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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Katherine Madden Named North Wildwood Police Chief

Christopher South
North Wildwood Police Chief Katherine Madden takes her oath of office from City Clerk Scott Jett after the City Council approved the mayor’s appointment of her as the new police chief, May 1. Shown with her are her husband, Ryan, son, Ryan Jr., and daughter, Trinity.

By Christopher South

NORTH WILDWOOD – Katherine Madden became the 14th North Wildwood police chief and the department’s first woman chief ever on Wednesday, May 1.

In a ceremony held outside at the Lou Booth Amphitheater, 2nd and Ocean Avenues, a crowd that included local, county and state officials welcomed Madden to her new role as the highest law enforcement officer in North Wildwood. Madden was just promoted to captain on June 7, 2023, knowing Police Chief John Stevenson and Deputy Chief William Etsell would retire in 2024. Etsell retired on March 31, and Stevenson on April 30.

In a Herald article in June 2023 noting Madden’s promotion as the highest-ranking female in the North Wildwood Police Department, to date, she expressed her desire to be named chief one day.

“I want it to be something normal. I want it to become the gender norm. My end goal is to be chief. That is my end-end goal for my career, and I do want to be a role model for other girls,” she said in that article.

Madden said at the time she wanted to downplay the gender connection to her position in the police department, while still wanting to be a role model. She said she wished her accomplishment would be considered “normal and obtainable by anyone, regardless of gender.”

That day came a step closer as the North Wildwood City Council voted unanimously to endorse the mayor’s appointment of Madden as the new chief of police.

Madden’s story is one of family – or families – growing up, being educated in the Wildwoods, and establishing her career in the North Wildwood Police Department. Mayor Patrick Rosenello outlined her history in his remarks, saying she was born and raised in North Wildwood, where she attended Margaret Mace Elementary and Wildwood Catholic High School. Madden said in her remarks that, while taking part in Student Government Day in 1999, while in seventh grade, she served as chief of police, making this her second time as chief.

North Wildwood Police Chief Katherine Madden remarks on being appointed the 14th police chief in the North Wildwood Police Department. Photo Credit: Christopher South

Rosenello, however, not to diminish her achievement as a seventh grader, described her actual promotion to chief as a “historic day in North Wildwood.” He said she was a fourth generation police officer, being the daughter of retired NWPD Detective Sgt. Thomas Flounders. He said her grandfather and great-grandfather both retired from Philadelphia Police Department. Her brother is currently a Middle Township police detective. Madden’s immediate family took part in the promotion ceremony, including her husband, Ryan Sr., and her sons Ryan Jr., 8, and Rory, 2. Her father pinned on her chief’s badge with the help of her daughter Trinity, 6.

“Rory is not allowed to handle sharp objects,” Rosenello said.

Ryan Jr. held the Bible while his mother took the oath from North Wildwood City Clerk Scott Jett.

Madden expressed her appreciation to those who came before her and with whom she is currently working, quoting professional women’s soccer player Amy Wambach, who said, “I never scored a goal in my life without first getting a pass from someone else.”

“No one arrives to these moments in life without others investing in them and helping them get there,” Madden said.

Madden, of course, had family members to inspire her, but she also started at the bottom in 2006 when she was hired as a special law enforcement officer, also called a Class II. She was hired full time in 2007 and in 2014 she was promoted to sergeant. By 2019 she became a lieutenant and was made captain in 2023.

Madden, although she wished to downplay the significance of her gender as she rose in the ranks to chief, said, “As the first female police chief for the City of North Wildwood, I am acutely aware of the historical significance of this occasion. However, I do not want this to be about breaking barriers or shattering glass ceilings; but about the ever changing collective journey we undertake as guardians of justice and stewards of safety.”

New Police Chief Katherine Madden has her chief’s badge pinned on by her father, retired NWPD Detective Sgt. Thomas Flounders, aided by her daughter, Trinity. Photo Credit: Christopher South

Madden also described the law enforcement profession as a “dynamic and demanding profession,” that requires not only skill and courage but also empathy and understanding.

Madden also described the human element of policing, saying, “Behind every badge, every uniform, and every rank, there beats a heart driven by a desire to serve, to protect, and to make a positive difference in the lives of others.” She spoke about reaffirming the profession’s commitment to its core principles: Integrity, accountability, and respect. “These principles must guide our actions, shape our decisions, and inform our interactions with every individual we encounter,” Madden said.

Madden, who recently attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, said the experience made it clear to her the need for innovation and adaptation as law enforcement faces evolving challenges, describing a “landscape of law enforcement” that “is continually shifting.” She said police departments must embrace new technologies, methodologies, and best practices, and be collaborative.

“Effective policing cannot be achieved in isolation,” she said.

Madden concluded her remarks by thanking the mayor and county and saying she was humbled by the trust they placed in her.

Contact the reporter, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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