Public Info

County Manager Appoints New Police Chief

Chris Debbie, 29-year veteran, to assume top cop spot

Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen swears in James Christopher Debbie as the new Union County Police Chief during a ceremony this afternoon in Westfield. Holding the Bible are Chief Debbie’s father James Debbie, his son Tyler and his girlfriend Dawn Packan. Debbie becomes the County’s 10th Police Chief in the Police Division’s history, and has served as the Officer in Charge since 2015.

Union County—County Manager Alfred J. Faella today announced he has appointed James Christopher Debbie, a 29-year veteran of the County Police Division, as its Police Chief.

Debbie becomes the County’s 10th Police Chief in the Police Division’s history, and has served as the Officer in Charge since 2015. He will be responsible for supervising a police force of 73 sworn officers and 25 civilians. His appointment is effective immediately.

“I would like to thank the Freeholder Board and County Manager for their support and confidence,” Debbie said. “In this era, the County faces a complex set of security concerns and the County Police have evolved to become a lead agency in providing public safety and homeland security services to the region. I look forward to working with our various partners in meeting these challenges, protecting the public and providing our services.”

Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen congratulated Debbie on his appointment.

“Chris has led a lengthy, distinguished career in our County Police Department, and is an excellent choice to lead this vital agency,” Bergen said.  “We wish him well on his appointment and look forward to working with him.”

Debbie succeeds Daniel Vaniska, who retired in 2015 after serving as the division’s Police Chief for 13 years.

Debbie joined the County Police Department in 1988, became a Detective in 1997, a Sergeant in 2003, Lieutenant in 2007 and Captain in 2013. Along the way, he supervised detectives, Special Investigations/Narcotics, criminal investigations, internal affairs, and other high profile functions of the departments. He was also assigned to the Essex-Union Auto Theft task Force, and supervised and conducted plainclothes street narcotics operations.

As Officer in Charge for the past two years, he was the Executive Officer of County Police, and responsible for the day to day operations, answering to Department Director Andrew Moran.

The County Police division falls under the Department of Public Safety, and provides a wide variety of services to the County as a whole and the region, including:

  • Cost-saving Dispatch Services for twelve EMS agencies, six fire departments and three law enforcement agencies;
  • The Union County Ballistic Unit, a state-of-the-art operation that comprehensively analyzes weapons evidence, including bullets, shell casings and firearms, and provides real-time actionable intelligence to investigators and agencies;
  • UC MARINE 1 and 2 which patrols County and regional waterways—including the Arthur Kill–to provide regional Homeland Security services;
  • Arson Squad—important investigatory service to Fire agencies;
  • Bomb Squad—-vital homeland security service, recently featured in the response to the terrorist/bomb incident in Elizabeth;
  • County Police—including all their functions—patrol, traffic, enforcement, etc.
  • Investigative Division;
  • Special Operations Unit—emergency response team.
  • Child Safety Seat operations.