EMERSON, N.J. -- Community policing and giving his officers the chance to shine are the foundations of new Emerson Police Chief Michael Mazzeo's approach to the job.
The son of a police chief -- from a family whose history of public service dates back nearly three-quarters of a century -- Mazzeo has seen the benefits of community policing throughout his career.
"All of the chiefs before me -- my father (Peter Mazzeo), Sheriff (Michael) Saudino and Donald Rossi -- although they were different, all had the common theme of working closely with the community," he told Daily Voice.
"It's been successful here and it's going to continue to be a primary focus," the 22-year veteran said.
Mazzeo feels secure having two fellow police veterans at his side.
As he was being promoted earlier this week from captain to chief, new Capt. Michael McDermott was sworn. That followed the promotion of new Lt. Mark Savino.
"I'm fortunate to have them both with me," Mazzeo said. "When you look at our careers, no one has committed more combined time to the department than the three of us.
"They're strong leaders who I can rely on. There are a lot of good things that we can do together."
The new chief's faith in teamwork extends through the department.
"We have a great group," he said. "They're going to be able to make names for themselves.
"Hopefully they understand that we will hold them accountable -- that we want to help them and show them what they're capable of, that they'll then be recognized for their hard work and dedication."
Both have been watchwords of Mazzeo, who comes from a long line of public servants -- and worked as a roofer before becoming a police officer.
"He’s honest and has the utmost integrity," said Rossi, his predecessor, who retired after 38 years with the department. "The character he emulates is what the Emerson Police Department stands for."
Mazzeo, in turn, called Rossi "a dynamic chief who did so much for our department. I'm proud to follow him."
The new boss is looking forward to adding three new officers to the force. He'd been involved in the process before, but this was the first time he ran it.
Mazzeo went old school -- splitting the testing between physical fitness and a written exam. He also assigned numbers instead of names, then chose the top candidates.
"I strongly believe in being honest, fair and forthright," he said, "to make sure that everyone knows what's expected, that everyone contributes -- and that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.
"If they take that same honesty and fairness out into the community, we'll have a strong department."