Stafford Police Chief Named NJSACOP President

3 mins read

by Johnathan Jaffe

STAFFORD, NJ – July 5, 2022 – Thomas Dellane has dedicated his professional career to public service in his community, serving 35 years in his police department and now beginning his seventh year as police chief.

As of July 1, the Stafford resident has a much-broader, statewide role, as president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) for a one-year term.  His main objective: Continue to reduce the polarization between law enforcement and New Jersey communities while building bridges that enhance understanding, cooperation and communication.

“My personality has always been to get involved and try to improve things as much as I can,” said Dellane, who joined the NJSACOP Board in 2018.  “It has interested me immensely to play a role in crafting policies and procedures for law enforcement professionals.”

For example, in his leadership role with the NJSACOP, he was involved in a committee that is educating New Jersey about the emergency 988 line. On July 16, 988 will become the nationwide 3-digit dialing code for crisis and suicide prevention, replacing the1-800 number the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses.

Dellane, who is also an attorney, has testified before the state Legislature on behalf of the NJSACOP, as well as written to state lawmakers to highlight the association’s position and perspective on various proposed laws.

“Chief Dellane is an exemplary leader of this Association and is a mentor for many,” said NJSACOP Executive Director Mitch Sklar. “He is another great advocate for all police chiefs, as well as for the profession of policing. Chief Dellane continues to serve on so many boards, committees and task forces; they are just too numerous to list. He is always ready to step in when the need arises and to make an immediate impact.”

As president, Dellane said, he will focus on the proposed licensure of police officers; a bill is now before Gov. Phil Murphy. If the legislation is adopted, the Police Training Commission will need to establish rules, as well as policies and procedure. “There will be a lot of opportunities to provide input and the NJSACOP must be involved in that process,” he said.

Dellane is also focused on proposed legislation regulating marijuana use for police officers. Under current law, police officers are permitted to use recreational cannabis during off-work hours. The NJSACOP has been vocally opposed, calling for the state Legislature to close this loophole as part of efforts to maintain the public trust.

“When a bill that involves policing is discussed and debated in Trenton, our Association needs to be speaking up at committee hearings and making sure our voice is continually heard,” Dellane said. “We need to provide more testimony on a host of pressing issues, ensuring our concerns are considered when elected leaders are debating new policies.

Another issue of concern is the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), designed to ensure transparency in government by providing easy access to public information. Dellane is a strong supporter of OPRA when it is used correctly. But some private attorneys have been abusing the system, using the police staff to research vehicle accidents and providing information that could be potentially used to secure clients and settlements.

“There is rampant abuse of OPRA, in which commercial enterprises have the police department doing their work for them,” the chief said. “While I believe in the important transparency of OPRA, there continues to be commercial misuse. On a weekly basis, Stafford will receive OPRA requests from two separate companies, asking for accident reports that could be sold to attorneys.  Municipal workers should not be used as a research arm.”

Dellane, who earned a law degree from Rutgers-Camden in 2008, is also chairman of the policy board of the Middle Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network, part of a regional information sharing system.

Since 2015, the chief has served for the International Association of Chiefs of Police in a policy center advisory group, which vets all proposed policies.

Locally, Dellane has volunteered with the Fighting Children’s Cancer Foundation for 10 years, serving as co-chair of South Jersey fundraising events. He is also founder and president of the Stafford Township Police Foundation, a non-profit that supports and advances law enforcement personnel and their families.

Dellane is very involved with the On P.O.I.N.T. (Proactive Outreach In Needs and Treatment) program in Stafford, in which the department works closely with social workers to provide emergency mental health services for the public.

The program addresses the high volume of mental health, substance abuse and social service related calls and incidents that use a considerable volume of police and emergency resources. The program was launched in Stafford and has quickly grown to nine other municipalities.