by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
ESSEX FELLS, NJ - After 30 years of service, Essex Fells Police Chief Vincent A. Kulik, Jr. said a fond farewell to his department and fellow law enforcement officers during a walk-out in his honor yesterday afternoon.
Escorted by the drone of a bagpipe, Kulik stepped out from the Roseland Avenue station into a double wall of saluting officers waiting to wish him well. On hand were many of the West Essex area police chiefs, along with Essex County officials.
"Thank you, everyone, for being here
Born in Jersey City, Kulik grew up in Livingston and graduated from Livingston High School in 1975. After graduating from Union County Technical Institute in 1977 he was employed as a technician for the RCA Service Company (which later became General Electric) where he was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1430 in New York City.
In January 1987, Kulik began his law enforcement career as a chanceman with the Livingston Police Department and in May of that same year graduated from the Essex County Police Academy. Essex Fells recruited the future chief as a patrolman in July 1988, and then promoted him to Sergeant in January 1998.
Kulik became Essex Fells Chief of Police on Oct. 6, 2009, leading a 12-person police force. During his time heading up the department, Kulik instituted a Motorcycle Unit, Narcotics Unit, and updated the rules and regulations to comply with NJSACOP accreditation. Kulik oversaw the remodeling of the Essex Fells police facility, added a Firearms Cleaning Unit, installed workstations for Department Supervisors, and enhanced security.
Kulik is currently completing his Masters in Administrative Science at Fairleigh Dickenson University, where he also completed his undergraduate studies. Over the years, the retiring chief attended numerous police courses offered by Caldwell University, Essex County College, The Institute of Police Technology and Management, New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Northwestern University, and Rutgers University.
Kulik's certifications include:
Kulik served in 2015 and 2016 as the President of the Association of Chiefs of Police of Essex County and is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. He's also been a longtime member of the Livingston Fire Department for 42 years. His other associations include the Livingston Benevolent Paternal Order of Elks Lodge 1855, The New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association (West Essex PBA Local 81), Essex County Emerald Society Chapter Number 1, and the Knights of Columbus #3533 of Livingston.
Vincent and his wife, Judy have been married for 34 years and are the proud parents of Lianne, 27, a teacher of history at Long Branch High School and Michael, 23, a New Jersey State Trooper.
Recently, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored Kulik with a Commendation in recognition of his 30 years of dedicated service.
At yesterday's walk-out, the officers applauded as Kulik made a point of symbolically handing over the department's flag to his soon to be predecessor, Lieutenant William Theilacker, who has been with the township since 1990.
"I'm happy to report that unlike the last time when I got made chief, this time everything is in order," Kulik chided. "So I can take this flag from our department and
"I'm not a great one for making a lot of words
As the bagpipe played again, the retiring chief made his way through the wall of his fellow officers while they wished him well.
"Thank you all for being here it's been a great run."
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - North Caldwell Police Chief Mark Deuer reported:
"After a several month long multi-jurisdictional Drug Investigation run by the North Caldwell Police and overseen by the Passaic County Prosecutors Office a search warrant was served on Woodland Park residence which culminated in the arrests of two individuals.
On Friday, May 6, with the assistance of The Passaic County SWAT Team/ K9 Unit a warrant was served on the home by the North Caldwell Police in conjunction with the Woodland Park Police at 1 Chestnut Grove, Woodland Park.
This multi-jurisdiction investigation which took several months to complete, resulted in one of the largest drug seizures in North Caldwell / Woodland Park Police history. Detectives worked around the clock, spending countless hours doing surveillance, following tips, and conducting interviews prior to serving the warrant.
The warrant / search produced:
- 1 kilo of cocaine
- large amounts of cutting agent
- almost 1 pound of marijuana
- 83 vials of anabolic steroids
- extensive drug paraphernalia
- packaging material
- over $16,000 in cash
- two motorcycles
- Glock hand gun owned by one of the suspects
Due to the amount of drugs seized the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was called in to assist with further investigation.
A father and son were arrested and charged with numerous drug offenses.
Brandon Ortiz, 22
- Maintaining and operating a facility used to manufacture CDS, 1st degree
- possession of CDS(cocaine), 1st degree - possession of CDS(Marijuana), 3rd degree
- possession of CDS with the intent to distribute(Cocaine), 1st degree
- possession of CDS with the intent to distribute(Marijuana),3rd degree
- possession of drug paraphernalia
- possession of hypodermic syringes
- disorderly persons offense
Wilson Ortiz, Jr, 53
-Maintaining and operating a facility used to manufacture CDS, 1st degree
- possession of CDS(Steroids) 3rd degree, - possession of CDS (Steroids) with the intent to distribute, 3rd degree
- possession of a stun gun, 3rd degree
- possession of hypodermic syringes
- disorderly persons offense
Both suspects are being held in the Passaic County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.
Chief Mark Deuer and Captain Bill Texas, who oversaw the investigation from the onset, commend all the officers from both towns that worked so hard to bring this case to closure. The man-hours involved in an investigation of this magnitude were above and beyond the normal course of duty for police departments of our size."
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - On Thursday, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced that countywide homicides are up approximately 31 percent. This week alone, 5 homicides were reported over a 24-hour period in Newark, and East Orange has a total of eight more homicides than it did at this time last year.
Eight-Month Homicide Comparison Increase Totals
Increases in Essex County Homicides January to August, by year
Recent Newark Homicides
The Newark Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force are investigating five reportedly unrelated homicides that occurred this week over a two-day period in Newark:
The investigations into all five incidents are active and ongoing.
Updated: 11:27pm Tuesday
Bloomfield Avenue was opened as of 11:25pm; Claremont Avenue between Valley Road and Noth Mountain Avenue remains closed.
VERONA, NJ - The Verona Police and Verona Fire Department arrived at the scene of Bloomfield Avenue and Sunset Avenue at about 5:35pm after a manhole cover apparently exploded. Bloomfield Avenue was closed for the rest of the evening from Pompton Avenue to Valley Road in Montclair.
PSEG arrived by about 6:15pm to take meter readings at every manhole in the area. Additionally, gas measurements were taken at area building locations.
On Sunday night, West Essex Now reported that PSEG was near that intersection at about 8:40pm, checking on a possible gas leak at a building at 25 Pompton Avenue. The area was investigated and then deemed safe.
A West Essex Now reader was on the scene as it occurred and described the pandemonium the drivers at the intersection experienced:
"We were just driving by Claremont Avenue on Bloomfield Ave
Darlene Rizio Sgarlato works in the area and recalled the loud explosion let off smoke right afterwards.
"You should have heard the noise!" commented Sgarlato.
John Paul Foley, of Roseland, was in the area at about 9:07pm.
"It smelled, something was still smoldering.
WEST ESSEX, NJ - Late Saturday night, the National Weather Service issued a Freezing Rain Advisory for northeast New Jersey warning of hazardous travel conditions through Sunday morning. The Advisory was expected to be in effect from 3am until 8am Sunday morning, but it was gradually extended until 1pm Sunday afternoon.
"Light freezing rain and drizzle will make
Reports began to come into West Essex Now by early morning saying the roads were extremely hazardous.
"Black ice everywhere from Bloomfield to West Caldwell.
By 8:30am, about 10 vehicles were already disabled along Mountain Avenue and there were numerous accidents occurring throughout the area. Area police and surrounding towns used their emergency alert systems within the next ten minutes to warn their residents to remain at home and they would continue to do so throughout the morning.
Over the next hour, Eagle Rock Avenue, Bloomfield Avenue, Passaic Avenue, Eisenhower Parkway and Route 280 were all closed completely or intermittently as accidents arose. Vehicles were reported to have collided into each other, hit poles, gone onto lawns and spun around onto oncoming traffic. There were countless injuries and multiple airbags deployed; in general, drivers were proving it was unsafe for any but emergency vehicles to be out on the road.
Pedestrians were equally affected; falls with injuries from icy stairs, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways were reported all over the area.
So many accidents happened in such a short period of time that First Responders resorted to the rare practice of "triaging" - which usually happens during extreme emergencies when large amounts of wounded or ill patients are assigned degrees of urgency. By 9am, Roseland and West Essex First Aid EMTs were responding to emergencies all over the area, while at the same time their emergency vehicles were attempting to circumvent the dangerous roads to transport patients to local hospitals and trauma centers in Newark. All available EMTs were asked to report for duty and mutual aid from Wayne was also requested.
This is only a sampling of accidents which occurred throughout the region:
Reports of abandoned cars left where they had crashed came in from all over. By 11:30am, there were so many accidents and disabled vehicles along Eagle Rock Avenue that residents were opening their homes to shelter people as they waited for assistance.
Local religious organizations including St. Peter's Church in Essex Fells, LifeSource Church in West Caldwell and Our Lady of the Lake in Verona canceled morning prayer services or afternoon gatherings.
The ice storm affected everyone in the Metropolitan Area. Governor Chris Christie announced that speed restrictions of 35-45mph were in effect on the NJ Turnpike by 9:15am. NJ Transit and DeCamp buses were all cancelled until the afternoon due to the icy road conditions. At 1:30pm, the mutual aid agreement between New York City and NJ was activated and those EMT teams, which were available, waited at the Hudson Tunnel to assist with the City's backlog of 911 calls.
At 1pm, the Freezing Rain Advisory was cancelled while NOAA then issued a Flood Warning which was in effect until 6pm Sunday afternoon. Briefly, thundershowers came into the area adding to the day's weather challenges.
All the roads in the area were open by 1:45pm. The roads remain wet and temperatures will continue below freezing tonight. At 5:50pm, there was an accident, with injuries, on Grandview Avenue, in North Caldwell.
Christina Prestianni, Caldwell Pupcake Grooming and Bakery Owner, Killed in Apparent Murder-Suicide Thursday
NUTLEY, NJ - Christina Prestianni, 37, was reportedly killed Thursday by Christopher Minichini, 38, with whom she was in a relationship. Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Nutley Police Chief Thomas Strumolo
announced that the pair were found at their Hillside Avenue, Nutley home, dead from gunshot wounds.
Prestianni was the owner of Pupcake Dog Grooming and Bakery on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell, which she opened in 2008.
The Prosecutor's Office stated that their initial investigation points to Minichini, a state corrections officer for the past seven years, having shot Prestianni, then shot himself.