Brick Police Chief James Riccio to retire after 36 years
BRICK — More than 36 years ago, James Riccio was sworn in as a township police officer. On Tuesday, Riccio, now department's chief, received a key to the city for a job well done.
The chief's family looked on at town hall as Mayor John Ducey honored Riccio, who is scheduled to retire Jan. 31. Capt. Dave Forrester of the police investigations unit will take over the position, Ducey said.
"Riccio has most ably led the Brick Township Police Department over the past seven years and has spearheaded several initiatives aimed at making our community safer," Ducey said in a proclamation that names Tuesday, Jan. 31, as Chief James Riccio Day.
Ducey said the police chief led the township's Blue HOPE program, which helps law enforcement work with drug abuse service providers in order to help struggling opioid users. Riccio also steered the creation of the township's Neighborhood Watch program and worked on new Brick school safety initiatives, the mayor said.
Before serving as chief, Riccio spent years on the police department's drug enforcement unit, in internal affairs and served on an anti-corruption FBI task force, Ducey said.
The chief is originally from Bayonne, where his grandfather served as a police officer and his father a battalion chief with the fire department, according to the mayor.
Riccio moved to Brick as a teenager and went on to become a volunteer firefighter. He later served a township fire commissioner and as a former chief of the Breton Woods Fire Company, Ducey said.
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The chief's said he's retiring to spend more time with his family: his wife Joy; their children Nicole, Joseph, Melissa and Amber; and seven grandchildren.
In a speech at town hall, Riccio said that policing had changed significantly since he started in the 1980s.
Over the past seven years, he steered the department through the COVID-19 pandemic that killed 408 Brick residents as of Wednesday and sickened thousands of others across the township, according to data from the Ocean County Health Department.
He also led the agency through a period of tension, when national attention was focused on police use-of-force policies, the murder of George Floyd while in police custody, and policing practices across the country.
Riccio also served as chief at a time where school shootings in the United States reached historic levels, and school security was among the highest priorities in Brick and neighboring communities.
"Over my many years spent in law enforcement, I witnessed many tragedies," Riccio told the crowd gathered at townhall on Tuesday. "I've seen people in their worst times and their best. As difficult as a career in law enforcement can be, it can also be very rewarding, when it is you or your partner who is able to help someone in need."
Riccio said becoming chief was the fulfillment of a "career-long dream."
On Tuesday, he thanked officers for their service, as well as elected officials and Brick residents who supported policing efforts.
As chief, Riccio is paid a salary of $251,787, according to Brick Business Administrator Joanne Bergin. He will also be paid $34,378.20 in unused vacation time and $5,901.19 in unused compensatory time, the business administrator said in an email.
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Amanda Oglesby is an Ocean County native who covers Brick, Barnegat and Lacey townships as well as the environment. She has worked for the Press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-557-5701.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Brick Police Chief James Riccio to retire after 36 years with Brick PD