At nine years of age, Michael Feeney is the youngest police chief the Village of Ridgewood has ever seen.
With family, Mayor Paul Aronsohn and police officials by his side, Feeney was sworn in Friday morning at the Sydney Stoldt Court Room. It's not a long tenure – his appointment as police chief ends by Saturday.
Feeney is one of 28 children who took on the role of police chief for their respective Bergen County towns in the county’s third annual "Police Chief for a Day" program.
The program is intended to give children suffering from chronic health problems a behind-the-scenes look at the enforcement world. Feeney has been battling Ewing Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, since the age of six.
“It gives the opportunity to come out and be with the police department, experience the police department, see it from the inside,” Teaneck’s Chief Robert Wilson said of the event. “It gives us a great uplifting opportunity to have something positive to do with the children.”
Feeney’s uniform came complete with handcuffs and Chief Ward’s personal badge, which Ward pinned onto Feeney’s belt for him.
As for the rest day, “it’s (Feeney’s) show,” Ward said.
“I think I’m going to give him the capital budget to present,” Ward joked.
Feeney told the audience that he had not yet planned out his day, but said he would probably re-arrange Chief Ward’s office and go around town to meet Ridgewood’s residents and tell them, “Hey, I’m a nine-year-old police chief!”
“That’s pretty awesome,” Feeney said.
After touring Ridgewood’s police department, patrolling the town and accompanying Ward to several meetings, Feeney was unknowingly escorted via police car, with a fleet that followed, to his elementary school, where he was greeted by his cheering classmates.
After spending the day around town, Feeney, and the rest of Friday’s honorary chiefs, met at the Bergen County Justice Department where they had the opportunity to meet the rest of the day’s participants, police officers from around the county and a New York Giant, Jim Cordle, before they posed for some pictures.
After the group’s stop at the Justice Center in Hackensack, they concluded their days as chief at East Rutherford’s "The Landmark" for lunch.
“I thank the sheriff for doing it,” Wilson said. “It’s really a great opportunity.”