Newark Appoints First Female Police Chief

Appointment of Sheilah Coley still must be confirmed by the council.

Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011  |  Updated 7:55 PM EDT
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Sheilah Coley would be the first female police chief in Newark's 175-year history.

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The city of Newark appointed its first female police chief on Wednesday.

The Newark City Council approved the re-establishment of the police chief position during its regular session, and Mayor Cory Booker named veteran officer Sheilah Coley to fill the job.

Coley's appointment still must be confirmed by the council.

The police chief post was eliminated three years ago under former Police Director Garry McCarthy.

The council also voted Wednesday to confirm acting Police Director Samuel DeMaio, who will be Coley's boss. DeMaio was appointed earlier this year to replace McCarthy, who resigned to become police director in Chicago.

Coley will step in at a difficult time for Newark police. More than 150 officers were laid off last year, and a recent surge in violent crime has nearly erased substantial gains made during McCarthy's first two years on the job.

"I am honored and excited by the challenge of becoming Newark's first female chief of police," Coley said in a statement. "I thank Mayor Booker, Police Director DeMaio and the Municipal Council for the trust and confidence they have placed in me. I promise my brothers and sisters in blue that I will give them the highest level of professional leadership and the citizens of Newark the best police force in the entire nation."

Coley joined the Newark Police Department in 1989 and worked as a patrol officer and narcotics detective before being assigned to the office of internal affairs. She was promoted to captain in 2004.

"It's been a long time since the administration has reached within our department for someone to lead such a great department and take it to a new level or a direction it needs to be headed," said Derrick Hatcher, head of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police. "It is my belief that Chief Coley is definitely a good choice and will lead well."

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