By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Capt. Anthony Garreffi Jr. has been in this position before.
For seven months, he served as the acting chief of the Sea Isle City Police Department during the transition between former Chief Tom D’Intino’s retirement in 2017 and the appointment of Tom McQuillen as the new chief in 2018.
Following McQuillen’s newly announced retirement, Garreffi steps into the role again of heading the 24-member police department without having the official title of chief. For now, he is formally known as the “officer in charge” because he is the senior-most member of the department.
“I’m going to run it as if I were the chief, just without the official title,” Garreffi said in an interview Tuesday about heading the department.
He emphasized that he is ready to become the full-time chief and has made his intentions known to City Business Administrator George Savastano, the top official in Mayor Leonard Desiderio’s administration.
Savastano explained that a process will be set up later by the city to formally appoint a new police chief to replace McQuillen. When McQuillen was appointed as chief in March 2018, he was recommended by a selection committee that included Savastano, City Councilwoman Mary Tighe and former Ocean City Police Chief Bob Blevin.
The selection committee considered both McQuillen and Garreffi to become the new chief at that time. They were both captains and were the department’s highest-ranking officers.
Although Mayor Desiderio accepted the selection committee’s recommendation to appoint McQuillen, he also praised Garreffi and all but predicted that he would become chief in the future.
“Captain Garreffi is an excellent, excellent officer. He has a great future. He is young enough that someday he could be chief,” Desiderio said in 2018.
McQuillen worked his last day on Dec. 22, but there is the formality of keeping him on the books while he remains on “terminal leave” by using his leftover accrued time such as sick days, Savastano said. Savastano said he believes McQuillen’s terminal leave will expire this summer.
In the meantime, Garreffi will continue overseeing the day-to-day operations of the police department as the officer in charge.
“We’re ready to move forward, and I’m excited by the opportunity,” he said.
Garreffi, 49, started with the Sea Isle City Police Department as a seasonal officer in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, he was an officer with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Department. He returned to Sea Isle in 2001 to become a full-time officer. Over the years, he won promotion from patrolman to sergeant to lieutenant and then to captain in 2014.
He said he values the experience that he gained serving as a captain under D’Intino and then McQuillen.
“Being second-in-command for two different chiefs gave me quite a perspective on how to become a better chief,” he said.
For now, Garreffi isn’t planning to make any major changes in the department’s operations. He emphasized that he will depend on the officers from “top to bottom” to help him run the department.
“We’re going to refocus with purpose to see if we can make the work easier and more efficient,” he said.
Garreffi grew up in the Mays Landing section of Hamilton Township, Atlantic County. His father, Anthony Garreffi Sr., who is retired now, was a captain with the Hamilton Township Police Department.
“My goal was to work for him at some point,” he said of joining his father on Hamilton Township’s police department.
However, he changed his plans when he became a full-time officer in Sea Isle and “fell in love with the police department and the people,” he said.
Now, his goal has shifted. He has a friendly competition with his father to outrank him someday, he said.
At this point, they both achieved the rank of captain. Garreffi is hoping he can ultimately outrank his father by becoming Sea Isle’s police chief.
“I just want to do the best job I can. I’m ready for it,” he said.