Ed Chabak is the second retired Linden Police Officer hired to provide school security under the Special Law Enforcement Officer Class III program. His post is School No. 2, the district’s largest elementary school, where Chabak grew up.
By Gary Miller
After serving the Linden Police Department for 31 years, Ed Chabak has come home to School No. 2.
Chabak is the latest retired police officer hired as a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class III to provide security in Linden Public Schools. His post is School No. 2, the district’s largest elementary school, and the school Chabak attended as a boy in the 1960s and ’70s.
Shortly after beginning his new position in February, Chabak said he sees his role as twofold.
“First and foremost is the safety of the kids and staff. That is my No. 1, primary function,” he said. “But I want to give these little guys a positive image of a police officer and explain to them that we really are your friends. We’re there for you. If you have a problem, don’t be afraid to come to us. No matter what it is. If I can help you, I will.”
Chabak graduated from Linden High School in 1980 and joined the Linden Police Department in 1984. He worked most of his career as a patrol officer plus three years as a detective. He was promoted to sergeant in 2007 and retired in 2015.
He also spent several years working in community policing, where he focused on outreach and quality-of-life issues. He sees a lot of parallels between that kind of work and spending his days with students.
“In community policing, you have to be able to spend the time to talk to people,” Chabak said. “We have to be able to not only help them with their problems, but we have to portray the Police Department in a positive light. We’re not just here to write you a summons or to arrest you. Interacting with the kids is a good thing. I always liked that, and I always like to try to be positive.”
The SLEO Class III program came from a shared-services agreement between the Board of Education and the City Council. The officers work exclusively in the school during school hours or functions, but are hired by the Police Department and report to Chief David Hart.
“Ed has served our community with distinction for over 30 years, as a police officer and supervisor as well as a deputy coordinator in our Office of Emergency Management,” Hart said. “Ed has the experience and expertise to effectively deal with any crisis, and we are very proud to have him working with us again.”
Chabak’s role is unique. He is the only SLEO stationed in an elementary school. Officer Keith Aslin is stationed at the Linden High School Academy of Science and Technology, and he works closely with Linden High School Resource Officer Detective Leon Paster, who is part of the LPD’s Juvenile Aid Bureau.
“We’re privileged to have someone like Officer Chabak working closely with our students and staff at School No. 2,” said Superintendent of Schools Danny A. Robertozzi. “He has the experience to handle any situation that arises, and the personality to treat our children as one of his own.”
Chabak is a volunteer firefighter in Bridgewater Township and a part-time firefighter in South Brunswick. He is married with four children of his own, ages 17 to 29, and sees working with elementary school students as a great opportunity.
“This is the age where you can really capture them and make a positive impact,” he said. “Hopefully you can point them in the right direction and set them up for life.
“It will be a little different than community policing because they won’t see me riding around in a police car after hours. But hopefully just my presence will let them know, hey, if you see a police car, wave to the officer. Stop and say hello.”
In his short time working at School No. 2, Chabak has nothing but praise for students, staff, and Principal Atiya Perkins.
“The kids have been great!” he said. “Kids come up and they want to hug you, and everybody wants a fist bump. I had one little guy come up to me and ask me if I would please be his friend. It’s a lot of fun.
“And the office staff has been excellent – the whole staff, really – and Mrs. Perkins is great. She runs a good ship.”