As reported by, Samuel DeMaio, a 24-year law enforcement veteran described as “the toughest cop” in Newark, was named to lead the state’s largest police department, then given his first order of business: prevent what some fear could be another bloody summer.

DeMaio, 44, who will serve as acting police director, replaces Garry McCarthy, who has been named superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Calling it a “bittersweet” day,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker praised his future and former directors during a morning press conference. 

“There is still much work to be done in Newark, but we stand now on a platform that was designed by a great leader in our city and a great leader in America,” Booker said, referring to McCarthy. Then, turning to DeMaio, who he called a “tactician” committed to emulating McCarthy’s success, the mayor said, “we have a hungry man who is ready to prove himself.”

Booker said that during his search for an acting director, other officers described DeMaio as “the toughest cop that we have. This was the most fearsome fighter.”

DeMaio takes over a department trying to rebound from last year’s massive layoffs and preparing for what some fear may be another crime-filled summer. Last year, Newark experienced its deadliest summer in 20 years, with 35 homicides between June 1 and August 31. DeMaio promised that will not happen again. 

“That is the number one priority right now. I have a summer plan we have been working on,” he said, adding that details on the initiative will be released in the coming weeks. “I think it’s going to have a tremendous impact on our crime this summer. I think it’s something the citizens are going to enjoy seeing.”

Booker said DeMaio will serve as acting director through September, but a peaceful summer could help his chances to lead the department full-time. The former deputy chief is an experienced police executive who worked closely with McCarthy, former Police Director Anthony Ambrose and former Chief Irving Bradley, Jr. He has also served as the department’s chief of detectives and as a precinct commander.

DeMaio’s appointment was met with praise from some law enforcement leaders, who say his background makes him a perfect candidate, and skepticism from others, who say his disciplinary record should be made public.