NEWARK - The Newark Police Department is facing some major changes over the next few months, and it begins with the retirement of the man who ran the department for the last three years.

Samuel DeMaio says he never imagined 28 years ago when his dream of becoming a Newark cop was realized that he would be given such a sendoff.

In May of 2011, DeMaio took over for outgoing director Garry McCarthy, shortly after the department laid off more than 160 cops, a loss made worse through retirements.

"We have to hire this year," DeMaio says. "We have over 187 people who are going to be eligible for retirement in 2014. If that happens without hiring, without a vigorous hiring process, it could be disasterous for the department."

DeMaio figures his successor will need to hire 250 to 300 cops.

Friday afternoon, DeMaio looked overwhelmed as hundreds of officers in dress uniforms gathered outside police headquarters to say goodbye to one of their own. "It's probably one of the saddest days that I'm going to have in my life," he said.

DeMaio says his decision to retire came after much deliberation. He has not announced what he will be doing after today.

Chief Sheila Coley is taking over as Newark's acting police director. Coley was the city's first female chief and is now the city's first female police director. 

The police force will soon be monitored by a federal watchdog, and in May, the city will elect a new mayor.

For an extended interview with DeMaio, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.