John Cook Sworn in as Springfield’s Chief of Police
First Chief since 2009 and a sign of stability for department with recent public troubles.
To the resounding applause of a packed room, Springfield’s Township Committee unanimously voted in favor of naming John Cook the Township’s first chief of police in two years.
Cook was sworn into office surrounded by his children, Vincent, Marissa, Cheyenna and Morgan. A large crowd of police officers, firefighters, former officials and high-ranking representatives from Union County were on hand to congratulate Cook. A long receiving line of well-wishers snaked through Town Hall after the ceremony, attesting to Cook’s popularity in the department and with other public safety agencies.
A 22-year veteran of Springfield’s police force, Cook has led the force as officer-in-charge of the department since the late 2010 retirement of Union County Police Captain Karl Riley, who was placed in charge of the department when the County Prosecutor’s office assumed responsibility for the police department.
Springfield Public Safety Director Richard Rosell recommended to the Township’s public safety sub-committee that Cook be appointed chief last week. Rosell said Cook’s “work ethic and command presence” made Cook the top choice in an extremely close selection process.
Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow was on hand for the swearing-in. Romankow’s office withdrew control of the Springfield police department at the end of 2010. He said he believed the department was being placed in able hands.
“One of the reasons we were able to leave as early as we did was John’s ability as a leader,” Romankow said.
After he was sworn in, Cook said creating stronger ties with the community would be his priority. With regards to the police department, he said he hoped to improve on recent gains in the force, but to keep on eye on its future.
“I hope to not only lead the department, but to also recognize future leaders,” Cook said.
In his remarks, Cook noted the advice and friendship of Tony Sidar, a member of Springfield’s Auxiliary Police force who died after a long battle with Leukemia this July.
“He and I talked for months about leadership,” Cook said. He added: “It’s a great loss that he couldn’t be here physically.”
The nuts and bolts of Cook’s job will not change much; as Officer-in-Charge, he essentially had the same duties as a Chief of police. Rosell said Cook’s salary would increase depending on a negotiation with the Township Committee.
Cook is the first chief for Springfield’s police department after the 2009 retirement of unpopular Chief William Chisholm. Springfield Police Captain Peter Davis, then the only Captain in the department, became Officer-in-Charge after Chisholm’s retirement. Davis, who attended Cook’s swearing-in, abruptly resigned from the OIC position months into the job following a disagreement with the Township Committee regarding whether he’d be promoted to chief.
After the ceremony, Cook said he was looking forward to his future as chief and expressed confidence in his own abilities.
“My challenge is a good challenge,” Cook said.