Jeffrey Storms, the 's newest captain, was . But amid the political rancor, he received high praise from Mayor James Barberio and Police Chief Anthony DeZenzo, and after his swearing-in, he received a sustained round of applause from a standing-room-only crowd at Town Hall.
"Tonight, I am proud to promote Lt. Jeff Storms to the rank of captain," the mayor said, noting his nearly 24 years of service to the department. "Jeff was a terrific lieutenant and I am confident that he will be an excellent captain."
He said that as captain, Storms will be given the task to manage the town's Office of Emergency Management, which was made part of the Parsippany Police Department earlier this year.
Barberio said the promotion is an integral part of his initiative to bolster the township's emergency preparedness.
"As a mayor, I have no greater responsibility than to provide the public safety, and I will do everything in my power to ensure the safety of our residents," he said. "The unforgettable, horrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, [shone] a bright light on the importance of emergency management preparedness, or as they say in the military, readiness. One need only read the newspaper or turn on the television to learn of the tragic events requiring emergency response from local governments."
He cited the as one such event. Parsippany Police officers, honored by the mayor prior to the promotion ceremony, were instrumental in helping to bring the incident to a close.
"The shooting in Mountain Lakes, , and caused me to take an in-depth look at how we prepare for emergencies here in Parsippany," he said. "I reviewed our ordinances and I thought about my experiences as mayor, dealing with real situations in real time.
"There were things that I've learned as mayor that I could not possibly appreciate as a councilman."
He explained that given the diversity of emergency responders in the township and the need for the head of OEM to be able to deal with high ranking officials at the municipal, county, state and federal level, it was "vital to the health, safety and welfare of our community" to put emergency preparedness under the police department—and to have "the field general giving direction" be a high-ranking official "with the technical knowhow," "the skill set required to effectively handle emergency situations and the ability to make instantaneous life and death decisions."
Barberio said considering all this made him decide to make Police Chief Anthony DeZenzo the new OEM director. And in time, he said, he decided that it was also necessary to have a police captain tasked with overseeing the office's operations along with his other duties.
"That is why I am naming a fourth captain," he said, "to ensure that our town is prepared for whatever adversity we may face.
"Unlike some, I don't have the luxury of being a Monday morning quarterback," he said. "Unlike some, I won't play politics with public safety. The people of this great town elected me to lead, to make our government better. And that's what I'm going to do tonight by promoting Jeff Storms to the rank of captain."
The mayor said Storms was his "right-hand man" during Hurricane Irene, and that the then-lieutenant's performance during the unprecendented event when the two were "hip-deep in water" demonstrated his capabilities and his qualifications to manage emergency operations.
Chief DeZenzo said having Capt. Storms oversee the various branches of emergency responders will be a boost for the town's preparedness.
"The residents of Parsippany-Troy Hills will certainly benefit," said DeZenzo. "This will give us the opportunity to better serve the community. We will have the opportunity to have all the emergency services work together to improve our response."