If you’re a Fort Lee history buff, interested in police work or both, you’re in for a treat. All you have to do is show up at the Fort Lee Police Department.
Just inside the main entrance of the local police station is what can only be described as a small museum-like display of artifacts, pictures and other memorabilia depicting the history of the Fort Lee Police Department.
Retiring Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli put the display together, along with Det. Tom Porto, Det. Shawn Hunt, Lt. Tom Ottina and Sgt. Kenny Porrino.
“They all helped out in collecting all this stuff and putting it together,” said Det. Michele Morgenstern. “It was [the Chief’s] idea though. They found all this stuff and kind of put it on display.”
Among the items displayed in glass cases and on the wall on both sides as you enter the station at 1325 16th St. in Fort Lee are photographs that span the history of the department, including black and white images of police rosters from years past.
Other items of note are handwritten police blotters from the 1920s and 30s and dating back as far as 1918, historical mug shots, photos of the old police headquarters, crime and accident scene photos, weapons once carried by Fort Lee police officers and uniforms worn by them, old police radios and pictures of Fort Lee police sports teams like softball and boxing.
“The majority of the collection was donated by the Fort Lee Historical Society, but retired brothers from the police department actually sent some stuff in as well,” Morgenstern said. “Some of our members actually contributed items and pictures they had.”
The exhibit, “History of the Fort Lee Police,” is open to the public.
Ripoli, who has served as Fort Lee Police Chief since 2004, is set to retire at the end of the year. The Fort Lee Mayor and Council in October appointed Capt. Keith Bendul as the new Chief of the Fort Lee Police Department and Capt. Timothy Ford as the department’s new deputy chief.
Bendul and Ford are set to be sworn in at the governing body’s next regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 20, although they won’t officially assume their new duties until January.