Chief Jonathan R. Parham (Ret.)
By Valerie Velazquez-Stetz
Retired Chief Jonathan R. Parham, CPM was born in Newark, New Jersey. Soon after his birth, his hard-working parents decided to move to the City of Linden, New Jersey for a better life. At the time, his family was one of only a few black families in town. Chief Parham took the civil service test after working several jobs and not knowing which career path to take. He scored very high and was hired in 1992. He worked with the Linden Police Department until 1996, when he decided to take a chance at the Union County Prosecutors Office, where he served until 1998.
During 1998, he found himself looking to return to the streets of Linden and help his community, and after several negotiations and attempts he was able to return to the City of Linden as a police officer. He immediately began to study and learn everything needed to become a sergeant with the help of his loving wife. Together, their hard work paid off and in 2005 he was promoted to sergeant. When eligible for future promotional exams, Parham was always eager to advance in his career, coming out number one or two each time he tested, eventually landing promotions as a lieutenant and then captain.
During his time in the trenches, he worked in many specialized units including but not limited to holding the prestigious title of Lieutenant Commander of SWAT. As a Captain and without his full 25 years on the job, the Chief wanted to resign, due to a turbulent year the department endured, and he wanted to implement many new operational improvements, but was held back by the administration.
Chief Parham’s education is not only impressive, but a credit to his motivation, which was admired and viewed by others who believed he was leading by example. His education includes attending the American Military University for Intelligence Analysis, in Charles Town, WV (2013-2018); Certificate Public Safety Liability Mitigation, Richard Stockton College of NJ (2015); West Point Command and Leadership Academy, U.S. Military Academy West Point; New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
Additionally, his experience includes working as a detective with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office (1996-1998), Senior Training Consultant-Cardinal Point Strategies (2015-2016), and currently serves as the owner and Chief Law Enforcement Trainer at 360 AOR Worldwide.
His professional associations include, Municipal Representative-Joint Terrorism Task Force, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, National Field Trainers Officers Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Tactical Officers Association, Union County Police Chiefs Association, International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts.
Parham also founded and headed his department’s Counter Terrorism Unit and played a key role in capturing Islamic terrorist, Ahmad Rahimi, serving as the Incident Commander during the arrest and shootout. While under his command, Officers Peter Hammer and Angel Padilla became national heroes, as they were credited with apprehending Rahimi. Chief Parham is very proud of his officers’ preparedness after they engaged in a shootout that led to the capture of the man wanted for bombings in NY and NJ during September of 2016. Therefore, Chief Parham believes in training continuously. He states, “No matter how much training you do, you’re never really sure how you will respond in different situations.” “These officers did a fantastic job, and I thank God that they are alive today” Parham added. It’s impossible to fully prepare for such a situation, and he recalled being very thankful for a discussion they had at the morning roll call on the day of the shooting, as they talked about the importance of wearing a bulletproof vest, which one of the officers was shot in during the altercation with Rahimi. Without his vest, he would most likely not be alive today.
“The amount of stress that the officers were under and the amount of time that it takes them to discern a situation and react there’s no way to re-create that in training” said Parham.
Following the incident, President Obama called the officers on their phones and personally communicated to them about how appreciative the American people were for their courageous actions. Chief Parham is the first black Chief of Police in Linden, New Jersey. His advice to new officers is “Develop their communication skills and develop relationships with the public. This is their greatest tool in law enforcement. Put your ego aside. Stay healthy and in good shape, study and learn from your mistakes.”
Valerie A. Stetz (Velazquez) retired on accidental disability from the Jersey City Police Dept. She was injured in a radio car accident responding to a robbery in progress call. Valerie is a member of the NJ Police Honor Legion. She is the radio host for the popular Internet show “Blue World Uncensored” on DDV RADIO. Valerie is married, with a son and daughter.