As of next week, Springfield no longer has a director of Public Safety.*
Richard Rosell, who has for the last two years overseen Springfield’s fire and police departments and the office of emergency management, is leaving the job. Rosell was the only one to hold the job and will not be replaced. Rosell told Patch that the end of his employment with Springfield was a expected, and that it was an inherent part of his agreement when he took the job.
Springfield's government passed an ordinance to create the position of Public Safety Director in November of 2009. The job was seen by many observers to be a move to impose oversight on then chief of police William Chisholm. After Chisholm's retirement in February, 2010, some thought the job was no longer necessary. Nonetheless, when Rosell took the job that July, he hit the ground running, implementing policies and programs aiming to create more efficiency in the departments.
He leaves the job with his colleagues’ warm wishes and praise. In a September employee recognition event, Springfield Administrator Anthony Cancro spoke of Rosell’s praised Rosell for creating more accountability and increased morale in the public safety departments, but for being master story teller and welcome presence in town hall.
“I want to thank Rich for making me laugh,” Cancro said in his remarks. “He would always tell me a story or two and when he left my office he left me laughing.”
Rosell served with the New Jersey State Police for 27 years before retiring as a captain. In addition to his work in law enforcement, he is a former Marine and a current member of the New Jersey Army National Guard. He also holds a Master's Degree in Homeland Defense & Security from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master's in Human Resources from Seton Hall University.
And, judging from published reports, Rosell is already gearing for a new role in a different municipality. In August, the Star-Ledger reported that officials in Dover, NJ were looking to tap him to head their public safety department.
The two years that Rosell oversaw the fire and police departments have brought dramatic changes to the two organizations. When he was hired, the Fire Department was still suffering the effects of a highly publicized nepotism scandal from the mid '00s and the police department, led for years by unpopular chief William Chisholm, the target of a number of lawsuits, was placed indefinitely under the control of the Union County's Prosecutor's office when a leadership vacuum was created after highest ranking officer Captain Peter Davis resigned from that position and announced his retirement in June of 2010e. Both organizations have stabilized with hires, leadership and command structures. In particular, Rosell identified the appointment of John Cook as police chief as a highlight of his tenure.
In addition to the support of his public safety colleagues, Rosell credited the community with making his time in Springfield smooth and productive.
“I was accepted by them from day one,” Rosell told Patch.
And there’s at least one immediate reason he’s going to miss Springfield. Rosell’s distinctive military-style haircut was maintained with biweekly visits to Kris’s Barbershop on Morris Ave. and leaving Springfield entails a minor crisis.
“I’ve got to find a new barber now,” he said.
Editor's note: The original version of this article stated that Rosell's last day would be today. His last day is on Friday. We regret the error.