Municipal Building


Early History
On April 3, 1930, the River Vale Township Committee passed an ordinance creating the River Vale Police Department. The ordinance called for the appointment of a Chief of Police and as many special officers as may be required for the enforcement of the law.

At the time, the annual salary for the Chief of Police was $1. The special officers were volunteers and were not salaried employees of the Township.  At the time, the population of River Vale, according to the U.S. Census, was 871.

Police Chief
Exactly 9 years later, on April 3, 1939, David N. Roberge was appointed the 1st permanent Chief of Police of the Township (salary unknown). The 1st official records of the police department began being recorded on that date. Chief Roberge was the only police officer and was assisted by special police officers. The police officers at this time were actually called "marshals."

Early Calls

The old police blotters contain the calls that the police department responded to. They included investigating motor vehicle accidents, burglaries, gambling houses, suspicious person, assaults, missing persons, dogs killing chickens (there were numerous farms in town), nude swimmers at the Old Dock swimming hole, etc. When "undesirable persons" were found in town, they were driven home - as far away as New York City!  In 1944, Nelson Roberge succeeded his father as Chief of Police.

Although the population has grown to over 10,500, the size of the police department remains at the manpower level established 25 years ago with 20 officers. In addition to the current police officers, there have been 35 other officers employed by the Township. 15 of these officers have retired from the department after 25-37 years of service. The remaining 21 officers either resigned, were dismissed, or transferred to other law enforcement agencies. As we enter the new millennium, the River Vale Police Department will continue its mission, "to provide the highest quality of service to its residents."

Historical Photos

Salaried Officers
A 1953 ordinance established the police department as it exists now, with full-time, salaried police officers.

Police Station

As the farms began to disappear and River Vale became more of a residential community, the population began to increase. The size of the police department increased along with the population. The department, which had been operating out of the municipal building, moved into the 1st police headquarters in 1954. The building, which was formerly a school, was located just north of the old Meskers property on River Vale Road, opposite Prospect Avenue.

By 1964, the department had grown to 13 full-time police officers.  The regular officers were assisted by the River Vale Police Reserves during times of emergencies.  The Police Reserves, which usually had a membership of 6-10 volunteers, was disbanded in the early 1980's when only one member remained. 

Police Chiefs
In July 1972, Thomas H. Simpson was sworn in as the 3rd Chief of Police, following the retirement of Chief Nelson Roberge. By January of 1974 the department had grown to 20 full-time police officers and the township population was approximately 9,000. 

On January 1, 2002, Chief Habermann retired from the department and was succeeded by the 6th Chief of Police, Aaron Back. 

On January 1, 2009, Chief Back retired from the department and was succeeded by the 7th Chief of Police, Michael J. McCann.