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Randy Ciocco made his reputation in North Jersey as a detective who could crack the toughest of cases.
On Tuesday, the Washington Township Council appointed the 37-year veteran as its new police chief — only the fifth since the department was created in 1934.
New Washington Township Police Chief Randy Ciocco with Kim Montelaro’s mom outside parole hearing in Trenton last year ( CLIFFVIEW PILOT photo)
Ciocco served as acting chief after William Cicchetti, amid state aid cuts, took early retirement in May.
“It was important that the Township Administration made this decision sooner than later,” township Police Officer Chirstopher Kelley told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“The department needs a leader,” Kelley said, “and Chief Ciocco will fill that void.”
Ciocco was the last officer hired by the township’s very first police chief, William Beppler, on April 1, 1973, and eventually became known and respected not only in town but among other law enforcement agencies.
Ciocco has long been the face and voice of the department: He chaired the Pascack/Northern Valley Detective group, was secretary of the Bergen County J.V. Officers Association, and headed PBA Local 206 before becoming a long-time board member.
No job was too big or small for Ciocco, who became a detective in 1981, was promoted to detective sergeant in 1998, was named lieutenant in charge of operations in 2000 and rose to captain in 2009.
If that weren’t enough, he’s the department’s chief crime-prevention officer, certified in training, and is its head range officer.
Ciocco was a primary investigator of the 1976 rape and murder of Kim Montelaro at the hands of Christopher Righetti. The young woman attended Immaculate Heart Academy in Washington Township
Ciocco met members of the Montelaro family in Trenton to show his support during Righetti’s parole hearing. The murderer remains locked up.
The new chief told CLIFFVIEW PILOT he remembered the murder being solved as “the result of good detective work” that also benefitted from a bit of luck: To find the murder weapon, investigators didn’t even have to dredge the swimming hole where Righetti tossed Kim’s body.
“The water level was low,” Ciocco said, “and it was sticking out of the silt.”
Investigators took the shiny new blade to area stores. A Westwood merchant clearly remembered selling the hunting knife to a beefy teenager who sported an “animal” tattoo. It was Righetti, Ciocco said.
The primarily suburban, 3.5-square-mile township has roughly 10,000 residents and a force of fewer than two dozen officers. The municipality is bordered by Ridgewood, Ho-Ho-Kus, Paramus, Hillsdale and Westwood.
The department’s five chiefs:
William Beppler – 1934 to 1973
Chester Johnson – 1973 to 1977
Justin Georgetti – 1978 to 1998
William Cicchetti – 1999 to 2010
Randy Ciocco – 2010
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