ROSELLE PARK, NJ — New police Chief Daniel McCaffery was surrounded by friends and family as Mayor Joseph Signorello swore him in Feb. 21.
McCaffery’s late father, Thomas McCaffery, was a member of the Union County Two Hundred Club, which recognizes the achievements of uniformed police, firefighters and state troopers, and taught his son at an early age to respect those who serve the community.
“My mother, Mary, was beaming with pride at my swearing-in,” McCaffery said in a Feb 23 phone interview with LocalSource. “I spoke at my ceremony. I spoke about how it was bittersweet because my biggest supporter in the world, my father, and the most humble guy I’ve ever known was unable to be there. It was bittersweet is how I spoke about it. I had reached the pinnacle of where I could be and he wasn’t there to share it with me. He passed away. My father was a huge supporter of police.”
McCaffery officially took over as police chief March 1, succeeding Paul Morrison, who served as chief for about 11 years.
McCaffery, who has worked his way up the ranks in the department during the past 26 years, said he is ready to lead the borough’s 34 officers and five civilian dispatchers.
“There’s going to be situations that are going to be new and unique. What’s specific to policing is, I know it’s a cliche, but it’s never the same job every day,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot of the administrative duties the past seven years as the captain, so in that regard I’ve made myself ready. I’ve been the acting chief when my current chief is out of the area or if he’s out of commission for whatever reason. I’ve been in that position. You just try to be ready as you can be. There’s always going to be some new obstacle that comes up. You just deal with it the best you can.”
McCaffery graduated from Roselle Park High School in 1990, and was sworn in as a Roselle Park police officer Jan. 22, 1993. In 1997, then-patrolman McCaffery was assigned to the Union County Emergency Response Team, and then to the Union County SWAT Team. In 2000, he was assigned to the Community Oriented Policing unit, the Union County Narcotic Strike Force, the Auto Theft Task Force and the Safe Neighborhoods Task Force.
In July 2004, he was promoted to sergeant in the Patrol Division and five years later, to lieutenant; in 2012, he was named captain.
McCaffery said Morrison has been a great mentor. And Morrison remembers the first time he met McCaffery; he was told to go to McCaffery’s house to tell him he had been hired by the department.
“What struck me about him right off the bat was that he was so enthusiastic about learning more than what he really needed to know about the job as a young patrolman,” Morrison said. “It struck me that he was so eager to learn, and he kept that work ethic from the time he was hired in 1993.”
Morrison was given an emotional send-off. On his final day as chief, he walked out between two lines of officers, friends and family members who had come to the station to see him off. Bagpipes played as he fought back tears.
Morrison said during a Feb. 23 phone interview that this has been a time for him to reflect on his career and how life has come full-circle for the kid who grew up in the borough dreaming of being a police officer.
Like McCaffery, Morrison’s own parents have been in his thoughts.
“My biggest accomplishment is I know I made my parents proud,” Morrison said. “People have asked me that and I’ve had many accomplishments during my law enforcement career. People ask me that and I know my biggest accomplishment was making my parents proud.”