The Byram Township Police Department existed since the 1930’s as a part-time police force. On April 7, 1971 the Byram Township Police Department was established as a full time Department with four full time sworn personnel including Eskil S. Danielson who was appointed as the Department’s first full time Chief of Police. The newly formed Department then assumed all policing duties for the Township from the New Jersey State Police on April 15, 1971. The Department grew from four full time Officers to ten full time Officers by 1975. Currently the Department has fourteen sworn Officers from a high of fifteen sworn Officers in 2006.
The Department’s second Chief of Police, John M. Gutwerk, was promoted to Chief on December 1, 1993 when Chief Eskil S. Danielson retired after 22 years of service to Byram Township. Chief Gutwerk retired in April 2005 after 31 years of service to Byram Township. The Department’s third Chief of Police, Raymond F. Rafferty was promoted to Chief of Police on November 1, 2005 and retired in December 2015 after 25 years of service to Byram Township. The Department’s fourth Chief of Police, Peter J. Zabita, was promoted to Chief on February 5, 2016 and retired January 31, 2020 after 24 years of service to Byram Township. The Department’s current Chief of Police, Kenneth J. Burke, was promoted to Chief of Police on February 1, 2020.
In 1979 the Department established a crime scene investigation unit and the Department’s arson investigation unit was also established. Since that time at least two officers have been certified in fire investigations. Those units were followed by an accident reconstruction unit in 1987 which still responds and documents all serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents. The Department began a community policing unit in 1991 and also began teaching the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in the Byram Intermediate School that same year. In 2005 the Department was able to establish an ATV Unit with funding provided by the Hudson Farm Foundation. In 2008 the Department had two Officers trained in crisis/hostage negotiations creating a crisis negotiation unit. In 2010 the Department began participating in Operation Take Back collecting unwanted prescription and over the counter medications twice a year in the spring and fall. These medications are then turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for environmentally friendly destruction. In 2016 the Department installed a 24 hour unwanted prescription and over the counter medication collection box in police headquarters to provide year round drug disposal services to our residents. In 2013 the Department switched from teaching the D.A.R.E. program to the L.E.A.D. program (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) due to changes at the national level affecting the D.A.R.E. program’s lesson plans. In 2016 the department established a safe exchange location to provide our residents a safer place for buyers and sellers to complete sales made on Craigslist, ebay or through any other method. Several other Department’s in the County joined the growing national trend and designated safe exchange locations in their jurisdictions. In March of 2016 the Department also began its annual Cram the Cruiser food drive collecting food donations for food pantries within Sussex County which then expanded to include all law enforcement agencies throughout the County.
The following is a list of Officers who have honorably served and retired from the Byram Township Police Department:
Chief Eskil S. Danielson 1971 – 1993
Lieutenant Chester F. Olivo Jr. 1977 – 1994
Patrolman Henry M. Shubert 1971 – 1994
Patrolman Leon N. Clouse 1972 – 1994
Sergeant George E. Schultz Jr. 1975 – 2000
Sergeant James C. Godumski 1975 – 2000
Sergeant Joseph A. Lamonica 1975 – 2001
Beatrice F. Eriksen, Records Clerk 1973 – 2001
Patrolman Eric Lefkowitz 1981 – 2004
Chief John M. Gutwerk 1974 – 2005
Patrolman Phillip DeSmet 1994 – 2006
Detective John M. Hulse 1987 – 2011
Tina Stopa, Records Clerk 1986 – 2011
Sergeant Greg J. Gamski 1987 – 2012
Detective Joseph “Todd” Duffy 1988 – 2012
Chief Raymond F. Rafferty 1990 – 2015
Chief Peter J. Zabita 1996 – 2020
Patrolman John A. D’Onofrio 1994 - 2020