Police Department


Chief John Dowie has been in command of the police department since February 1998. The Department is currently up to 118 sworn members, including recruits currently in the Police Academy, and is poised to address the needs and concerns of the Citizens of Kearny well into the future.

Important Topics

Bicycle Patrol Unit

The Kearny Police Bicycle Patrol Unit is an extension of the Community Policing unit. The Officers ride mountain bikes specially equipped for police work. All of the Officers assigned to the C.O.P. Unit participate in the Bicycle Patrol Program.

The bicycle officers participate in all areas of police work. The use of bicycles allows the Officers to Patrol areas where Police Cars may not have access, such as parks, playgrounds, and congested roadways. The Officers are also afforded a silent approach to patrol. Thanks to the mobility of the Officers this unit has a noted impact on quality of life issues as well as proactive enforcement endeavors.

The bicycle officers seek to develop community relations and encourage interaction with the public with their highly visible presence on the main thoroughfares in town. This type of Police Patrol enables the Officers to communicate easier with the residents of the town

D.A.R.E. program

The D.A.R.E. program is a 17-week program aimed at 5 th grade children. The program teaches the children not only to say no to drugs, alcohol and violence, but arms them with techniques to accomplish this. Two officers teach the program for a consecutive 17 weeks. The program is concluded with a graduation ceremony, which is attended by the parents, local Town Officials, as well as members of the Police Department including the Chief of Police. The schools in town are divided into two groups with one half of the schools receiving the program starting in September and the second half receiving the program starting in January. The community Policing Unit also has a Bar-B-Q in late June for all the graduates from the school Year. The Bar-B-Q would not be possible without the support of local Businesses, Civic Groups, Clubs, and the PTA.

The Kearny Police Department also teaches the High School component of the D.A.R.E. Program. An Officer from The Community Policing Unit is assigned to Kearny High School as a School Resource Officer (SRO). As the SRO the officer teaches the High School D.A.R.E. program, as well as being available during School Hours for the students to speak with him regarding any problems they might be encountering. Having a SRO in the High School also allows for positive interaction between the youth of the town and the police officer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Kearny Police Department located ?
The Police Department is located at 237 Laurel Avenue, between Elm Street and Forest Street.

What phone number do I call to reach the Police Department ?
The Kearny Police Department, all the various divisions, and Officers can be reached by calling the main phone number. 201-998-1313  

How do I obtain copies of police reports ?
Police reports are usually available three (3) to five (5) business days after the report has been taken. Reports are available at the Record Bureau, inside the Main Police Building, Monday-Friday from 8am-4pm. The Records Division is closed on all Federal and State holidays. Please call (201) 998-1313 to be sure that your report is available prior to making your trip (have the report Case number available when you call). There is a cost for all reports according to the type of report and it's length. Ask the Records Division clerks when you call.

Does the Police Department offer fingerprinting services ?
The Kearny Police Department no longer provides fingerprint services for immigration & Naturalization. The following locations do provide finger print services :
946 Broad Street, Newark 973-596-1079 or 65 Walnut Street , Newark

For additional information contact the Immigration & Naturizational Service (INS) at 973-645-3242

I receive calls from solicitors requesting donations for various police related associations. Are these legitimate ? Should I donate to these solicitors ?
The Kearny Police Department does not solicit over the telephone. The Kearny Police Department never solicits for funding. The Kearny PBA Local # 21solicits funds on behalf of the Union. The PBA solicits funds through mailings which clearly state that the funds received will go to the Kearny PBA Local #21. Telemarketing firms make phone calls soliciting funds for various organizations. These solicitations do not benefit the Kearny Police Department or PBA Local 21 in any way. These tele-marketers try to impress upon the caller that funding will go to their local Police Department. While some of the Telemarketing solicitations are for legitimate Police related organizations, The Kearny PBA is in no way related to any of these solicitations. If you decide to contribute to any of these organizations, always ask for the name, address and telephone number so that you may call back after careful consideration. If you have any questions please direct them to the Police Department.


Town Ordinances drafted in 1889 founded the Kearny Police Department. The original department structure consisted of Chief William Tolen, two sergeants, and eight patrolmen, or Chancemen. A Patrolman had been permanently sworn as a member of the department, while a Chanceman was appointed for a specific time period. Until the 1920’s it was not uncommon for a department member to serve almost an internship as a chanceman for a period of 1-5 years before permanent appointment as a patrolman. Patrolmen worked three shifts…5am-1pm, 1pm-9pm, 9pm-5am with one man filling a 7-day shift from 4am-9am.

In 1920, Walter Oliver was promoted from Captain to Chief of Police replacing the retiring William Tolen. The department had grown to approximately 40 officers including 2 Captains, 4 Lieutenants, and 6 Sergeants. Kearny Police had become a genuine 24 hour a day, 7 days a week operation. In 1924, Chief Oliver retired and was replaced by Philip T. Bell. By the time of Bell’s death in 1939 and Oliver’s in 1940, the small 11 man department they had joined had grown to 85 men and included full time patrol of the industrial section of Town known as South Kearny.

John Helmsley became the next chief, retiring in 1953. The Department had a large Civilian Reserve Corps during World War II that kept a vigilant presence in South Kearny, protecting the shipyards located there against acts of sabotage and terrorism. Chiefs Carl Berg, James Hanna, and Fred Wandras each served as Chiefs in succession through the balance of the decade.

It was under the stewardship of Fred Wandras that the department grew into a 100-man force. During the turbulent 1960’s the department was guided by Wandras, J. Walter Davey, John Perry Jr. and Paul Mulligan as Chiefs of Police, in that order. Mulligan served through 1977 during which time the force grew to 125 men. Chief Chester Potter then replaced mulligan.

Chief Potter was Chief through the early 1980’s and was then succeeded by then Acting Chief Chester Bielski. Bill Comer was then appointed Chief and served until 1983 when Chester Bielski again became the Chief of Police. Under Chief Bielski the department was at its all time high of 138 sworn members. The department boasted a vice unit, warrant squad, fully staffed traffic unit, as well as large and active patrol and Detective divisions.

After a large number of retirements in 1994 the Town decided a re-structuring of the department was needed. Many positions were eliminated through attrition and the department emerged with 101 sworn members.

It was during the time from 1994-1998 that the department went through a series of short term Chiefs. John O’Neill, Thomas Wilgus Sr., and Thomas Sharples filled the office until current Chief John Dowie assumed command of the department in February 1998. The Department is currently up to 118 sworn members, including recruits currently in the Police Academy, and is poised to address the needs and concerns of the Citizens of Kearny well into the future.

The history was provided by Officer James Mackintosh, Badge #165.

Chief George King

201-998-1410 and 201-991-3429
Support Info & Address: 

237 Laurel Avenue
Kearny, NJ