RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Dozens of Ridgewood junior police cadets who've spent the week seeing law enforcement from the inside also witnessed history being made Friday as the village swore in its first female police chief.
"Today is not really about me. Today is your graduation day," new Chief Jacqueline Lutchke told the 65 cadets at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School.
"It means so much to me to see how much our junior police academy has grown in the short time we've had it," said Lutchke, "especially in the especially the number of young ladies that are starting to move forward.
“There are very few of us,” she said.
A village resident since she was only months old, Luthcke at first worked in patrol, community policing and property/evidence control -- while also doing detective work.
She was appointed in 2000 to the accreditation manager’s position and has since led the department through five re-accreditations, including honors as a flagship agency and for meritorious service.
Lutchke was promoted to sergeant in 2005 and lieutenant three years later. She kept busy, covering the night shift while overseeing the accreditation process and conducting various administrative functions.
After another three years, she was promoted to captain in charge of all patrol and administrative functions.
Now the chief, she thanked other female officers who attended Friday's swearing in, along with the mayor and council, the village manager, friends and family - and, most importantly, her husband, Wayne.
“Without the people here, and many who couldn’t be here today, I would not be the person I am today,” said Luthcke, 45, “and I would not be going into the position that I am today.”
Bergen County's only other female police chief is Cathy Madalone of Bergenfield, who took office last August.