Founder, First Police K9 Unit, Bergen County, NJ
Adjunct Professor, Fairleigh Dickinson University, School of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
Joel G. Trella is the retired Chief of Police of the Bergen County Police Department and former Sheriff of Bergen County, New Jersey. Joel currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s School of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies.
Joel’s working dog background started in 1974. He was assigned as one of two initial K9 handlers for the Bergen County Police Department. Joel and his K9 “Sebastian” were trained at the Philadelphia Police K9 Training Unit and graduated with Class #31 in December of 1974. On January, l975 the Bergen County Police Department’s K9 Unit became operational with two K9 teams.
During his 13-year assignment to the Police Service section, he served as a handler, unit supervisor and certified trainer. He was the initiating trainer for the Bergen and Passaic County Sheriff’s Department and provided many other police agencies in-service K9 training. Joel’s specialization was utilizing police service dogs as an aid to criminal investigation.
During his police career with the Bergen County Police Department the K9 unit went from two K9 teams to its current compliment and expanded its responsibilities to include narcotic, explosive and accelerant detection dogs. He remains active advising the Bergen County K9 Unit on police service dog matters.
Chief Joel G. Trella began his law enforcement career with the Bergen County Police Department. Joel served in the Bergen County Police Department for 29 years from 1969 to his retirement in 1998. His many assignments included uniformed, investigative, training and administrative duties. He retired in 1998 after serving his last seven years as Chief of Police. After retiring he was appointed Director of the Bergen County Office of Highway Traffic Safety where he directed educational programs for law enforcement and the public focusing on preventing traffic fatalities through education, enforcement and engineering. In November 2001, Joel was elected Bergen County Sheriff and served in that role from 2002 through December 2004. His duties and responsibilities included leading a 500-member Sheriff’s Department, operating a 1,145 bed county jail, providing security for the Bergen County Courthouse and operating a county-wide crime scene unit. From 2006-2009 Professor Trella was employed by the United States Department of Justice, United States Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey as a Law Enforcement Coordination Specialist where he coordinated interagency law enforcement activities and served as the District Office Security Manager. Sheriff Trella holds a Masters in Administrative Science and a Bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a AAS, Police Science from Bergen Community College. He is Certified Public Manager and a graduate of FBI National Academy and National Sheriff’s Institute.