Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Changing of the Guard in Franklin Lakes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Changing of the Guard in Franklin Lakes

Article excerpt

FRANKLIN LAKES -- A longtime borough police officer has been promoted to chief after a three-month process that had winnowed the finalists to three internal candidates.

Sgt. Carmine Dean Pezzuti will replace Joseph Seltenrich, a 38- year veteran of the department, who retires on Friday.

"There were so many good candidates," Mayor Frank Bivona said. "I think we would have been fortunate to have any of them as chief."

Seltenrich notified the borough May 9 of his plans to retire. The council narrowed the search to three candidates: Detective Lt. John Bakelaar, Sgt. Robert Lyon and Pezzuti. The council announced Pezzuti's appointment on July 15.

"It was a difficult decision but I am happy with the choice," Councilman Thomas Lambrix said.

The department has 21 sworn officers, including five sergeants and a lieutenant. Detective Sgt. Tony Pacelli also retires Friday, after 29 years on the force.

"We are transitioning from an older, experienced department to a younger department," said Pezzuti, who ran a squad of patrol officers as sergeant. "My immediate concerns are staffing and providing a command structure for the department."

Until Pezzuti recommends a patrolman to be promoted to sergeant, his squad's senior patrolman will take over, "which is just not proper," Pezzuti said. "He will assume the responsibility without the pay."

Seltenrich said the process for replacing Pacelli will begin soon after the sergeant position Pezzuti held is filled.

"Experience is at a premium at this time," Pezzuti said.

Seltenrich had a salary of $150,000 as chief, according to his chief agreement. He said he will retire with medical benefits, a 70 percent state pension and no unused terminal leave time. Borough Administrator Gregory Hart said Pezzuti's contract has yet to be finalized.

Pezzuti, 54, graduated from Farleigh Dickinson University with a degree in business management in 1981 and was hired as a patrolman in 1983, after a friend encouraged him to give police work a try.

"I guess they liked me, because they kept me for 31 years," Pezzuti said. "I spent my whole career on patrol."

Pezzuti, a father of five, was promoted to sergeant in 2000. …

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