- Sue Tryforos, Borough Historian
Protect & Serve (part 2)
Continuing with our celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the Glen Rock Police Department, this Blog post will focus on John J. Mulqueen, the 3rd GRPD Chief (1953 - 1958). Chief Mulqueen also ties in nicely with our current World War I Honor Roll research project since he was a decorated combat veteran of World War I and his name appears proudly on the Honor Roll Memorial plaque affixed to The Rock.
John Joseph Mulqueen was born in Edgewater, New Jersey in 1896. He was the oldest son (the first of 11 children) of James and Louise Mulqueen. The Mulqueen family grew up in New York City, and when the US entered The Great War, young Jack enlisted with the Marines. After four months of intensive training state-side, in November 1917 he shipped out with the 6th Regiment and entered the thick of the fighting in France. His regiment saw action in some of the most horrific fighting of World War I: St. Mihiel, the Aisne Defensive and Chateau Thierry (successfully defending the road to Paris from advancing German troops), and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive - the deadliest US campaign during the War.
He held the rank of Trumpeter with the 6th Regiment Marines. This was an extremely important and dangerous job since the commanders relied upon the trumpeter to relay signals to the men in battle. John Mulqueen would be wounded twice before the Armistice was signed in November 1918: once at the start of the Belleau Woods campaign and again at St. Mihiel. Following the Armistice, he served as part of the Occupation Forces - marching through France, Belgium and Luxembourg to Coblenz, Germany - until his honorable discharge in May of 1919. A notation on his official service card states: "Character Excellent".
[WWI photo of John J. Mulqueen is courtesy of the Van Heest family]
Returning home, John worked for a short time with the Erie Railroad as a car inspector. He married Ida Rasmussen and they settled on Prospect Street in Glen Rock. John and Ida would have two daughters, Olga and Charlotte. In 1929, he joined the GRPD and spent the rest of his life as a Glen Rock police officer. When Chief Samuel Park died on duty in 1952, the Mayor and Council promoted Officer Mulqueen and he became the third Glen Rock Chief of Police. He too would die on active duty, succumbing to a stroke in April 1958 at the age of 61, after 29 years on the force.
Chief Mulqueen was universally respected and his untimely death was deeply felt in the community. Mayor Frederick Demarest paid tribute with these words: "There's more to being Chief than meets the eye and no matter how good a town is there is a certain amount of unlawfulness that tries to creep in. Jack Mulqueen tolerated none of it here. He was an excellent chief and the town has lost a great man." The editor of the Ridgewood Herald News also paid tribute to Chief Mulqueen: "It was with profound regret that Glen Rock people and police officials all through this area learned last Tuesday of the death of John Mulqueen, Glen Rock's police chief for the past five years and a member of the force for almost 30 years. Genial, kindly and competent, Jack, as he was known to everybody, had come up through the ranks to reach, by merit, the highest post in the force. When he was made a patrolman back in 1929, Jim Houlihan was chief and the force was a very small organization indeed, just five or six men who operated pretty much without benefit of modern equipment. About the only training Jack had had for the job had been his service in World War I when he fought in bitter engagements with the famous Sixth Marines. But over the years he learned a great deal about police methods, studying, taking courses, reading up on modern procedures. Endowed with natural leadership and a quick mind, through his own efforts he made himself into an efficient, capable chief executive officer. Jack was, in a sense, the last of the old-timers, the men who had formed what was almost Glen Rock's first police force. He had made and kept many warm friends in town. His death removes not only a good chief but means a genuine loss to a great many people."
Chief Mulqueen pictured with Glen Rock crossing guards, 1950