mccarthy-fitzgerald-murphyChief Steve McCarthy shortly before his swearing in Monday night with his immediate predecessor, Mark Fitzgerald, left, and Councilman Art Murphy. (Click to enlarge)

An overflow crowd packed Red Bank’s council chambers Monday night for the official designation of former police detective Steve McCarthy as chief of the borough’s 41-officer police department.

Amid accolades about his heart and his smarts, the 46-year-old son of a career Jersey City officer was sworn into his post by a former colleague at the Monmouth Prosecutor’s office, Superior Court Judge Anthony Mellaci Jr., whose family is connected by marriage to McCarthy’s.

“He always had what it takes to be chief,” Mellaci told reporters shortly before the ceremony. “He’s very organized, very professional.”

Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw said that McCarthy’s most distinctive quality was his “heart” for both people and the quality of work. “What separates him is how much he cares,” Warshaw told the standing-room audience.

The swearing-in, which was initially expected to occur at the borough government reorganization meeting on January 3, was delayed in order to accommodate the expected crowd, which included chiefs and officers from nearby towns.

McCarthy, in brief remarks, said he hoped to incorporate lessons learned at the elbow of his father as well as the chiefs he’s worked under, including his immediate predecessor, Mark Fitzgerald, who retired last month.

“I’ve always thought of the police department as part of my exended family,” the West Long Branch resident said, adding that he was eager to get to work.