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Retiring Tenafly police chief taking helm of food pantry

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

EXCLUSIVE: Retirement after 28 years will be special for Tenafly Police Chief Michael Bruno: He’ll soon become the new executive director of the Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair.

“I have done everything I hoped to do in my career but am moving on to do some work that is equally important to me,” Bruno, Tenafly’s chief the past 10 years, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

The pantry services mostly hard-working people from Newark, Bloomfield, Montclair and other Essex County towns who fall under the federal poverty level and are struggling to support their families.

Many are senior citizens — unemployed or underemployed — who have worked their entire lives.

“It puts everything in perspective, that’s for sure,” said Bruno, who ends his police career a month from today.

Bruno officially takes charge of the pantry in March but will be learning the ropes next month from outgoing Executive Director Deanna London, who’s been with the organization 25 years.

Although Human Needs gets food from the USDA and a state-funded purchase program, it primarily relies on individuals and foundations, including area supermarkets. It also has a committed volunteer corps. Combined, these make the pantry an attractive place to land for someone like Bruno.

Retiring chiefs can do well in consulting or security-related jobs, but the commitment to public service that made him a cop in the first place still burns.

“Over the years I have done volunteer work when time allowed, doing walk-in dinners for the homeless, and have participated in outreach programs,” Bruno told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “This is a perfect fit for me.

“I jumped at the opportunity.”

Some may not know that Bruno founded New Jersey’s first crime scene cleanup company, Scene-Clean, in 1990. Those who’ve worked with him in law enforcement and education describe the chief as progressive, innovative and cooperative.

Bruno has lectured and taught at law enforcement and security conferences, specializing in tactical responses to active shooter situations. A former SWAT team commander, he also authored the current standards being used by all tactical teams in Bergen County.

The outgoing chief leaves a force that is extremely flexible and diversely skilled for its size (roughly 70 employees). He’s proud, he said, that they are all so highly motivated, dedicated and professional.

“There’s a lot of young talent behind me in my department, and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future,” Bruno said. “I hope I left them a good foundation.”

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