The Municipality of Woodcliff / Woodcliff Lake, located in northern Bergen County, New Jersey, was incorporated as such in 1894. A part of the picturesque Pascack River Valley, Woodcliff Lake is characterized by gently rolling wooded hills with large tracts of apple orchards and other wooded regions.
Prior to 1954, law enforcement within the Borough of Woodcliff Lake was conducted under the Marshal system. Under this system marshals were granted general police powers, and were authorized to carry firearms. They patrolled the 3.5. square mile Borough infrequently, or when necessary.
The Marshal system prevailed until 1954, when the Woodcliff Lake governing body organized the Woodcliff Lake Police Department under New Jersey State law. At this time Chief Marshal Anthony Caivano was appointed to the position of Chief of Police. With the addition of two other full time sworn officers, Chief Caivano was responsible for all police related matters in the Borough.
Growth of the Woodcliff Lake Police Department was slow during this time, and officers worked their tour of duty alone, shared one hand gun and holster, and patrolled in one marked police vehicle. The police vehicle was equipped with a one way radio receiver that received transmissions from the Bergen County Police Department radio system, located in Hackensack, ten miles to the south. Officers, including Chief Caivano, were on call at their homes from 1:00 AM until 6:00 AM seven days a week.
During the rest of the time one officer would patrol the Borough alone. For the remainder of the 1950's growth of the police department was slow, with an average of one new police officer being added to the department ranks every four years.
During the 1950's, the Woodcliff Lake Police Department acquired one additional marked police vehicle, and relied substantially on the use of part time "Special" police officers to augment the duties of regular officers. During this time the police department was headquartered in a tiny room in the Woodcliff Lake Borough Hall, until continued growth forced expansion to two rooms in 1961. The rooms were small and cramped, and not suited for use as a police headquarters.
During the 1960's the Woodcliff Lake Police Department expanded more rapidly, and acquired additional personnel and additional marked police vehicles. These vehicles were equipped with modern two way radios and other equipment necessary to provide 24 hour police service to the community. In 1969 the police department was relocated to a permanent headquarters at 184 Pascack Road, which was equipped with a modern two-way radio station base. This new headquarters was separate from the Woodcliff Lake Borough Hall, had several rooms, and even provided police personnel with a locker room and divided office space.
The Woodcliff Lake Police Department continued to expand during the 1970's, and Chief Caivano established a full time detective bureau and juvenile bureau, as well as assigning personnel to a traffic bureau. In 1976 Chief Caivano retired from the department after a distinguished 35 year career. A civilian director was appointed to head the department for one year, until Captain Robert Schulz was appointed to the rank of Chief of Police. Chief Schulz retired in December 1979, after 25 years service to the police department.
On January 1, 1980, Lieutenant Ronald Holgerson became acting Chief of Police until being appointed to the position of Chief on July 1, 1980. Upon Chief Holgerson's death in 1984, Lieutenant Dennis L. Winters was appointed to the rank of Chief of Police.
In November 1988, a modern fully equipped facility was dedicated and designated as the new headquarters the Woodcliff Lake Police department. It had been constructed on the location of the old headquarters building, which had been razed the year before. The new headquarters building contained holding cells, modern computer equipment, and ample space for the needs of an expanding police department.
In June, 1995, Chief Winters retired from the police department after completing 25 years of service. Captain Richard Poliey was appointed acting Chief of Police. In December, 1995, Chief Poliey was sworn in as Chief of Police, the fifth since 1954. After Chief Poliey took office, changes started occurring. Two female officers were hired, and the the department was completely computerized.
In December, 2000, Chief Poliey retired after a distinguished 34 year career. Lieutenant Anthony Jannicelli was appointed Acting Chief in December, 2000, and Chief of Police in June, 2001. Chief Jannicelli implemented the Community Police Sector Assignments program, where each officer is assigned as sector of town to handle any non- emergency incidents which may arise.
The Woodcliff Lake Police Department is currently moving forward to meet the challenges and demands that the new century will bring. Preparing police officers to accomplish the diverse tasks they must deal with on a daily basis requires education, training, dedication, and responsibility. Each officer is thoroughly trained in all aspects of police work, and is required to keep his or her skills at peak performance. New concepts such as Community Policing and the DARE program are at the cutting edge of criminal justice policy, and are strongly advocated by all members of the police department. The Woodcliff Lake Police Department has, since 1954, conformed to needs of the people it serves by developing and changing in accordance with the demands of the times.