The Sussex County Association of Chiefs of Police (SCACOP) celebrated the organization’s 50th anniversary Thursday night, Dec. 8 with a spirited dinner in the main dining room at the Mohawk House.
Chiefs and ranking officers of the county’s 11 independent police departments, members of the Sussex County Sheriff’s and Prosecutor’s offices, and the New Jersey State Police plus family members, sponsors and other guests were treated to a bar-and-buffet evening of food and fellowship.
SCACOP was founded and chartered Jan. 1, 1973, and modeled after the broader New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
The county organization, whose membership comprises active and retired chiefs, brings personnel together for training, information-sharing and team-building to improve law enforcement practices.
The current SCACOP president, Vernon Township Chief Daniel Young, said members were thrilled to be celebrating the 50-year milestone.
The group’s focus this year has been officers’ health and resiliency.
“We hosted a guest speaker (in May): a retired police chief from a suburb of Chicago, who came and spoke with our police officers from across the county about handling the everyday stresses of police work and its impact on their personal lives and family,” he said.
Young welcomed his colleagues to the dinner with a brief speech and asked for a moment of silence for SCACOP founding member Eskil S. “Skip” Danielson, who died Oct. 3.
Danielson was appointed in 1971 to be the first chief of the newly incorporated Byram Township Police Department, an office he held until his retirement in 1993.
His son Eric, chief of the Andover Township Police Department and SCACOP’s treasurer, took a few moments to remember his father.
“My dad was not only a writer - everyone knows about all his letters to the editor - but a historian,” he said. “And he was working on putting together a complete history of this organization when he went into the hospital for the last time. I know he would have really loved to have been here tonight.”
Young said the elder Danielson’s incomplete draft is saved on his computer.
“Skip emailed me his latest work before he passed. As long as I have it, I’ll never finish the draft he left me. It’ll stay as is, as a tribute to him.”
In addition to a commitment to countywide training and community-focused policing, SCACOP supports a variety of local initiatives, including the C.L.E.A.R. program.
The group also holds events, such as an annual Bocce & Brew tournament, to fund training and equipment costs, such as the mobile FATS (Firearm Training Simulator) system purchased entirely through fundraising in 2019.
Along with Young and Danielson, the SCACOP board includes Sparta Chief Neil Spidaletto as vice president and Newton Chief Steve Van Nieuwland as secretary.