KENILWORTH POLICE DEPARTMENT HISTORY
A rich part of the law tradition that is not well known is that John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, maintained a 60 acre country estate in Kenilworth, then known as the New Orange Project, until about 1795.
The first formation of what is known as the Borough of Kenilworth Police was formed around July 1907. Anthony Grippo was appointed as the Magistrate shortly after that time, and dealt vigorously with the problems that were met. Loiterers and deadbeats were persuaded to move on, while the Magistrate kept an eye out for young runaways. The first location of the Police Department headquarters was the former Kasbarian Hall, located at 526 Boulevard. In 1920, Mr. Tieman was appointed as the first sworn Police Officer, followed by Alfred Vardalis. In 1922, the first appointed police chief was Alfred Vardalis, whose brightest moment in his career was on February 26, 1921 with his capturing of the then famed Union County Bandits, who had been wanted for a three month crime spree. Chief Vardalis was cited for bravery by the state and the county.
One of the most heroic departmental incidents to occur within the department happened on January 1, 1940, when the tax collector stormed the Council Caucus Chambers, with the intent of assassinating the governing body. Police Officer Andrew Ruscansky risked his life by disarming the gunman. Just moments before Ruscansky disarmed him; the gunman had shot and killed the borough clerk.
A not so heroic moment in history happened April 27, 1925 when then Kenilworth Police Officer George Ridge, a 26 year old motorcycle officer, was on patrol in the confines of the Borough. Officer Ridge had a previous dispute with the victim, Bernie Warnander, and had observed Warnander driving. Officer Ridge shot five times at Warnander and the vehicle he was driving, striking and killing the victim. Officer Ridge was subsequently arrested and later indicted for Manslaughter. Officer Ridge was sent to New Jersey State prison.
Through the years, Kenilworth Police Department has been a tight knit group of individuals who have strived for the best of the Borough. The department has prided itself on professionalism, and continues to grow with the ever changing times. With this step of accreditation, it adds another chapter to the department history.