Wanaque is the name given to the valley located in northern New
Jersey by the Lenni Lenape Indians who inhabited it hundreds of years
ago. They had no written language, therefore the pronunciation,
spelling, and meaning have been questionable. Some other spellings
have included Wynokie, Wynocky, Wynoky, and Wynockie. Most
residents agree that the proper pronunciation is Wah'nah'key but
common pronunciation is Wah'nah'cue. Some historians believe the
name was taken from the Algonquin root meaning "rest and repose".
However, the most popular interpretation is "valley of sassafras".
The Wanaque Police Department:
The first police officer to patrol the streets of Wanaque(at this
time, a part of Pompton Township) was appointed on August 5,
1912 to serve on the weekends between 2:00pm to 2:00am at a
salary of $3.00 a day. He had to supply his own uniform and
The first ordinance to establish and regulate a police department
was passed on November 6, 1916. The department was to
consist of a chief, captain, lieutenant, and patrolmen. The chief
and captain were to serve without compensation and all other
officers were to receive $85.00 a month. the following year, the
police ordinance was amended to include the rank of sergeant.
In April of 1918, The Borough of Wanaque became its own
entity, no longer a part of Pompton Township.On May 8th, the
newly elected mayor and council passed the first ordiance to
establish a department of police for the Borough of Wanaque
which was to consist of a chief, sergeant, and four patrolmen.
The first police car was purchased on May 8, 1925 for the sum of
$644.50. Between 1930 and 1940, the department had two full
time officers and several part time officers. In 1940, the number
of full time officers rose to three and this same year, the first
police car radio was purchased. Prior to this purchase, calls were
taken by phone at the chief's home.
By the 1950's the police department had four full time officers
and the number increased to five by 1960. In 1962, a forty hour
work week was approved and two more officers were hired this
same year. By 1967 the department had grown to eight officers.
On August 1, 1967, the first detective bureau was created.
Seven more officers were appointed between 1969 and 1974. In
November of 1974, tragedy struck the borough. Municipal Court
Judge Joseph J. Crescente, was shot and killed while conducting
court on the second floor of the municipal building. Two
individuals were convicted for 2nd degree murder and three
others were convicted for conspiracy.
Between 1978 and 1998, seventeen officers were appointed to
the police force. In July of 1998, the department suffered a great
lose when Det/Lt Robert J. Jordan, K-9 handler, lost his battle
with cancer. He was a 27 year veteran of the force and was
assigned to the detective bureau from 1974 until his death in
Today, the department is staffed by thirty-three members - a
chief, a captain,Det/Sgt, detective, five sergeants, one K-9
handler, two SRO's,ten patrol officers, six special police
officers, three communications officers, a records clerk, and one
Members of the department active in the DARE program, coach
little league football and baseball teams, and host "Friday Fun
Nights" at the local grammar schools where children are treated
to fun and games at no charge. Members also participate in the
annual Torch Run and Polar Bear Pludge for the Special
The department's standard uniform consists of a french blue shirt
with navy blue trousers with french blue stripe and french blue
hat. Short sleeve shirts are worn during summer months
switching to long sleeve shirts with tie or navy blue turtle neck
during the winter. Dress uniform includes a french blue blouse
with black Sam Browne leather. The department also utilizes
navy blue BDU's for special duties.
Officers are issued the Glock 22 .40 calibre semi-automatic pistol
and qualifications take place four times a year at a local police
range. Benelli 12 guage semi-auto shotguns are carried in each
To contact the Wanaque Police Department -
Wanaque Police Department
579 Ringwood Avenue
Wanaque, NJ 07465
For the Court Clerk, call:
For Borough Hall, call: