Nicholas Caristo, a major who has been acting chief of the Palm Beach Police Department since September, has been appointed police chief by Town Manager Kirk Blouin.
Blouin announced the promotion before a standing-room only audience Friday at a department meeting in the Town Council chambers at Town Hall.
“Major Caristo has exhibited the necessary grit, integrity and dedication to lead this community into the future,” Blouin said.
Caristo has 20 years of experience with the New York Police Department and 14 years with the Palm Beach department, which he joined in 2005 as a patrolman.
He moved up the ranks, becoming detective in the Organized Crime, Vice and Narcotics Unit, sergeant, captain and major. He became acting police chief upon the retirement of Deputy Police Chief Ann-Marie Taylor in September.
Caristo is the first department leader to hold the title of police chief since 2011, when Blouin left the post to become public safety director and the positions of police chief and fire chief were dissolved. In February 2018, Blouin was promoted to town manager, and the public safety director post was eliminated. Blouin has remained directly involved in the management of the two public safety departments.
Caristo presides over a department that has suffered some morale problems and high turnover since the Town Council made deep cuts to pension benefits in 2012. The department lags behind local competitors in pay and benefits — a problem the council has pledged to correct.
Blouin said the police chief’s job “is a tough one. You have to work in those shoes to fully understand. The pressures are great.” Caristo “is certainly up for the challenge,” he said.
Caristo thanked Blouin, Mayor Gail Coniglio, the Town Council, the Palm Beach Police Foundation, the community and wife Lori for their support.
“I wear this uniform every day in pride that I am part of a police department with the brightest and dedicated officers,” he said. “I am grateful and proud to serve a community that has given their police department the amount of support and encouragement as you have.”
Throughout his Palm Beach career, Caristo has received 23 department/citizen commendations. He was named officer of the month six times, awarded Kiwanis Officer of the Quarter twice and is a recipient of the Sons of the American Revolution Law Enforcement Commendation Medal.
Caristo holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from State University of New York Empire State College and a master of science degree in organizational leadership from Palm Beach Atlantic University.