Morris County: Sheriff’s Office Promotes Nine Officers

September 4, 2019/in Media, Press Releases/by New Jersey Sheriff’s Association

From left to right: Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Detective Sergeant Thomas Reilly, Detective Lieutenant Walter Rawa, Detective Lieutenant Laura Flynn, Detective Captain Denise Thornton, Chief Sheriff’s Officer Kelley Zienowicz, Detective Captain Mark Chiarolanza, Detective Lieutenant Aaron Tomasini, Detective Lieutenant Michael Turkot, Detective Sergeant Jamie Rae, and Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer

  Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon announces the promotions of nine Officers who all excelled at their previous ranks, including new Chief Sheriff’s Officer Kelley Zienowicz.

   “The Officers who are being promoted have all had a part, through their vision and leadership, in making the Morris County Sheriff’s Office a stellar agency.  Their positive and proactive work will continue elevating this agency to greater heights,” said Sheriff Gannon.

   The Sheriff administered the oath of office to the nine Officers who officially were promoted during an afternoon ceremony Tuesday, Sept. 3, in the Historic Courtroom of the Morris County Courthouse.  Along with bagpipers, the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard was present to pay respect to their fellow Officers.

   Sheriff Gannon commended the Officers for helping to shape the agency into one that is at the forefront of addressing societal problems, including opioid addiction and threats of violence in schools and at public events.

   “I want to thank all the tremendous people in the Sheriff’s Office, sworn officers and civilians, who have made it a preeminent law enforcement agency that is a model of discipline, courage, efficiency and compassion,” Sheriff Gannon said.

   Chief Zienowicz, an FBI National Academy graduate and crime scene investigation expert, was promoted from the rank of Detective Lieutenant to Chief Sheriff’s Officer. She now is the highest-ranking Sheriff’s Officer in the Bureau of Law Enforcement and is responsible for daily oversight over 120 sworn officers in the bureau’s newly restructured three divisions: Protective Services, Specialty Services, and Criminal Investigations.

   Collectively, the divisions encompass security in the Morris County Courthouse, Sheriff’s sales and foreclosures, warrants, professional standards, Community Outreach and Planning, the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team, the Crime Lab and Crime Scene Investigation Unit, K-9 and Bomb Sections, and Evidence, among other areas. The Sheriff’s Office has two bureaus, the Bureau of Law Enforcement and the Bureau of Corrections.

   “Throughout my career, I have had an opportunity to work with most of you, either as a peer or as a supervisor, and I have learned from each and every one of you along the way,” Chief Zienowicz said at the ceremony.

   “I know this agency is successful because there are dedicated members in every rank and assignment who make us successful.  I am honored to be a part of this great agency, and to have this chance to help guide us into a new and exciting chapter with this freshly minted and very capable group of supervisors.  I hope that every member knows our mission is to help everyone find their own successes, striving to be the best people they can be, while providing the best services to the citizens of Morris County,” Chief Zienowicz said.


  • CHIEF Kelley Zienowicz. She began her sworn officer career with the Sheriff’s Office in 2001, and spent nearly a dozen years in the Crime Scene Investigation Unit. A fingerprint expert in Superior Court, she also testified at trial about evidence in major homicide cases, including State v. Jose Feliciano, State v. Anthony Novellino, and State v. Carlos Rojas.

   Chief Zienowicz is a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy, is experienced in the work performed by all divisions, and has risen through the ranks from Officer to Detective Lieutenant before being selected as Chief.

  • CAPTAIN Mark Chiarolanza. His right leg was amputated below the knee after a motorcycle crash in 1992 but Captain Chiarolanza persevered, took the Law Enforcement Exam, and was hired by the Sheriff’s Office in 1996 and completed the Morris County Police Academy and all fitness requirements with a prosthetic leg.

   Captain Chiarolanza has a master’s degree in public administration, is a certified tactical EMT who is a founding member of the Morris County Rapid Deployment Team that went to New Orleans in 2005 on a relief mission to assist after Hurricane Katrina.  In 2016, he was promoted to Detective Lieutenant and was assigned as Division Commander of the Legal Services Division and all aspects of the K-9 Section.

  • CAPTAIN Denise Thornton. She started her career with the Sheriff’s Office in 2002 and worked in the Protective Services Division at the Morris County Courthouse until 2012.  Captain Thornton has been responsible for maintaining accreditation for the Sheriff’s Office, and she assisted with security when the 2014 Super Bowl game was played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.  Promoted to Detective Lieutenant in 2016, her duties have included overseeing professional standards in the Bureau of Law Enforcement and community outreach efforts such as the Explorers Post 140, and meetings with area clergy.
  • LIEUTENANT Aaron Tomasini. A decorated U.S. Army National Guard Captain who has twice been deployed, he supervises the Sheriff’s Office K-9 Section and is a certified Bomb Squad technician. Lieutenant Tomasini is pursuing his doctorate in organizational leadership.  He is a member of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team, and has been commissioned as an Infantry Officer in the National Guard.
  • LIEUTENANT Laura Flynn. She joined the agency in 2001 and soon after was assigned to the Crime Scene Investigation Unit and promoted to Sergeant of the Unit in 2015. Lieutenant Flynn has worked on thousands of investigations that include murders, robberies, sexual assaults and other felonies. She testified as a fingerprint expert in several cases, including the 2014 trial of Anthony Novellino, who was convicted of killing his former wife, Judith Novellino, and the trial of Shakur Carasquillo, who was convicted of assaulting and robbing a man in his home in Harding Township.
  • LIEUTENANT MICHAEL TURKOT.  A lifelong swimmer and swim coach, Lieutenant Turkot joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2006.  He has worked in the Protective Services Division, Marine Unit, and Process Unit. He was promoted to Sergeant in June 2015, and has served in the Legal Services Division since April 2016, where he conducts Sheriff’s sales as the final step in the foreclosure process. He has reorganized and streamlined the Legal Services Division to better address the needs of the foreclosure crisis, and helped design a class for civilian employees to enhance their knowledge of the complexities of foreclosures, writs, wage garnishments and civil complaints.
  • LIEUTENANT Walter Rawa. He joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2002, worked in the Warrants Section, Protective Services Division, and in 2006 helped start the Sheriff’s Office traffic support unit.  Lieutenant Rawa previously was a detective for the Emergency Services/K-9 Unit, where he trained, handled and certified multiple canines in explosives, search and rescue, patrol, narcotics and arson.  He is one of the Morris County-wide instructors for the Sheriff’s Office’s Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation and Protection (RSVP-3) program.
  • SERGEANT Thomas Reilly. Sergeant Reilly was a New Jersey Corrections Officer before joining the Sheriff’s Office in January 2003.  He worked in the Protective Services Division, and in 2007, was transferred to the Emergency Services Unit where he was assigned a K-9 partner Koby.  Sergeant Reilly is a New Jersey Army National Guardsman who was deployed in 2008 to Baghdad, Iraq, and currently is again deployed.  During his career, Sergeant Reilly became a certified Bomb Technician.
  • SERGEANT James Rae. Sergeant Rae worked for the Morris County Juvenile Detention Center for one year before he was hired by the Sheriff’s Office in 2003.  He worked in the Protective Services Division and was reassigned in 2004 to be a detective in the Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Sergeant Rae worked extensively on major crimes, including the 2005 murder of 16-year-old Jennifer Parks by two neighbor brothers, and the 2011 murder of Nazish Noorani in Boonton by her husband and his lover.  In 2017, Sergeant Rae left CSI for a full-time assignment to the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team. This highly-trained tactical unit responds to emergencies and patrols Morris County daily to ensure critical infrastructure sites and sensitive facilities are secure.

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