In the early years, the area which was to become the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, consisted largely undeveloped land and Dutch farms. At this time there was no need for Police services, due to there were no more than a dozen of homes in the area. Law enforcement problems consisted of minor neighborhood and domestic disputes and also quarrels. Vagrants and tramps were also problems of this era.
n the years prior to 1894, if a resident was in need of police services, they would have to go to the Justice of Peace in Hackensack, who would assign the county constable to enforce the law and serve the court. As the area developed and population increased, additional public services became necessary. The governing body saw the need and benefit of having a “Constable in Residence” within the Borough.
Through the late 1800′s, a decision was made to use a system of Borough Marshals to enforce the law. In 1894, J.F. Long was appointed the first Borough Marshal and served until 1896. at which time Harry W. Walling become the second Borough Marshal, appointed by the mayor. Marshal Walling served as Marshal from 1896 until 1900.
Between 1900 and 1911, the Borough had a series of Marshals performing their duties.
At that time, patrolling to be done and no police headquarters. The public became concerned over the police protection the Borough was providing. This was the birth of the HASBROUCK HEIGHTS POLICE DEPARTMENT. On May 17, 1909, Mayor William S. Lawrence adopted Ordinance #148 to establish, equip, and outline the duties of and regulate the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department. As having served numerous years as a Borough Marshal, Eugene Roeser was appointed Hasbrouck Heights first Chief of Police. It took one year, but in 1910 a Police Headquarters was established and Edward Fitzgerald, also a Borough Marshal, became Hasbrouck Heights first Patrolman. Although progress was being made, the HHPD only operated during the day.
In 1913, the Borough Council adopted a Ordinance that increased the speed limit in the Borough from 8 mph to 15mpd. This was also the year that Percy Chamberlian was appointed Hasbrouck Height’s first motorcycle patrolman.
In 1919, Chief Roeser met an untimely death in one of the first fatal accidents in Height’s history. Patrolman Fitzgerald was promoted to Chief of Police and Edward Beckman and Patrick McHugh were appointed as Patrolman. Chief Fitzgerald served this position until his retirement in 1929, at which time Melville Hook became the new Chief.
By 1930, the Police Department was confronted by the problems of increased population and vehicular traffic. At this time, the three man department, which had such humble beginnings, evolved to consist of a total of nine; the Chief, two Sergeants, and six Patrolman.
As the 1930′s progressed, the Bergen County Police established a police radio system to establish quicker communication between patrol cars. This replaced the system of call boxes, which made communication difficult. It was at this time that citizens of Hasbrouck Heights contributed enough money to purchase short wave radios for Headquarters and for the one police car in operation.
In 1939, Hasbrouck Heights Police suffered their first and only loss of an officer on active duty. Ptl. Gerald De La Mater was killed on February 27, 1939 in a motorcycle accident while transporting culture tubes from the Paterson Board of Health back to Hasbrouck Heights. The tubes were needed to test school children during an epidemic of scarlet fever. He was attempting to pass a car on McLean Boulevard when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed. He was able to jump off of the motorcycle but was struck by an oncoming truck. It was at this time that the Borough issued a ban on motorcycles being used for patrol duty.
In 1941, the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department experienced its first “Order Maintenance” problem. Three thousand strikers from the Air Associated Company assembled at the Railroad Station at the intersection of Rte 17 North and Franklin Ave. Shortly after this incident, Hasbrouck Heights purchased new radios for Headquarters and for the two active patrol vehicles. In March of 1942, the department grew to a size of eleven men and two Patrolman were promoted to the Sergeant position. The Department now consisted of the Chief, two Sergeants, and eight Patrolman.
At the present time, the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department consists of 28 active members. The department also consists of 2 civilian secretaries and 18 crossing guards on a fixed salary. The Police Department is headed by Chief Michael J. Colaneri.