Det. T.J. Varano promoted to sergeant, Arthur Knapp sworn in as Class II police officer

The ceremony took place at the Berlin Borough Council meeting Wednesday night.

T.J. Varano’s mother Jane, left, and wife Jenna, at Varano’s side as he is sworn in by Berlin Borough Mayor Jim Bilella. At right is Chief of Police Mike Miller.

Det. T.J. Varano was promoted to sergeant and Arthur Knapp was sworn as Class II part time officer at the Berlin Borough Council meeting Wednesday night. Additionally, Robert Dugan was hired as a police officer and will be sworn in at a later date.

Chief of Police Michael Miller said it was a very extensive application process, and the department received the most applications for the sergeant position in department history — nine — and they were the most qualified candidates it has ever had for this position.

The police department is a fairly young unit, with the majority of the officers younger than 35. This comes from a large turnover in the last five years due to retirement. Miller said he’s confident Varano will continue to teach those officers, set high standards and lead by example.

“He’s very dependable, trustworthy and a hard worker,” Miller said. “He brings in new ideas to our department, like the junior police academy. He’s just a very dependable person that will further the goals of accountability and integrity to our department.”

Varano has been with the police department for seven years and said he’s excited for this new role because he can share his experiences and ideas with the younger officers.

“It’s nice to move into a role where you can share things that you’ve learned with them and push some other ideas I’ve gained throughout the years since I’ve started,” he said. “Some ideas that maybe I’ve come up with that I want to push along to the younger guys, and now I’ll have that opportunity being in a supervisor role to work with the other supervisors and be able to basically help keep making the police department better and better.”

In other news:

Council announced the borough took a further step with the Simone Farm Open Space acquisition by authorizing an agreement with the Berlin Farmers Market. The back end of Simone Farm will be a commercial portion for the farmers market, which Mayor Jim Bilella said will give the borough more revenue and allow the town to retain and preserve open space in front of the property.

Council is also continuing to make improvements to Clementon Road, a heavily traveled road, especially near Berlin Community Elementary School.

“Last year, we changed the way the signals operated and reduced the lanes from four to two,” Bilella said. “Prior to those improvements, we were averaging 20 to 25 accidents a year, and since those phases of the safety improvement program were implemented, we’ve had zero accidents on Clementon Road.”

The borough began the third project of this program in January by seeking county approval to make sidewalk improvements, something Bilella said he expects will happen this summer.

“People had to wait for cars to go by to get mail from their mailboxes,” he said. “”There’s a huge amount of traffic related to school drop off in addition to children walking to school and the community center is a huge activity area. There’s a safety factor that’s paramount, and we need to make sure that area is safe.”