Montclair, NJ – Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti and Det. Sgt. Charlie Cunningham had an opportunity learn a bit of history about their department last week when they visited with former Montclair resident Jean Powers (née Dempsey). Det. Sgt. Cunningham knows her family and he recently learned that Mrs. Powers’ father served on the township’s police force.
The 91-year-old Mrs. Powers is the last living of seven siblings. While attending Immaculate Conception and Montclair high schools, she lived on both Montague Place and Gates Avenue. The first-floor apartment on Montague Place was shared by the nine members of her family. The head of the household was a Montclair police officer, the late Captain Peter Dempsey, who served on the force for 43 years, from 1923 until 1966, when he retired at the rank of Captain.
Chief Thomas Russo (Ret.), who was a patrolman at the time of Capt. Dempsey’s retirement, recalls him being the first member of the Montclair Police Department to attend the prestigious F.B.I. National Academy. He graduated from Quantico in 1943. Capt. Dempsey’s achievements don’t end there – he was also a veteran of the United States Navy. Capt. Dempsey passed away in 1972.
“It was a pleasure assisting Mrs. Powers in her walk down memory lane, while visiting her former schools and residences,” said Det. Sgt. Cunningham. “She was given a letter signed by J. Edgar Hoover, welcoming her father to the FBI National Academy. We also treated her to a tour of the Montclair Police Department and a Tierney’s hamburger,” he said.
“The Montclair Police Department has such a long history of men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting this community,” said Chief Conforti. “Captain Dempsey is one of many who have served here. It was a pleasure and an honor to meet his daughter and to express our thanks for the contributions that her father made while serving this community.”