New chief in town
Dowd takes over as top cop
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 18, 2012 | 4582 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NEW CHIEF – Robert Dowd was sworn in as the new chief of police by Mayor Nicholas Sacco with Commissioner of Public Safety Theresa Ferraro by his side.
NEW CHIEF – Robert Dowd was sworn in as the new chief of police by Mayor Nicholas Sacco with Commissioner of Public Safety Theresa Ferraro by his side.

North Bergen has a familiar face as the new chief of police. Robert Dowd, the former deputy chief, is now taking the place of William Galvin.

New rank

Mayor Nicholas Sacco swore in Dowd as the ninth chief of police on Friday, Nov. 2 at the Municipal Court Building, since Town Hall was without power at the time. Attendees included

Mayor Sacco, the Board of Commissioners, township officials, Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff, and police from surrounding towns such as Captain Joel Magenheimer of Guttenberg.

Former Chief William Galvin had announced his intent to retire in September.

Initially Dowd wanted to have a private ceremony or postpone it since the town was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Dowd and Sacco came to the conclusion that it was good for the morale of the Police Department to swear him in promptly, during the storm aftermath.

He thanked Mayor Sacco and Commissioner of Public Safety Theresa Ferraro for having confidence in him to be chief of police.

Officials have confidence in Dowd.

“Chief Dowd is an outstanding officer and represents the absolute best of North Bergen,” said Mayor Sacco. “He grew up in North Bergen and I have known him for many years – in fact, I was his principal at Horace Mann Elementary School. I have the utmost confidence in him and know that he is the ideal choice to lead our Police Department and help it continue to do an amazing job keeping us all safe. I look forward to continuing to work with him and congratulate him on this well-deserved promotion.”
“Chief Dowd is an outstanding officer and represents the absolute best of North Bergen.” – Mayor Nicholas Sacco
“I’ve seen [Dowd] in action and there’s no better qualified person to be chief,” said Captain Gerald Sanzari.

Dowd joined the North Bergen Police Department in 1994 and earned 10 departmental awards for exceptional police service. His former rank was deputy chief.

As a sergeant, he earned the Knights of Columbus Shield Award for apprehending an armed suspect in a hostage situation at the Bank of New York. As a lieutenant, FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged him for exceptional service in public interest by helping to identify and arrest a criminal who robbed 10 banks in New York as well as New Jersey.

As captain, he began an investigation with members of the Detective Bureau which resulted in the seizure of $700,000 from a suspected drug dealer.

“I’m very familiar with the inner workings of the office and the enormous responsibilities that come with this office,” said Dowd.

Dowd said that he hopes to make some police promotions at the beginning of the new year. To study the financial impact, he is working with Township Administrator Chris Pianese.

He also wants to focus on community policing and partnerships. By building partnerships with neighbors, he believes they will deter and detect crime as a means of crime prevention.

“With [the officers] we have we are going to cultivate that one on one relationship,” said Dowd.

Meet the chief

Dowd is a lifelong resident who attended Horace Mann and North Bergen High School. He said he understands the needs and problems that residents much like him face.

“I’m here to serve [residents] because at the end of the day they’re who I work for,” said Dowd. “I believe that most officers should live in the municipalities they serve because you have a vested interest.”

Dowd received a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from New Jersey City University, where he graduated summa cum laude and is currently completing a master’s of science in criminal justice.

“My family is very supportive and they understand that I’m very driven and focused on my career,” said Dowd.

He will have his master’s degree by spring.

He also has encouraged two police captains to go back to school. They are: Training Division Captain Peter Fasilis and Patrol Division Commander Gerald Sanzari.

“I want to thank Chief Dowd, because if it hadn’t been for him, I don’t think I would’ve done it,” said Sanzari.

“...every police officer should be encouraged to take higher education,” said Fasilis.

Dowd is also a volunteer basketball coach for North Bergen Recreation’s All-Star Girls Traveling team and serves as a commissioner for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He was recommended for that position by Sacco, who is also a state senator. He believes protecting the environment is a serious social issue.

“I try to stay as involved in my community as possible,” said Dowd.

He wants to make it clear that his first priority is the Police Department no matter how many additional activities he may have.

Vanessa Cruz can be reached at

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