Byram installs first police chaplain

Rev. Hugh J. Matlack welcomed by township

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  • Byram Mayor Alex Rubenstein (L) swears in the Rev. Hugh Matlack (R), pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Stanhope, as the first chaplain of the Byram Police Department, on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Phiotos by Mandy Coriston

  • Byram Police Chief Pete Zabita (L) and the Rev. Hugh Matlack (R) at the swearing-in of Matlack as the Byram Police Department's first chaplain

— Rev. Hugh J. Matlack, who has served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Stanhope for nearly 22 years, gained a new title when he became the first chaplain in the history of the Byram Police Department on Tuesday evening, September 4, 2018.

With Byram Police Chief Pete Zabita and several officers in attendance, Mayor Alex Rubenstein administered an oath to Matlack before the Byram Township Council and a small crowd of public attendees, officially installing him as a member of the Byram Police Department and appointing him chaplain.

The unpaid position was created by township ordinance in May of this year, and it was expected that Rev. Matlack would be the township’s choice to be the first to fill the role. Matlack also serves as the chaplain for both the Stanhope Police Department and the Byram Fire Department. Clergy who serve as chaplains for emergency services must in be good standing with the governing body of their religious affiliation, and also receive extensive training from the Police Chaplains Program in conjunction with the New Jersey Police Chaplains Association. Per the ordinance creating the position, the appointment will be on a yearly basis.

“I’m pleased and honored at this appointment,” Matlack said, “I’m happy to be able to do my best on behalf of Byram.”

Chief Zabita is also glad to have Matlack join his team.

“He’s going to help us do our jobs,” Zabita said, “It’s a great service to us and our residents, and it’s a great addition to the department.”

Matlack, who became a chaplain in the spirit of volunteerism and service, said he’s already been on a few calls with the department. “I’m so impressed with their professionalism,” he said, “and their humanity in the face of very difficult incidents.”

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