By KELLY MEHORTER For Union County HAWK
GARWOOD — Doug Stoffer, a member of the Garwood Police Department since 2000, was sworn in as chief during the March 9 meeting of the governing body. He succeeded James Wright, who retired from the force after 23 years of service, including six as chief.
“All of your concerns are also my concerns,” said Chief Stoffer, a Garwood resident, to a crowd of community members at Borough Hall. “I look forward and I’m excited, more than anything else, to serve you back.”
Since joining the force, Chief Stoffer has held every rank in the department. In 2013, he was promoted to detective bureau commander. Chief Stoffer also is a long-time member of the Union County Emergency Response Team and was selected to join the Union County SWAT team in 2002, where he has been involved in hundreds of SWAT activations for incidents involving hostage rescues, high-risk search and arrest warrants and dignitary protection services.
Notably, Chief Stoffer served as security for the George W. Bush Presidential Inauguration in 2005, and in 2016 and 2017, he was a part of the team responsible for transporting and guarding terrorist Ahmad Khan Rahimi.
Mayor Jen Blumenstock administered the oath of office to Chief Stoffer. Mayor Blumenstock said she was able to witness the chief in action a few months ago, when she was invited to watch him run school-shooter training drills at Lincoln School.
“It was an emotional moment for me, watching Chief Stoffer direct the officers through simulations in the very classroom that my two daughters sit in. But one of the emotions that I felt was lucky,” Mayor Blumenstock said. “I saw the way the chief’s background and training stood out. I saw the way he related to the officers and the way he taught them, and I just felt lucky that here in Garwood, whatever the moment calls for, I know Chief Stoffer has it in hand.”
In other business, Mayor Blumenstock issued a proclamation designating the week of March 12 to 18 as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week in Garwood and recognizing work that the New Jersey Metro chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has contributed towards its goal of creating a world free of multiple sclerosis.
The mayor commended residents Aaron and Laura Cohen, who have raised more than $1 million over the past two decades for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, an organization that helps fund research, advocacy and support for people with the disease.
“When I was diagnosed with MS 50 years ago, there was no treatment,” Mr. Cohen stated. “Now, there are more than a dozen [treatments] that may slow the progress of MS. We now know a lot about how MS works, but [there is] still no cure, nor [a] definitive agreement as to [its] cause. This was achieved with the help of funding from NMSS and their pioneering stipulation that all funding was contingent on [the] open sharing of results among research teams.”
In addition to the organization’s MS Navigators program, which connects people with MS with helpful resources and support, Mr. Cohen said that he and Laura are on hand to assist people of Garwood with MS. “We are available to help put them in touch with the right people at the National MS Society of New Jersey, share our experiences or just listen,” she said.
The next Garwood Borough Council meeting will take place on Thursday, March 23, at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public in person, but residents also are welcome to watch a live stream via YouTube or participate by joining the Zoom link available on the borough website.
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