The town of Weehawken has no actual police chief. Instead, it has a civilian public safety director, and normally has a deputy police chief who is the uniformed commander of the department.
Now, all three of the candidates for the job will take supervisory positions in different capacities.
The highest ranking public safety official in town is civilian Jeff Welz, who is the public safety director. And last week, Fulcher was named deputy police director under Welz, and McLellan and McGorty were named regular deputy chiefs.
After placing first on the promotional test, McGorty was promoted Wednesday to the role of deputy chief in charge of the 54-member department's operations. McLellan will still be deputy chief and perform the management and administration duties of the job.
Fulcher will retire as provisional deputy chief within the next 60 days and move into his new full-time civilian position of deputy police director.
The reorganization of the upper echelon of the Police Department was announced Wednesday night at the regularly scheduled Township Council meeting, with McGorty taking the oath as the township's newest deputy police chief.
The township was able to make the alterations because the civilian position of deputy police director had never been filled since Robert Zucconi retired to become the township's councilman-at-large a year ago.
Public safety director pushed for it
"This is a move that makes the most amount of sense," Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said. "The public safety director [Jeff Welz] pushed to have the deputy position replaced because of all the administrative work that is needed now. We have the Lincoln Tunnel, two light rail stations, the largest ferry terminal in the state, and a subsidiary ferry terminal, all under our jurisdiction. For a small town, that's a tremendous amount of commuter and mass transit responsibility."
Turner said that he spoke with Fulcher and McLellan about retirement possibilities to open up a position for McGorty, who has been a member of the Police Department for the last 23 years.
Fulcher decided to take the retirement package.
"I have some mixed feelings because I'm leaving one part of the job, the hands-on, direct contact with the men," Fulcher said. "Now, I will go from operations to a different phase, to management and oversight. I'll be able to spend more time with training on a bigger scale."
Fulcher has been working as a deputy in the Office of Emergency Management, acquiring experience in that field. He also has been a member of the township's Volunteer First Aid Squad, so he has a background in emergency response as well.
McGorty and McLellan
McGorty, who was born and raised in Weehawken and is a graduate of the Weehawken High School Class of 1978, became a sergeant in 1989, a lieutenant in 1999, and was promoted to captain in 2001. He was the head of the Juvenile Bureau of the department for six years and initiated the DARE program in the township, serving as the DARE officer for eight years. McGorty will be the deputy chief in charge of operations and the chief that will deal with the rest of the department regularly.
"He's a career cop," Welz said of McGorty. "He has a great sense of what his fellow officers need. He communicates well with the rest of the department."
"I've been a street cop and I worked my way up the ranks," McGorty said. "In order to lead the men, you have to have a sense of what they're going through."
McLellan's role will remain the same, which entails handling records, scheduling, vacation requests, and overseeing the Internal Affairs Bureau.
"By putting this structure together, we're able to do all of this," Welz said. "The administrative burden on our department has increased 100 percent ever since 9/11. This gives us management coverage seven days a week and gives me assistance in other fields, like traffic and signaling and the OEM."
"I think it will work out better this way," McLellan said. "Tom will do a great job of operations and I'll handle the management side like I did. Jeff has the expertise and we work well together."
Turner said it was important to get the management team in place because the 54-member department will lose its headquarters sometime this summer when a massive renovation and communications upgrade will occur.
"We're modernizing the headquarters and there will be a closure of the current site," Turner said. "Since we're about to undertake a total overhaul of the department, it's good to have three qualified men to lead our police department."
Restructuring the department leaves only two captains, Michael Avaletta and Thomas Earl, and two lieutenants, so there was a need for administrative leadership.
Turner believes the reorganization will free up the department to take better security measures in upland Weehawken, atop the Palisades.