Atlantic County has hired a former State Police colonel and Port Authority executive as the new department head for public safety.
Michael Fedorko, 73, of Atlantic City, was confirmed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders on Tuesday after he was appointed by County Executive Dennis Levinson last week.
Freeholder Caren Fitzpatrick asked that the appointment of Fedorko be tabled pending an investigation of whether he inappropriately gave conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh a police escort to a speaking engagement earlier this year.
But Frank Formica, the freeholder chairman, said that issue had nothing to do with Atlantic County. The freeholders then confirmed Fedorko via a voice vote.
Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday that if there had been a normal role call she would have voted against the appointment.
Fedorko retired from the New York/New Jersey Port Authority as its superintendent of police/director of public safety in May after the controversy arose, but county officials said they found no problems.
“It was an absolute nonissue,” Levinson said. “That was standard protocol. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
After the meeting, Fedorko told The Press of Atlantic City he was considering retirement from the Port Authority before the Limbaugh issue arose.
“Everything I did I was allowed to do,” he said. “I was the longest-serving superintendent of police up there. ... July 6 was my ninth-year anniversary, and I was already seriously considering retirement. Once this happened, I decided it was time to go.”
Regardless of the police escort, Fedorko has extensive credentials and has worked throughout the state in several capacities, with his latest job being at the Port Authority. In that role, Fedorko was responsible for the security of all authority facilities, including airports, train systems, bridges, tunnels, bus terminals and shipping ports.
He also coordinated security for Super Bowl XLVII at the Meadowlands and visits to the World Trade Center by Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Pope Benedict, Pope Francis and all living U.S. presidents.
He will now work to make Atlantic County a safer place.
“We are going to see some really innovative ideas for public safety here in the county,” Formica said. “If we were talking about a baseball team, you could say we just signed Mike Trout.”
Fedorko’s salary in Atlantic County will be $75,000 per year. He will not receive medical benefits or a pension.
He will be the first department head for public safety in nearly 10 years.
“We haven’t filled this position since 2009, and honestly it wouldn’t have been filled if we didn’t get Michael Fedorko,” Levinson said Tuesday. “He has an outstanding resume, and we are very grateful to have him here.”
Over the past nine years, county Business Administrator Jerry Del Rosso served as department head for public safety on top of his other duties.
Fedorko will now oversee both the director of the Office of Emergency Management and the warden at the Atlantic County jail. He also will work with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office and other county agencies.
Fedorko has a long career in public service and served as a U.S. Marine.
In 1967, he was wounded in action in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart. He was honorably discharged in 1972.
After his military service, Fedorko spent about 30 years with the State Police.
He held several positions there, including providing security for the governor, handling security for the National Governors Association in Atlantic City in 1981 and the Republican Governors Association with former President Richard Nixon in 1985, and coordinating security for the New Jersey contingent of delegates at several Democratic and Republican national conventions.
After he retired from the State Police in 1999, he was appointed to the Casino Control Commission in Atlantic City, where he stayed until 2009.
“I was on the Boardwalk with Gov. (Brendan) Byrne when they signed the (legalized gambling) bill, so I’ve always really liked Atlantic County,” Fedorko said.
Also at the meeting, the freeholders Tuesday banned single-use plastic bags and straws in all county parks and tabled a resolution regarding the change of the title of county “freeholders” to “commissioners.”
The tabled motion came after a lengthy discussion of whether the term “freeholder” is racist.