Pacific Grove City Manager Ben Harvey had a pre-New Year’s resolution of sorts after former P.G. Police Chief Amy Christey announced last November she was retiring on Dec. 31. He set a challenging goal of replacing her within about a four-month time period.
He kept the resolution and met his challenge. On April 29, Harvey announced by email that the city is hiring Cathy Madalone, police chief of Bergenfield, New Jersey, to take over the department on June 10.
Madalone has served as the Bergenfield chief for the last four years of her 24-year career in law enforcement. She’s born and raised in New Jersey and leaving will be difficult, she acknowledged in a biography about herself provided by Harvey. She said she will be “sad to leave but is looking forward to a fantastic new opportunity to serve the residents of Pacific Grove.”
When Madalone started out as a police officer she made history as the first woman hired by the Bergenfield department. She rose through the ranks and made history again in 2015 as the first female police chief in Bergen County.
She didn’t start out in law enforcement, however. Her first career was as a funeral director. In a news interview she gave in 2015, she said she saw a co-worker filling out an application to be a police officer and decided to switch careers. She was happy with her choice.
“I've always been a person who likes to help people,” she told Patch.com. “I've loved it from day one. I love my job.”
One of her interests was working directly with young people through the Bergenfield Junior Police Academy.
Last September, Madalone’s name was floated in press reports as a possible Democratic candidate for Bergen County sheriff, after the former sheriff resigned when a recording emerged of him making racist remarks. The nonpartisan political blog InsiderNJ reported that party leaders considered her as a candidate but went with a different law enforcement veteran who was also chair of the local NAACP. He went on to win in a November election.
Former P.G. Chief Christey served the city for two years, bringing some consistency and growth to the police department after a previous decade of challenges. After 30 years in law enforcement, Christey said she was retiring to spend more time with family.
One of Harvey’s primary goals—aside from not letting the national search take too long—was to find a new leader who would continue in Christey’s footsteps as far as maintaining a similar level of professionalism to the department.
For now the department remains under the control of interim Chief Jackie Gomez-Whiteley, who took over Jan. 1, to ensure a smooth transition period, Harvey said.