ORADELL — For the first time in nearly two years, the borough’s police department will be led by a chief.
The Borough Council unanimously voted to promote Capt. William Wicker to the department’s highest post at Tuesday night's meeting of the governing body, filling a vacancy that existed since February 2015.
Mayor Dianne Didio swore in Wicker, who was flanked by his daughters, Gianna and Gabriella, and his brother, Detective Lt. Keith Wicker of the Englewood Cliffs Police Department, immediately after the 6-0 vote.
"I'm truly honored, and I assure you that you're going to get my absolute best," Wicker said, addressing a standing-room-only crowd that included many Oradell officers, police chiefs from several Bergen County municipalities, as well as county Sheriff Michael Saudino and county Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal.
Wicker, who was promoted to captain in December 2015, has led daily operations since April 2015 following Frank Florio's retirement two months earlier under controversial circumstances.
"I got to know Captain Wicker at a time where there were a lot of problems in our police department," Councilman Edward Pfleging said. "He took that leadership role with a calmness and a professionalism that I'll never forget."
Florio stepped down in the midst of an administrative hearing involving two officers and their handling of alleged substance abuse by a third Oradell cop, who resigned at the start of 2015.
Documents showed that the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office investigated Florio's handling of the incident that spurred the hearing but ultimately cleared the former chief of any criminal wrongdoing.
Following Florio's retirement and in light of the department's troubles, the borough examined the possibility of hiring a civilian police director to lead the force, but the council voted against it.
Wicker appeared ticketed for the chief position this past September when Didio sought to appoint him to the post, but the council voted, 3-2, to table the promotion to take more time for a decision.
"You have to just stay even-keel, concentrate on doing the job to the best of your ability," Wicker said of the wait.
During his career in Oradell, Wicker has received multiple accolades, including a life-saving award from the Pascack Valley Policemen's Benevolent Association after he saved a man who had passed out from carbon monoxide fumes in a parked vehicle on Dec. 24, 1998.
He also earned a unit citation from the county Prosecutor's Office after leading a successful investigation that resulted in the capture of two suspects who had robbed and beaten an elderly woman 2004.
Wicker, who joined the department in 1995, said rising to chief had been among his goals since his first day on the job in Oradell.
"My mindset when I was a young officer was if you don't want to be the chief of police, what do you want?" he said.
Matthew Birchenough , Staff Writer, NorthJersey.com