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FBI Academy Grad Helming Sheriff's Office Will Be Only Female Chief In Morris County

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Kelley Zienowicz, who will be the only female chief in Morris County when she is sworn in to helm the Sheriff's Department next week.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Kelley Zienowicz, who will be the only female chief in Morris County when she is sworn in to helm the Sheriff's Department next week. Photo Credit: Morris County Sheriff's Office

A true leader. Highly educated. Determined and diligent. 

This is how Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon described Kelley Zienowicz, who will be sworn in as chief sheriff's officer next week.

The swearing in ceremony will be Sept. 3, making Zienowicz the highest-ranking officer in the law enforcement bureau and the only female chief in Morris County.

"Chief Zienowicz has a temperament that motivates and energizes others," Gannon said. 

"She is highly-educated, a graduate of the elite FBI National Academy, and a true leader with an impeccable work ethic."

Zienowicz grew up in Chester and attended Villa Walsh Academy. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Boston College in 1999, and a master of arts degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College in New York City in 2003.

She began her career with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office in 1999 as a civilian clerk-typist assigned to the Internal Affairs Section. Within a year, she was hired as a sheriff’s investigator, and attended and completed training at the Morris County Police Academy.

Zienowicz was first assigned to the Protective Services Division, which provides security and judicial protection at the courthouse complex.

In August 2001, she was assigned to the now-defunct Criminal Investigation Section -- currently the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) -- where she spent 11 years assisting in multiple criminal investigations throughout Morris County.

She was called as a witness for the prosecution in several high-profile criminal cases in Superior Court between 2003 and 2014 and was qualified as an expert fingerprint witness in the sexual assault trial and retrial of Andrew Pena.

The chief testified about evidence in the murder trials of Jose Feliciano, convicted of murdering the Rev. Edward Hinds in Chatham in 2009; Anthony Novellino, convicted of killing his former wife, Judith, in Denville; and Carlos Rojas, found guilty of bludgeoning Esteban Hernandez Vazquez and leaving his body in the trunk of a car abandoned in Lincoln Park.

She was promoted to sergeant in April 2012 and assigned to the legal services division as the executions and foreclosure section supervisor. That promotion was followed on March 1, 2016, by another advancement to the rank of detective lieutenant.

Zienowicz was assigned the post of division commander in the administrative division, overseeing internal affairs and special operations sections. She was transferred to the protective services division that September, where she oversaw the courthouse complex and operations and security at the Dover Probation Office.

One of her most profound pleasures was her nomination to attend the 273rd session of the prestigious FBI National Academy, a 10-week course of study in Quantico, Virginia, in Summer 2018. 

Gannon, who backed the nomination, is an FBI National Academy Graduate, as well.

Upon returning from the FBI National Academy, Zienowicz was transferred to the Special Services Division, overseeing CSI, Evidence Section, and the bomb unit.

Assisting in the implementation of new technologies at the Sheriff’s Office, Zienowicz was a member of the evidence unit start-up team for the BEAST evidence tracking system, guided implementation of the CivilServe civil process database system in the Executions and Foreclosure Unit, and coordinated use of the new Computer Aided Dispatch System within the Protective Services Division.

Zienowicz has logged a voluminous number of hours on training, including intensive courses on crash reconstruction, supervision of police personnel, shooting analysis and reconstruction, and interpretation of bloodstain patterns.

She has received the Sheriff’s Achievement Award, Exceptional Duty Award, Unit Citation Medal, Professional Service Medal, Educational Achievement Medal-Masters Degree, Morris County Detective’s Association Distinguished Achievement Unit Award, and the NJ Women in Law Enforcement Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award, which is awarded to women who achieve a law enforcement rank of lieutenant or higher.

Zienowicz is a three-time Police Unity Tour rider and participates annually in the Special Olympics Torch Run.

"Not only am I proud to have the backing of the Sheriff, I know this is an important time for the agency as a whole," she said

"I hope to bring positive motivation to the agency, from the top to the bottom."

The chief will be responsible for management and day-to-day oversight over the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s four divisions: Support Services, Protective Services, Legal Services, and Special Services, which includes the Crime Lab and Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

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