Cooke takes reins as chief of Englishtown Police Department

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ENGLISHTOWN – After nearly a decade, the Englishtown Police Department is once again being led by a police chief.

Peter Cooke was sworn in as police chief during a Borough Council meeting on Jan. 23.

Cooke, who has been a member of the police department since 2000, began his service to Englishtown as a Class II special law enforcement officer. He was promoted to full-time patrolman in January 2001, to sergeant in July 2007 and to lieutenant in July 2011.

Monmouth County Freeholder Susan Kiley attended the council meeting and presented Cooke with a certificate in his honor on behalf of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, the county’s governing body.

“The police departments of our country are very near and dear to me,” Kiley said. “My grandfather was a police officer, my husband was a deputy chief and I have a son who is on the force today. I want to thank all of you [police officers attending the meeting]  for everything you do all the time. It means a lot to me.”

Reading from the certificate, Kiley said, “During [Cooke’s] career, he has devoted himself to the safety and protection of the citizens of Englishtown. In appreciation and acknowledgement of the commitment he has shown to his community, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders joins with his fellow officers, family, friends and admirers in wishing him great success on his appointment as chief of police in the Englishtown Police Department.”

Cooke is the first police chief in Englishtown since John Niziolek retired in 2010. After Niziolek retired, municipal officials removed the position of police chief from the municipal codebook.

When the position of police chief was eliminated, Cooke, who was the highest ranking member of the department after Niziolek retired, was named officer-in-charge in 2011 and handled the duties of chief.

In April 2018, the Borough Council re-established the position of police chief. After the position was re-established, Cooke was sworn in as the acting chief.

Councilman Gregory Wojyn administered the oath of office to Cooke. The new chief’s wife, Councilwoman Lori Cooke, pinned on his chief’s badge.

Speaking to residents, police officers and others in attendance, the new police chief said, “I want to thank everybody for coming out. It’s been a long time running the department and performing all the duties of chief, but without the title.

“These last eight years, I’ve been working toward this, pushing for it, and I was very happy the council decided it was time to put the police chief’s position back in the department,” Cooke said.

“I think having a chief says a lot about your department. It gives it legitimacy, it gives it strength, it shows there is a clear leader in charge of the department and of the community it serves.

“I’m very proud to be the leader of this department, for this town I have adopted as my own,” he continued. “After I was hired here, I moved here. I grew up in a small town and I always wanted to be a police officer in a small town. It meant a lot to me to make a difference in the community I serve.

“My only regret tonight is that my parents aren’t here for this. My father was a chaplain of the police chiefs association for close to 35 or 40 years and it was always his dream that I would obtain the rank of chief also. My mother supported me for every promotion.

“I lost my parents in 2016 and 2017 and right up to the end, both of my parents were always asking ‘When are they going to make you chief?’ That I’m not able to share this moment with my parents is my one regret, but I know they are both looking down and smiling upon me right now,” Cooke said.