Passaic County gets its first female police chief

Posted: Updated:

Woodland Park now has a female police chief.

Eileen Tiernan is the borough’s first woman police chief – and also the first woman police chief in all of Passaic County.

Tiernan says that she first joined the police force 25 years ago to follow her grandfather who was one of the first transit police officers in the city.

She says that when she first started it took some people a while to get used to seeing a female police officer.

“I would go on a call to somebody's house and they would say ‘Oh, we called the police,’ and I'd say ‘That's why I'm here,’" Tiernan says.

Tiernan was already serving as acting police chief and says that she was getting ready to retire. But the Woodland Park mayor approached her and asked her to take on the job permanently.

“We’re like a family and I’d like to bring that more where everyone is watching out for one another,” she says.

The Woodland Park Police Department currently has 24 officers. Tiernan says that should would like to see that number increased to 30. She says that she wants to focus more on community policing.

"I think right now there's a little bit of a perception out there where law enforcement isn't looked at in the greatest light, which is unfortunate,” Tiernan says. “I think if you get out in the community more and people get to know you, you're just a person too."

She says that she would also like to see more women join the police force.

“You could change a lot of lives,” says Tiernan.

Tiernan will be police chief for the next three years.

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