Union City Police Capt. Nichelle Luster has been named acting chief of the department following the retirement of Chief Richard Molinari.
Molinari, who held the position since 2013, is scheduled to retire Dec. 1 and has named Luster as his temporary replacement, according to local media reports.
Capt. Luster worked her way up through the ranks as a member of the Union City Police Department since 1994, holding several positions before becoming the first female captain on the force in 2013.
If confirmed as chief of police she would become Hudson County’s female to hold that position.
If named chief permanently, Luster said she hopes it will be the result of her “ability in the department and my service to the community of Union City, as opposed to being based on my gender,” she said.
“I do, however, recognize that it would be a first.”
Luster served in the U.S. Army, as a military police officer in Germany, the United States, and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba during the Haitian refugee crisis of 1992. She then volunteered with Union City Emergency Medical Services before becoming a police officer.
She spent five years on loan to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit and most recently worked in Molinari’s office as an accreditation officer. The Union City Police Department met the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies’ high standards for accreditation for the first time last year under Molinari’s watch.
Chief Molinari has retired after 30 years with the department, receiving high marks from fellow local leaders in law enforcement, according to local reports.
On Twitter, Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante, North Bergen Police Chief Robert Dowd, and Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly all praised Molinari for his service
Prior to becoming a police officer in August 1988, Molinari served as a volunteer member of the Union City Ambulance Corps.