Ernesto Morillo, a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education, Leadership, Management, and Policy at Seton Hall, was appointed the new chief of police for the South Orange police department.
Morillo, who held the rank of lieutenant prior to his appointment as chief, is an instructor at the Junior Police Academy, participates in the Community Police Collaborative, and has championed the Village's Community Care and Justice initiative which has been led by Village Trustee Donna Coallier, chair of the Village's Health and Public Safety Committee and Professor Juan Rios, Director of Seton Hall University's Master of Social Work program.
The Community Care & Justice program was initiated by South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and is a collaboration between the South Orange community, Seton Hall University and Essex County. The initiative seeks to "reimagine" traditional models of law enforcement through the larger lens of public safety and wellness with a greater emphasis on crisis prevention.
The announcement of Lt. Morillo's promotion was made by South Orange Village president Sheena Collum, herself an alumna of Seton Hall. "I cannot adequately put into words how wildly excited I am to welcome Ernesto into this new role," said Collum. "He embodies a strong and empathetic duty to care, understands the importance of community collaboration and relationship building, is a strong advocate for transparency and data, and most importantly, he knows that fostering public trust builds legitimacy."
Morillo will serve as the first minority police chief in South Orange's history.
"I believe that as police officers, we are more guardians than warriors," said Morillo. "We need to be able to listen and learn from our community, align our common goals, and have the flexibility to adapt to changing needs. Integrity, professionalism and compassion should be easily identifiable in every officer privileged enough to wear a badge. South Orange Police stands on a strong foundation of young, dedicated individuals, and I intend to create an environment where they can be successful by providing opportunities where they can excel and be their most authentic selves. I thank Village President Collum, the Board of Trustees, Administration, Community Police Collaborative, and my law enforcement colleagues for putting their faith in me. Every day I will work to not let you down."