posted on March 01, 2010 14:00
Through years of hard work, dedication and a commitment to their chosen professions, Paterson Police Chief James Wittig and his son, James C. Wittig, MD, have what it takes to get the job done - whether on call, case by case, or for one moment at any given time. Their community based professions range from protecting to healing, preparing to educating and focusing on what is best for the situation at hand.
Holding 41 years on the Paterson Police force thus far, Chief James Wittig understands daily the challenges and triumphs of a growing community. (Paterson is just 8.4 square miles and is one of the most densely populated cities in New Jersey (pop. 150,000) Like many people living, working, educating and rearing their children in Paterson, Chief Wittig was also born, raised and started his own family in Paterson. Upon graduating from Paterson Central High School in 1965, he worked at the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) for three years, first in the Shipping Department then elected as Shop Steward before deciding to go into the police academy. This decision was based partially on an uncle who was an attorney and encouraged him to go into law enforcement. Although his new wife was a bit skeptical at first on his decision because of the dangers, it became apparent that it was both flexible at times and obviously offered excellent opportunities for advancement. Through the years, Wittig embodied the makings of a leader by enrolling in both mandatory and voluntary training classes ranging from the United States Secret Service Dignitary Protection program; Hostage Negotiations; Qualified Gambling Expert (recognize and testify gambling discrepancies); Drug Unit Commander; and enrolling in other job specific management courses. Wittig moved up the ranks from police officer to Sergeant then Lieutenant onto Captain of the Narcotics Bureau, Deputy Chief, and Acting Chief in 2005 and then appointed Chief of Police on January 12, 2006. His experiences and various courses not only prepared him for years of service but obviously prove his unfailing dedication to a city that has given him the strength and an opportunity to make strides in the way police work is done today. Currently, Chief Wittig is a member of the Catholic Charities; Trustee, Straight and Narrow; Passaic County Motion Picture Association, International Association of Police Chiefs, NJ Police Chiefs Association, Police Benevolent Association (PBA); Superior Office Association (SOA) and ASIS International. He is also Board Certified in Security Management.
Over the past few years, the advent of newer technologies has made for a stronger work force as well as foster stronger bonds with agencies such as the FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshal Service, NJ State Police, the Passaic County Prosecutors Office and Sheriff's Office. These connections also enable specially trained personnel within the department to join task forces to fight various crimes. In addition, Chief Wittig has initiated and partnered with the "Urban Enterprise Zone" to add various computer technology to patrol cars and a wireless camera system throughout the city; added a computer-aided dispatch system; 9 11 Phone System; Red Light Camera System, License Plate Reading System and has helped to facilitate the "Emergency Response Team" and K-9 units. Another new advancement that Chief Wittig touts is the "Gunshot Detection System" - Highly sensitive cameras installed on the streets that can single out a gunshot and turn the cameras in the direction of the sound to capture on video and report the location of the gun activity. Not only is the response time increased but the scenario recreated for crime solving. The crime rate in Paterson has significantly dropped due to the various resources that are now available.
On the home front, Chief Wittig spent his free time as a Boy Scout Leader, and was also a Softball and Baseball coach. Although his profession took him away from many family activities, his work ethic, passion and commitment to Paterson was understood and instilled in his children from the very beginning. "I owe much of my successes to my wife who carried the weight of home life often alone. While I was holding down the 'fort' at work, she was doing the same at home and the fruits of her labor are evident in our children's successes," notes Chief Wittig.
Dr. James C. Wittig on the other hand, an orthopaedic surgeon, is also 'on-call, ready to handle the case of the day' but in the field of medicine. As Chief of Orthopaedic Oncology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, he attributes much of his dedication and passion for research and service to what he experienced growing up in Paterson. The close ties with St. Joseph's Medical Center - as a part time orthopedic oncologist and volunteering with a multitude of charity organizations - and his rearing to 'give back where needed' has motivated his quest for better research and solutions to offering care to those less fortunate. Over the last nine years in practice, Dr. Wittig has volunteered his surgical skills and knowledge to help cure many children in Paterson who have been afflicted with rare sarcomas as well as saved their limbs. Today, many of those children have grown up to be healthy adults. "I am just so privileged to have been able to treat so many children in need and give back to the town where I was born and grew up!" notes Dr. Wittig, "It was my father who always taught me to give back to the community of Paterson. I am forever grateful for the values that my father has instilled within me and for the opportunities I have had to use my skills to help so many children in need. I owe it all to my father and mother."
Although at times these two worlds - law enforcement and medicine - can seem "miles apart," the bottom line is that a "pulse" of a city is as strong as the people that are brought together by it, serve within it and reach out with their roots to provide a better future for those around them.