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Cordero resigns to take New Jersey job
By Jennifer Roy / Tribune Staff Writer
Monday, July 5, 2004

NEWTON -- Police Chief Jose Cordero has accepted the job as director of the East Orange Police Department in New Jersey, ending what one rank-and-file officer called a two-and-a-half year dictatorship.

Cordero resigned during a press conference last week, breaking his five-year contract and giving no indication where he was going or if he would stay in law enforcement. Cordero's last day is Friday and he will start his new job July 19.

Mayor David Cohen named Capt. Bob McDonald as Cordero's temporary replacement and said the new chief will likely come from within the department.

The news drew a big sigh of relief from the rank and file.

"He was more of a dictator," Officer Tom Destefano, a 17-year member of the force, said of what he called Cordero's "iron-fisted style of leadership."

"Morale has been boosted about 500 percent all in one day," he said of Cohen's decision to hire from within the department.

Cordero, a former inspector in the New York City Police Department in Queens, said although he likes Newton, there isn't enough room for two chiefs.

"I love this community and certainly there are challenges in every city," he said Friday.

Cordero said he will be in charge of setting policy and direction in East Orange. "It's a big move for me," he said.

McDonald has been with the department for 36 years and served as acting chief in 2000.

Destefano called McDonald a "heads-up guy that knows the community and knows what he's doing."

"We're happy with whoever gets the job as long as it's one of us," Destefano said.

Cordero said last week he is leaving because he has fulfilled the goals he set for himself and the department when he became chief in February 2002.

"I have been extremely proud to serve the City of Newton. It's been a great experience," he said. "It's not what I've been able to do accomplish, but what the department has been able to accomplish.

"I hope at the end of the day the city feels a lot safer."

Cohen said he will appoint a special committee to help him find a new chief, a decision he would like to make "as soon as possible while staying within state law."

The committee, according to state law, must include a member of the Board of Aldermen, three residents, a representative of the Newton Police Association, a business person, an attorney and a member of the Massachusetts Police Chief's Association.
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