Confirming rumors that have been circulating for several months, Mayor Steven Fulop has announced Police Chief Philip Zacche will retire as of June 1, and his administration will conduct a national search for his successor, accepting applications from inside and outside the department.
Zacche will be paid $513,000 on his retirement.
Zacche took over as acting chief in July 2014 in the midst of a battle between Fulop and former Police Chief Robert Cowan over restructuring the police department. Fulop demoted Cowan, appointed Zacche to replace him, and carried out a departmental restructuring that included limiting some of the police chief’s power.
Zacche was formally sworn in as chief in October 2014. The administration has not announced who will be acting chief of police until a permanent successor to Zacche is sworn in.
His retirement comes in the middle of an election year, and his replacement could become a political issue.
Fulop praised Zacche, citing his 38-year career and his strong leadership qualities and decades of supervising experience in the department.
“We thank Chief Zacche for his 38 years of service to the people of Jersey City and the men and women of the police department,” said Mayor Fulop. “In partnership with Chief Zacche, we have been able to grow the department to its largest size in two decades, build the department to better reflect the community, add more officers to walking posts, and work to steadily reduce crime. While we know there is more work to do, Phil’s experience and leadership has steered us on a steady and upward path toward rebuilding the department and enhancing the important community relations that lead to a stronger and safer city.”
Zacche previously served as chief of the Investigations Bureau and served as commander of the North District for seven years until his promotion to deputy chief in 2012.
During his tenure as a supervisor in the department, Zacche has also overseen the Juvenile and Missing Persons Bureau, the Narcotics/Street Crimes Unit, the Robbery/Auto Theft Unit, and the Support Services Bureau. He also served as the patrol supervisor on the midnight tour.
“It has been an honor and pleasure to work with someone like Phil, who understands the many aspects that policing involves and who has the experience and skill to execute these important initiatives while recognizing the important role the community plays in the process,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. “We wish Phil the best during his retirement, and thank him for his decades of service to Jersey City and this department.”
Zacche was instrumental in restructuring the department commencing in 2014, which included reassignment of departments under deputy chiefs, as well as hiring non-police personnel to handle a number of non-patrol assignments like desk assignments.
The restructuring allowed more direct accountability on several levels of the police table of organization, and took away some of the direct interaction the police chief had, such as with the Department of Internal Affairs.
A larger and more diverse police force
Chief Zacche, who was born and raised in Jersey City, now lives in Marlboro Township with his wife and three children.
Zacche has overseen a significant upgrade in the department that started in July 2013, when Fulop committed to increasing the number of police force from an all time low to the current level of 922.
An additional class of 26 officers in the police academy is expected to graduate this summer. The administration has also committed to adding two more classes of recruits this year for a total of 50 new officers. The goal is for a department of over 950 officers.
“It has been an honor and pleasure to work with someone like Phil who understands the many aspects that policing involves and who has the experience and skill to execute these important initiatives while recognizing the important role the community plays in the process.” – Director James Shea
As chief, Zacche made intelligence-based policing a focus, adding to the department’s ability to target the most violent offenders and prevent serious crime before it occurs. Most recently, Zacche and Director Shea expanded the Street Crimes Unit through Operation Titan, leading to double digit drops in violent crimes during the past month and a half.
Under Zacche’s watch, the department saw the opening of a new police station in the West Side, and the first steps towards construction of a police headquarters unit in Marion Gardens Housing Complex. The department is also upgrading many of its systems and recently began an aggressive program for a new and effective anti-crime camera network in high crime parts of the city.
“It has been truly my honor to serve the people of Jersey City and to work with the men and women of the finest police department in the state and to have the privilege to serve as their chief,” said Chief Zacche. “I thank Mayor Fulop for this distinct opportunity and while I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and my newborn granddaughter, I will look back with a lifetime of memories and always be proud for what were able to accomplish together.”
National search to commence on June 1
Effective June 1, the administration will commence a national search for a new police chief. The applicant period will conclude Aug. 1, at which point the administration will interview the most qualified applicants.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.