Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Captain Mark Chiarolanza, who wouldn’t let the amputation of his lower right leg deter him from a dream of becoming a law enforcement Officer, retired Friday, January 31, after more than two decades of service with the Agency.
Detective Captain Chiarolanza’s final tour of duty was celebrated with a reception hosted by Morris County Sheriff’s Office PBA 151, followed by a celebratory walkout outside the Morris County Courthouse where fellow Officers lined up to wish him well as a bagpiper played and the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard held flags aloft.
Detective Captain Chiarolanza started his career as a civilian dispatcher for the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department in January of 1994. Offered employment with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office in 1996, he graduated that year from the 48th Basic Police Training Class at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy and through the years was promoted, ultimately to the rank of Detective Captain on September 3, 2019.
“Working as a law enforcement officer for the Morris County Sheriff’s Office has literally and truly, in every sense of the statement, meant that my dream had come true. I have an overwhelming sense of fulfillment, pride, thanks, and accomplishment in my service to the people of Morris County,” he said.
“I could not say enough to adequately describe the appreciation I have for those who have influenced and guided me along the way. It is because of them I have little hesitation in moving on to other new, exciting ventures. I feel a comfort and calmness because of the drive and competence of those who remain to carry on their paramount duties successfully for the good of all,” Detective Captain Chiarolanza said.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said that Detective Captain Chiarolanza’s tenacity in overcoming a physical challenge, attention to detail and drive to improve the quality of the Agency made him an exceptional commanding Officer.
“Detective Captain Chiarolanza has been part of the backbone of this Agency and will be deeply missed for his wisdom, leadership and calm demeanor under pressure,” Sheriff Gannon said.
At the reception, Sheriff Gannon said: “You’ve done so much for this agency, Mark. I’ve always been impressed with you but having the opportunity to work with you these last three years I think you’ve made me a better person and all of us better people.”
Detective Captain Chiarolanza had thought of becoming an aerospace engineer or attorney but realized he wanted a career in law enforcement after falling in love with stories told by his father, a former longtime special police officer in Madison.
After graduating from Parsippany Hills High School, he earned his Associate’s Degree in criminal justice from Erie Community College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in sociology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Shortly after his graduation in 1992, he sustained a severe injury in a motorcycle crash by the Jersey Shore that led to amputation of his right leg below the knee.
After a long recovery, he was steadfast about finding a law enforcement position and walked into a Civil Service exam on crutches, still awaiting completion and fitting of a prosthetic leg. He was a dispatcher for about 30 months before a job opportunity arose in the summer of 1996 with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office.
He adeptly passed all the Basic Police Training Class requirements, including the physical tests that included maneuvering an obstacle course and running a few miles a day.
Detective Captain Chiarolanza started in the Protective Services Division at the Sheriff’s Office, where he provided security and assistance in the Morris County Administration and Records Building and helped develop the Agency’s Certified EMT program.
In 1999, he was assigned to the Research and Planning Section, where he assisted with policy development, Agency reaccreditation, developed the Morris County municipal traffic safety and enforcement assistance endeavor, and trained the entire Office in a tactical communication method called Verbal Judo.
Detective Captain Chiarolanza was called on to assist with maintaining civil order at a World Bank meeting in Florham Park, at volatile demonstrations in Morristown by a white supremacist, and was part of a team that responded to lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, to assist with rescue efforts after the terrorist attacks.
In 2003, he was assigned to the Agency’s Process Section during which he served legal papers in parts of Morris County and served and enforced domestic violence restraining orders. He was a founding member of the Morris County Rapid Deployment Team and responded to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina Operation LEAD to assist with relief efforts in September and October of 2005.
In 2008, Detective Captain Chiarolanza was assigned to a Task Force that focused on organized crime, gang-related offenses and other investigations.
He was promoted to Sergeant in 2012 and assigned to the Family Section of the Protective Services Division. By 2013, he was tasked with managing the Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section, and in 2015, he was assigned as supervisor of the Process Section, responsible for overseeing effective service of legal process throughout the county.
By 2016, he was promoted to Detective Lieutenant, assigned as Division Commander of the Legal Services Division overseeing legal process, administration of issued arrest warrants, and all aspects of K-9 operations.
He again was promoted on September 3, 2019 to the position of Detective Captain, in charge of the Specialized Services Division that includes Legal Services, pre- and post-foreclosures units, Process and Warrant Sections, and the K-9 Section and Bomb Unit.
During his career, Detective Captain Chiarolanza also earned his Master of Arts degree in public administration from Kean University. He is a commissioner of the Madison Housing Authority and has won awards on the job for his contributions to reaccreditation, maintaining calm at protests, and other achievements.
Upon retirement, Detective Captain Chiarolanza will continue as an adjunct professor at County College of Morris and oversee operations of the Florham Park Memorial First Aid Squad.