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DV Pilot police & fire

Retiring Bergen County Police chief proud of department’s ‘quiet professionalism,’ expertise

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

EXCLUSIVE: As he draws closer to retiring from the department he’s headed for the past 3½ years, Bergen County Police Department Chief Brian Higgins tonight looked back — and ahead.

Higgins, who’s officially retiring at the end of the month, addressed his staff today. Then he answered some questions for CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

CVP: If [Bergen County incumbent Executive] Kathlee Donovan won last month’s election, would you still be retiring?

Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins (r.) at court appearance for Lodi man accused of seriously injuring BCPD officer in DWI crash (FILE PHOTO: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)

HIGGINS: The election is not the only factor that I considered when making the decision to retire. As I wrote to the men and women of the Bergen County Police…I love this job, the Bergen County Police and all that includes — our dispatch and 9-1-1 services, our security services, our support services and the police services.

I love this job so much that I see myself staying until I turn 65, as did my father. But my father died after only 2½ years of his retirement.

I often think of my father, who I respect more than any other man, and then to my son who is only 5.

As many of you know, this job has no limit when it comes to time of day, holidays, birthdays, etc. It was a goal of mine to retire after 25 years and definitely by the time I turned 50. Next month will mark 27 years since I was given the oath-of-office with the Carlstadt Police Department and this month I turn 50.

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CVP: When did you decide for sure that this was what you’re going to do?

HIGGINS: I have been wrestling with this decision for the last year. The previous answer should provide insight into this answer.

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CVP: Where to now? Job lined up? Time on a beach somewhere?

HIGGINS: I have a security consulting firm that I will spend more time investing and perform contract work at a pace that is less hectic than my current schedule.

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CVP: What’s your fondest memory as chief?

HIGGINS: I have many fond memories. The relationships that we as an agency have built and I now enjoy with so many in the diverse communities within Bergen County. But the memory that means the most is when PO Danny Breslin went back home to his family.

Higgins accepts award from National Coalition of Latino Officers on behalf of the BCPD for reaching across borders to combat domestic violence (FILE PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

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CVP: What’s your biggest concern about the men, women and department you’ll leave behind?

HIGGINS: The members of the Bergen County Police possess what I have come to understand as a quiet professionalism — a high level of professionalism and skill set that does not seek attention or accolades.

They perform their duties professionally and without fanfare. They are all extremely focused on their jobs and the jobs they perform are very technical and need a high level of skill.

The Bomb Squad is among the best. The SWAT Team has 40 years of experience and serves as an example of how to operate with a very strict use of force policy. The K9 unit was formed as response to a need and is unmatched in performance and skill.

The ability to provide police service to a population that we serve on a regular basis, such as the homeless shelter and those with mental health and dependency issues at Bergen Regional Medical Center, the county schools that serve children with special needs and the employees and students at Bergen Community College took years to raise to this level. [W]e are always striving to improve on those skills.

The safety of the public is extremely important and critical but the way that occurs is not always politically expedient. That must be kept in mind.

Bergen County Police Department (CVP)

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CVP: What do you want those people to know?

HIGGINS: I am proud of them, the work they do, and how they do it. It has been a great team in which to be a member.

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CVP: What do you want the citizens of Bergen County to know?

HIGGINS: The culture of the Bergen County Police.. that culture of not seeking recognition or praise… of coming into a town providing very specialized services with a high level of professionalism should be recognized and treated with the greatest of respect and any changes should be considered with great caution.

These are great men and women who put their lives on the line every day, and they should be treated accordingly.

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