaders needed in an age of grim new threats.
Local police now must be prepared to deal with more than just traffic issues and the occasional bar fight, said the Chief, thanking the mayor and council for enabling him to hire more cops and promote Matt Edwards, Keith Cregan and Stuart Greer.
“If you’ve heard about what’s going on overseas, it’s disturbing, because there are allegedly Americans involved, that were trained in this country. And now we have to be concerned with malls, and what are called ‘soft targets,’” he said, referring to last weekend’s terror attack on a Kenyan shopping mall.
He also cited the December massacre of schoolchildren and teachers in Newtown, Conn., “which requires that we train for similar circumstances.
“I’ve worked with three administrations, and I now have an administration, a mayor and a business administrator, supported by this council, that understands that results do matter. And that, to attain those results, I need personnel, and I need equipment,” Chief Demnitz said.
One of his new hires, Patrol Officer Collin Birch, has more than a passing familiarity with terrorism, after serving four tours in Iraq as a soldier.
Matt Edwards, a 23-year veteran of the police force, has been busy dealing with one of the ripple effects of Newtown. Gun permit applications are up 300 percent in Morristown since that tragedy, and Lt. Edwards must process those requests, the Chief said. He also helps run the internal affairs operation, making sure that officers do their jobs properly, the Chief said.
Stuart Greer, who is pursuing a master’s degree in criminology and police management from Cambridge University in England, supervises the detective bureau. Keith Cregan works with the IRS on a special task force to bust tax cheats. His efforts have brought $500,000 in seized assets to the Morristown police department, the Chief said.
“These promotions are well deserved,” said Mayor Tim Dougherty.
In other business, the council introduced a $1 million spending appropriation for an environmental study needed to upgrade a runway at Morristown Municipal Airport.
And the council deadlocked on an appointment to the Morristown Parking Authority.
Councilman Stefan Armington proposed planning board member Dick Tighe to serve Michael Elms’ remaining year on the MPA; Michael relinquished that unpaid position after being appointed to a council vacancy.
Councilwoman Alison Deeb nominated Joe Torres, a Fourth Ward resident who serves on the Shade Tree Commission.
Four out of six votes were needed, but each nominee garnered only three votes. Dick Tighe’s nomination was opposed by Alison, Rebecca Feldman and Raline Smith-Reed; Joe Torres was opposed by Stefan, Toshiba Foster and Michelle Dupree Harris. The swing vote would have been Councilman Michael Elms; he was absent.
Photos by Berit Ollestad. Please click icon below for captions.