Hudson County is one step nearer to having its first feminine police chief.
Union Metropolis police Capt. Nichelle Luster has been named performing chief of the division following the retirement of Chief Richard Molinari, who held the submit since 2013 and named Luster as his non permanent substitute.
A member of the Union Metropolis Police Division since 1994, Luster labored her approach up by means of the ranks, holding a number of positions earlier than changing into the primary feminine captain on the power in 2013.
Luster mentioned that if named chief completely, she hopes it is going to be the results of her “capability within the division and my service to the neighborhood of Union Metropolis, versus being based mostly on my gender,” she mentioned.
“I do, nevertheless, acknowledge that it might be a primary.”
Nationwide Affiliation of Girls Regulation Enforcement Executives Director Kym Craven mentioned ladies make up about 13 p.c of legislation enforcement officers.
“Girls have a task in legislation enforcement,” mentioned Craven, whose group has about 700 members. “Communities need their legislation enforcement to mirror their communities.”
Penny Harrington turned the primary lady to guide a police power in a significant U.S. metropolis in 1985 when she was named police chief in Portland, Oregon.
In North Jersey, Bergen County received its first feminine police chief in 2015 when Cathy Madalone took the submit atop Bergenfield’s division. Eileen Tiernan adopted swimsuit in Woodland Park in 2018 when she turned Passaic County’s first feminine chief.
“I believe all people has one thing they bring about to the desk and whether or not you’re a man or a lady, you could have strengths and weaknesses,” Madalone mentioned. “Clearly, a lady is a bit more delicate in some conditions, resembling home violence.
“They carry the testosterone degree down and there’s a calming issue,” she added, whereas additionally noting that male officers even have particular strengths.
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez made historical past in 2015 when she turned Hudson County’s prime legislation enforcement officer. In August, Jersey Metropolis promoted its first feminine officer to the rank of deputy chief.
Madalone, who was within the police academy with Luster, mentioned Union Metropolis “could not have a greater chief.”
Luster’s profession in public service started within the U.S. Military the place she served as a army police officer in Germany, the USA and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in the course of the Haitian refugee disaster of 1992. She then hung out volunteering with Union Metropolis Emergency Medical Companies earlier than changing into a police officer.
She spent 5 years on mortgage to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Workplace Murder Unit and most lately labored in Molinari’s workplace as an accreditation officer. The Union Metropolis Police Division met the Fee on Accreditation for Regulation Enforcement Businesses’ excessive requirements for accreditation for the primary time final yr below Molinari’s watch.
Molinari, whose final day was Friday, will formally retire in about two weeks. The 52-year-old Union Metropolis native mentioned he’s happy with the division’s accreditation.
“It is good for residents as a result of it tells you you could have a professionalized police division that has met the very best requirements of policing,” Molinari mentioned.
Molinari didn’t need to touch upon Luster’s potential elevation to everlasting chief, saying that was a call for Mayor Brian Stack.
Stack couldn’t be reached for remark.
Molinari mentioned neighborhood outreach was key throughout his tenure. The division averaged 150 outreach occasions per yr and officers are assigned all metropolis colleges. He mentioned it makes residents extra snug with reaching out to police.
The previous chief additionally mentioned there was troublesome two-year interval whereas he was prime cop throughout which 4 officers died. Lt. John Mark Zeitounian died in a automobile crash in Could 2017 whereas Officer John Kamel was killed in a bike crash two months later. Officer Ricardo Fernandez and Lt. Gregory Katseyeanis each died of sicknesses in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
“That was a tricky time for the police division,” Molinari mentioned, a 33-year veteran of the division. “It is a great company that actually got here collectively at a tough time. All of them had households and the police division got here collectively and bonded with households and it was really superb.”
Molinari mentioned he plans to spend extra time along with his family now, “however I will be again within the workforce as a result of it is in my nature. I’ll depart the door open and see the place the street goes.”