Nutley Police Department affirms that public safety is always a priority

NUTLEY, NJ — In 1972, author David Franke published a book called “Safe Places.” The book’s description reads: “First-hand research provides the basis for this selection of 110 ‘safe places’ to live in the U.S., including a variety of communities representing all regions and featuring information on real estate values, taxes, and medical and educational facilities.” One of those 110 places named in the book was the township of Nutley. Fifty years later, Nutley is still regarded as one of those safe places, according to a Feb. 11 press release from the Nutley Police Department.

“We pride ourselves on our commitment to keeping Nutley safe and sound,” Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco said. “I remember how excited and proud we all were when that book came out. It has been my and my predecessors’ goal to maintain that status.”

Nutley routinely lands in the upper half of the safest places to live in New Jersey lists, according to the release. 

“Each and every year, our crime statistics, especially when compared to surrounding communities, are outstanding,” Petracco adds. “Since 2013, crime in Nutley has been cut by 41 percent.”

The Nutley Police Department is made up of just 72 officers, serving the township of close to 30,000 residents. For recruits, extensive background checks and training are crucial. “We have been very successful in finding candidates who meet those standards; that has been a key to our success,” Petracco said.

Working with the community also plays a part. The department offers several community-based programs, including the Junior Police Academy, the Neighborhood Watch, Coffee with a Cop, senior fraud seminars, home security surveys, a domestic violence intervention team, a child car seat safety program, and a fingerprint program for teachers, government employees and coaches, among other programs. 

“We have a partnership with our community,” Petracco said. “They know they can approach our officers because we try to go that extra mile. People see and appreciate that.” 

Many of the crimes resolved in Nutley are due to the input or help from residents, whether they’re providing footage from their house cameras or observing something or calling the department when they see a suspicious car. “A lot of the success we have is with their help,” Petracco said. 

Staying progressive in an ever-evolving world can be a challenge for the department, but Nutley Police Chief Thomas Strumolo said that the support the department gets from the township’s commissioners is critical. 

“Commissioner Petracco and the other commissioners have been great,” Strumolo said. “They supply us with the funding to get the technology that we need in order to maintain the safety Nutley is known for. That’s the kind of stuff that makes Nutley different and why we’re so successful in keeping such a safe town.”

Petracco, a lifelong resident who has been commissioner of public safety for 14 years, is firm in his commitment to keeping his hometown safe. 

“Maintaining safety in Nutley is paramount because without safety everything else falls apart,” he said. “We live in a changed world, especially post-COVID. But there’s one constant that the residents of our town know will never change and that’s the dedication of the Nutley Police Department.”