Fair Lawn Names Interim Police Chief
Capt. Glen Cauwels will serve as Fair Lawn's interim police chief once Chief Erik Rose steps down.
Capt. Glen Cauwels, a Fair Lawn native and Marine Corps veteran, will take over command of the Fair Lawn Police Department come April.
A 19-year Fair Lawn police veteran, Cauwels will replace Chief Erik Rose at the beginning of next month and carry an interim tag until Rose officially retires at the end of the year, borough manager Tom Metzler said.
Cauwels, who has been the administrative division commander since 2010, said he was very excited for the opportunity, but acknowledged that restoring the officers' trust in departmental leadership would be a huge task.
"It’s going to be a big job to do, but I’m willing to do it," Cauwels said Thursday. "I’m willing to try to get everybody to work together around here.”
Both Metzler and Michael O'Brien, the Fair Lawn Policemen's Benevolent Association president, said they had confidence in Cauwels to do the job.
O'Brien commended Cauwels for always maintaining an open door policy with the rank-and-file, something some officers have said Chief Rose failed to do.
Cauwels agreed that a lack of communication had hurt the department and said he believed re-opening those lines with officers would go a long way toward raising their morale.
"You've got to be able to listen to what your officers are saying because most of the time they’re right," he said. "Sometimes bad information, rumors, stuff like that go out into the rank-and-file and I think if you just tell them the facts, don’t hide anything back, no surprises, I think that’s what we need to do.”
Cauwels' connection with his officers was evident in the way he spoke of the patrol division, comparing it to a military's infantry and calling it the "backbone" of the department.
"Those are the front line people out there," Cauwels, who served as an infantry marine during the Gulf War, said. "They’re the people who when [residents] call are going to show up and they have to have that support, otherwise this department won’t function like it should.”
For at least the time being, Cauwels said he has no major shakeups planned for the department, although like Rose, he wants to expand the department's community policing and traffic divisions by hiring new officers.
"To have an effective police department, I believe the community has to buy into that," he said, lamenting the loss of the DARE and Citizens Police Academy to budget cuts in recent years. "If your community doesn't trust your police department you're going to fail. But if you can have some of these programs where they can see that we're out there, not only to do enforcement, but to teach and to help, I think that's a win."
Cauwels said he got into law enforcement after serving his country for four years because he's always been interested in helping people.
"After I got out of the Marine Corps, I did a couple jobs and I kind of missed the duty," he said. "So I decided to take some police tests and was lucky enough to get hired here, and here I am now.”
From the beginning, Cauwels said he'd always aspired to one day become chief.
“My whole career I’ve always been looking to strive higher," he said. "Now that I’m the chief, I want to be the best chief. But that’s how I am. I’m always looking one step above."