Brick Police Chief Nils R. Bergquist gave one more reminder to his officers after being awarded the first Key to the Township by Mayor John Ducey this week: “stay safe every day.”
It has been 35 years’ worth of days for Bergquist, who became a police officer with the Seaside Heights Police Department, served a stint with the Ocean Gate Police Department and then finally came home to Brick, where he capped off his career by serving as chief for eight years.
“I’m going to miss coming to work every day,” said Bergquist, holding back tears as he introduced his wife, Donna, who he’ll be able to spend more time with after he leaves town hall for the final time Nov. 30. “I’m going to miss the people in this community and most of all, the men and women of this department. They’re the best anywhere.”
“Donna and I got married the day before I started as a policeman,” he continued. “She’s had to put up with a lot of long shifts being worked, holidays, lots of overtime. Needless to say, the last eight years, my dance card’s been pretty full.”
Bergquist has had to deal with the largest emergency responses in Brick history while serving as chief, including the 2010 blizzard, Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, where he led not only the Brick department, but 200 National Guard soldiers who were in town to help with the emergency response.
“The chief was the perfect person to lead this town through that storm,” said Ducey.
But it will be many of the smaller events that define the chief’s character and his love of Brick Township.
“He’s everywhere,” Ducey said. “He’s at every dinner for numerous charitable organizations, all the school events, National Reading Day, dinner after dinner. He’s probably been to Crystal Point more than any other person.”
Bergquist said he plans to remain in Brick after retiring. Deputy Chief Jim Riccio will take over as chief after being formally sworn in Dec. 15.
“Jim Riccio’s a great cop, and a damn good leader,” Bergquist said.
As for what he’ll remember most about his time leading the Brick department: support from the community.
“It’s been a good ride,” Bergquist said. “All the letters, e-mails and phone calls I’ve gotten from people in the public and people I’ve worked with were pretty special. I tell other chiefs in the state about that, and they just can’t believe how much support we have in this community.”