Top Cops Archives
COURIER AFTER BEING
Trooper Daniel Ellington and his partner stopped a station wagon at about
10:30 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, January 29, 2003. Both
troopers are assigned to the Camden Anti-Crime Partnership with 100 other
state troopers fulfilling a promise made by Gov. James E. McGreevey to
help the struggling city battle crime.
During the stop the eighteen-year-old passenger was removed from the
vehicle and taken into custody without incident. This is where
things went bad.
The driver was told to exit the vehicle. Ignoring officer commands,
the driver suddenly put the car in gear and began to drive away.
Trooper Ellington, in trying to stop the fleeing subject, found himself
hanging on the vehicle's roof rack. The driver refused to stop, and
Trooper Ellington was being dragged.
The driver accelerated to a high rate of speed with Trooper Ellington
still hanging on for life. This continued for at least two full
blocks until Trooper Ellington was able to unholster his service weapon
and fire at the driver. Ellington was then able to jump off
the vehicle just before it crashed into a different car. Trooper
Ellington suffered scrapes and bruises as a result of the incident.
The driver was rushed to Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in
Camden where he was later pronounced dead.
According to officials from the New Jersey State Police, a
"substantial quantity of cocaine" was discovered in the vehicle
when it was searched after the incident.
It's been a rough few weeks for NJ law officers. Trooper Ellington,
if you hadn't taken the steps you did, this story could very well be on
the Memorial Page of this site instead of the Top Cops page. You did
what you had to do at the time, and you are here today. Amazing
Grace will not fill a funeral hall, and your family still has you.
The subject had no regard for your life or that of others judging by the
dealer-sized amount of cocaine he had. The battle against drugs is
violent, but this incident wasn't precipitated by you. You simply
reacted the way most of us hope we would. You
were combat tested, and you won!
New Jersey State Police's
It was almost two-in-the-morning when Princeton Township Police Officers
Sgt. Judd Petrone, an 11-year veteran; Officer Fred Williams, a 3-year
veteran; Officer Harry Martinez, a 9-year veteran, and Officer Christopher
King, a newly hired officer were dispatched to a residence for a reported
disturbance involving an intruder. What they didn’t know were the
details leading up to the dispatch.
Fifteen minutes earlier all was quiet and everyone was sleeping in the
Sword residence when they were woken up to the ringing of their doorbell.
Through the upstairs window they tried to ask who was there but only heard
groans. Believing that someone might be injured, they went downstairs to
further investigate. When they opened the door, the visitor, 24, pushed
his way inside. He went into the kitchen and began talking to himself.
Mrs. Sword was concerned and called 9-1-1. She also went upstairs where
she woke and asked her brother, Mr. Sullivan, to come down. While upstairs
screams of “he has a knife!” came from her husband who was still
downstairs. Apparently, the intruder grabbed a 12-inch knife from the
Mrs. Sword and her brother rushed downstairs and found Mr. Sword bleeding
and fighting with the armed intruder. Mr. Sullivan joined the fight. The
three fought violently for several moments, and then the two attacked the
intruder with a frying pan. This stopped the attack. The two men then
halted their advance and began to treat the intruder for his injuries when
he suddenly stood up and began walking upstairs where children were
sleeping. Mr. Sword and Mr. Sullivan reengaged the intruder and struck him
again with the frying pan. The intruder was forced outside by the two
defenders. He came back in and grabbed the knife again but stormed back
Here is where Princeton Township Police Officers Sgt. Judd Petrone,
Officer Fred Williams, Officer Harry Martinez, and Officer Christopher
With guns drawn the officers commanded the subject to drop the knife. He
refused and moved closer to the officers. They continued with their
commands. As the subject grew closer, he lunged at officers with the
knife. The officers retreated but one fell. The subject continued closer,
and officers then fired. In all the chaos, only three shots were fired.
The subject was pronounced dead some time later.
These officers showed incredible restraint. Even though the use of deadly
force would have been a justified from the onset, these officers did
everything they could to avoid having to go that route. And when
deadly force was used, the officers kept presence of mind to cease fire
when the threat was stopped.
No one signed up for this job to take a life. But, it is sometimes
necessary to protect others. You guys didn't provoke this.
Despite the bravery of Mr. Sword and Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Sword had already
been stabbed multiple times and lay wounded inside with a collapsed lung
after being stabbed directly in the chest. If the intruder had made
it back into the house or had escaped, his wake of terror would most
likely have been much greater. You guys did what we hope the rest of
us would do in the same situation!
Princeton Township Police Department's
Sergeant Judd Petrone
Do not hesitate for one second to make use of the numerous resources available to
you including 1-866-COP-2COP
(all police officer helpline).
GOLPE AND VECCHIONE
STOP MURDER SPREE
It was about 7:00 a.m. on Monday, January 20, 2003 when Newark Police
Officers William Golpe and Gene Vecchione were dispatched to a stabbing
call. When they arrived in the lobby of the building a female security
guard told them that she had seen blood on the ninth floor. Police
Officers Golpe and Vecchione and two backup officers accompanied the
security guard and took the elevator back up to the ninth floor. When the
doors of the elevator opened, a nightmare began.
As they stepped out of the elevator, the group ran into a subject holding
a knife. He was wearing a t-shirt that was caked in blood, and he was
standing over his father who he had just murdered. What the officers didn’t
know was that another victim lay dead in a different elevator car.
Police Officers Golpe and Vecchione shouted commands. They repeatedly
ordered the subject to drop the knife. He refused. The officers then
escalated their efforts and attempted to use pepper spray. Still, the
subject refused to drop the knife. Police Officer Golpe then tried to kick
the knife out of the subject’s hands. Unsuccessful. Finally, the
officers fired shots. The subject retreated but after breaking the knife
in half he threw the handle at the officers and then charged at them with
the blade. The officers fired again mortally wounding the subject.
The subject had already murdered two people before succumbing to his
injuries. One of the people was his 69-year-old father, and the other was
a 79-year-old innocent bystander who accidentally walked into the dispute
while delivering newspapers.
There is not one ounce of doubt that these two officers saved the life of
the next person who would have wandered upon this deranged man. These
officers risked their own safety by delaying the use of deadly force as
much as they did. They began with verbal commands, then pepper spray, and
then trying to physically knock the knife from the man’s hand before
going to deadly force.
Police Officers William Golpe and Gene Vecchione, do not second guess your
actions! You did not ask for this situation. You were forced into this
situation! You went face to face with every law enforcement officer’s
worst nightmare, and you won. A deranged man was on a murder spree,
and you stopped him. It was reported that counseling may be made
available if you request it. You should request it, and it should be
mandatory! The entire incident is being reviewed by IA investigators
as part of normal protocol. Let's get this IA done with quickly
guys, and let's publicly clear these officers. They do not need
Newark Police Department's
Police Officer William
Police Officer Gene
The way you handled this situation should be taught in every police
academy across the state. There are numerous resources available to
you including 1-866-COP-2COP
(all police officer helpline). Make use of them.
PD'S KIRKBRIDE AND
PICOU SAVE WOMAN FROM FIRE
was 3:30 a.m. just five days before Christmas. They were dispatched
to a report of a woman screaming. While in route, it was upgraded to
a structure fire with entrapment. Sergeant John Kirkbride and
Patrolman Tom Picou were the first to arrive.
As they drove up they could see heavy smoke coming from the house.
When they reached the house they heard a woman screaming for help.
She was standing on the roof over her porch wearing only a
nightgown. There were flames and heavy smoke pouring out of the
window she exited. Her words weren't making any sense, and she was
in a complete state of panic. Later they would find out that she was
Sgt. Kirkbride and Ptl. Picou ran to front door and kicked it in only to
be pushed back by smoke and a bright orange glow. The smoke was so
heavy that the officers could not determine the exact location of the
fire. The two officers split up to look for a ladder which sent the
woman into an even greater state of panic, and she stumbled right to the
edge of the roof.
Believing that only seconds remained before the woman jumped or fell, Sgt.
Kirkbride and Ptl. Picou got an idea. They drove Ptl. Picou's patrol
car, which happened to be a Ford Expedition, over the curb, onto the lawn
and slammed it into the house. They climbed on the truck and used it
as a ladder to reach the roof. Together, the two officers were able
to rescue the woman, Ruth Flemming. They grabbed her and lowered her
down to the arms of the other officers who had arrived.
The officers then all tried to again gain entry into the house as the
woman's husband was still inside but were unable, and he was lost.
The woman was taken to Kennedy Hospital in Stratford and was released two
days later thanks to Sgt. John Kirkbride and Tom Picou.
Sgt. Kirkbride later said, "I wish we could have done more. It
hurts to see a family thanking you for saving their mother / grandmother
but in the same breath they lost their father / grandfather."
These officers put their own safety in great risk to help a
stranger. They improvised with what they had and came up with an
excellent idea using their vehicle which saved this woman's life.
Magnolia Police Department's
Patrolman Tom Picou
Great job guys!
FAMILY'S DEBT FOR LIFE
Runnemede cops went. It was a first-aid call for an unconscious,
unresponsive patient. But, there was more to it then just the
sterile radio language. Her name was Karen. Her husband's name
was Tim. He was the one who called 9-1-1. It was just
seventeen days before Christmas, twenty-three days before New Years, and
just thirteen days after Thanksgiving. It was "the
holidays." Their 10-year-old and 4-year-old were also there
watching and were scared. It gets worse. Tim had to sit there
and watch as his 8 1/2 month pregnant wife was dying while carrying their
unborn, third child just weeks shy of birth.
Ptl. William Ortiz, Patrolman Chris Robinson and acting Sgt. Scott Raynor
arrived shortly after the call. No breathing, no pulse. Karen
was clinically dead. Immediately, they began administering
CPR. The also used a recently purchased AED (Automatic External
Defibrillator) which gave the rare "Shock" signal. While
doing all of this, the officers rotated in keeping the distraught father
and two other children calm and occupied. Shocks were
The three officers were successful in restarting Karen's heart. The
squad arrived and she was off to the hospital. Despite all that they
had done, they also arranged for neighboring police departments to jump on
the intersections to expedite the transport. At the hospital an
emergency c-section was performed, and medical personnel delivered
delivered a healthy boy, Roger.
On Sunday evening the Borough of Runnemede swore in their new mayor, Frank
Hartman. He had to choke back tears while describing the actions of
these officers. While we never, never mention comments of politicians
which are often self-serving, in this case it was okay since tears had to
be choked back in writing this story.
Does anyone reading this article think that this family will every forget
Ptl. Ortiz, Ptl. Robinson, and Sgt. Raynor?
Unfrigginbelievable job guys. You were probably just seconds away
from losing her and the unborn child. Your actions undoubtedly
brought tears to the eyes of anyone who read this press coverage on
this. NJLawman honors...
Runnemede Borough Police Department's
Ptl. William Ortiz
Ptl. Chris Robinson
Acting Sergeant Scott
There is not much more that can be said that you guys didn't say with your
actions. You are truly heroes.
PTL. KUZMA BREATHS LIFE INTO DYING INFANT
On November 9th a call came over the radio which would send chills down
the spine of any law officer; an infant not breathing and turning
blue. No doubt that Ptl. Walter J. Kuzma Jr. raced to the scene as
supported when the infant's mother later said, "He was there in a
Most certainly, concerns were elevated when he arrived on the scene to
find persons gathered in front of the residence and one of them holding a
motionless baby. Kuzma's training instantly kicked in, and he began
administering CPR along with soft strikes to the infant's back to try and
bring her back. Well, he did.
Shortly after beginning rescue techniques, the infant opened her tiny
eyes. Kuzma later told the Home News and Tribune, "She opened
her eyes and looked at me. It was a feeling you just can't imagine.
The greatest feeling in the world was to see her come back."
On January 6, 2003 Kuzma was honored by his agency and his town at a
Township Meeting. Also in attendance were the infant and her mother
who told the Home News, "I did not get a chance to say thank you on
that day, but I am yelling it right now.
Kuzma is a twenty-five-year veteran of the Winfield Township Police
Department. Twenty five years is a lot of memories. However,
it's quite probable that all of them were eclipsed by the vision of a
child's eyes opening after bringing her back to life.
Unbelievable Story. Awesome job Ptl. Kuzma.
Winfield Township Police Department's
Ptl. Walter J. Kuzma
HAVE SAVED YOU
At around 10:30 p.m. Trenton Police Officer Drew Astbury spotted a vehicle. It
fit the description of a vehicle possibly involved in weapons activity
provided earlier the same night by a tipster.
Ptl. Astbury ran the plate which turned out to be fictitious.
He and several other Trenton Police Officers then conducted a felony stop of the SUV.
They removed and cuffed four occupants without incident. A search of
the vehicle afterwards revealed the preverbal pot of gold.
Located in the vehicle were three semi-automatic handguns, a revolver, and
a Tec-9 machine gun with a defaced serial number and a large capacity
clip. Additionally, all of the weapons were loaded.
Ptl. Astbury and the backup officers, you quite possibly may have saved the life of a
brother or sister officer and quite probably saved the life of some convenience
store clerk or cab driver. Most certainly, the feeling of danger you
had when finding the vehicle and conducting the stop was one you will
never forget. Also most certainly, the high fives were flying when
you found those weapons. Awesome job, and thank you!
Trenton Police Department's
Police Officer Drew
The Other Officers on
LIFE OF 5-DAY-OLD
Last night (December 10, 2002) Ptl. Roy DiPietro of the Berkeley Township
Police Department was honored at a council meeting. In attendance
were more than the usual suspects. The plaque he was awarded was
given to him by the family of a 5-day-old infant. It was the same
infant that he had brought back to life several weeks earlier.
On November 3 at 3:30 p.m. Ptl. DiPietro was handling an unrelated call
when a vehicle pulled up to him. The driver started yelling that his
baby wasn't breathing. As he finished the last word, the baby's
mother came sprinting out of the car shouting that her baby was
dead. Although his heart must have been racing, Ptl. DiPietro didn't
hesitate for a moment.
The 25-year-veteran kept calm and took the baby. He found the infant
to be lifeless. She was turning blue and would not wake up.
Officer DiPietro began administering rescue breathing but had to be
extremely careful because the infant was so tiny. After a few
moments the baby began spitting up and eventually her normal breathing
"I was never as happy as the moment she started to breath
again," the mother said. The baby was rushed to the hospital
and has since been diagnosed with an apnea problem and now sleeps with a
monitor at home. "We'll never forget what he did for us,"
the mother added. Ptl. DiPietro later said, "I told mom and dad
that I want to be informed of everything she ever does," DiPietro
said. "I want to be part of her life."
The plaque that the family gave Ptl. DiPietro read simply, "You are a
Ptl. DiPietro, you are probably the only one of us, or at least one of a
very few, who has performed rescue breathing on a someone as young as
5-days-old. You obviously performed it perfectly. Cops and
robbers are great, but you have a family that will be indebted to you
forever. You brought back to life a 5-day-old little person.
It is an amazing story.
Berkeley Township Police Department's
Patrolman Roy DiPietro
CAMDEN COP SAVES
call came in at 3:38 in the morning on November 30th. Camden
Patrolman Miguel Gonzalez rushed to the scene and was the first to
arrive. The call was for a fire. Most of the time these calls
turn out to be nothing. Not this time.
When Ptl. Gonzalez arrived he found a working structure fire in
progress. Gonzalez rushed into the apartment complex to evacuate
residents. According to tenants, Ptl. Gonzalez had to shield himself
from flames in order to reach the doors of the sleeping occupants.
He ran though the hallway pounding on doors to wake them. When it
was over 12 units had been damaged or destroyed, and 22 families needed to
be relocated. It took six separate fire companies to bring the blaze
under control. Thanks to Ptl. Gonzalez, there will be no
funerals. All of the building's occupants made it out
The origin of the fire is unknown but labeled suspicious. At least
one report indicated that it was a caused by a
"fire-bombing." Investigation by arson experts is to
Many of the occupants described what they lost, but all of the occupants
expressed thanks that they and their families made it out alive.
Camden City Police Department's
Police Officer Miguel
Ptl. Miguel Gonzalez, your actions were far beyond bringing good press to
law enforcement. Your heroic acts most likely saved people's
lives. Awesome, awesome job.
Newark Police Officers Antonio Manata and Luis Silva were working a plain
clothes detail several Thursdays ago. At approximately 11:00 p.m. a
subject ran up to them and said he had just been robbed.
Both officers pursued the suspect. Officer Silva pursued on foot
while Officer Manata pursued in the vehicle.
Officer Manata caught up to the suspect who was now in the driveway of a
Clifton Avenue residence. It was far from over though. The
suspect came up with a handgun and pointed it at Officer Manata.
Manata fired twice striking the suspect both times in the chest.
Officers then summoned EMS to the scene to treat the suspect for his
When the officers went to secure the suspect's handgun they learned that
it was a replica of a silver handgun. The suspect was taken to
University Hospital where he was reportedly in stable condition.
Under the darkness of an hour before midnight Officer Antonio Manata had
no way of knowing that the gun wasn't real. If it was under the
daylight of an hour before noon, he still would not have been able to
distinguish the gun's authenticity.
Officer Manata, you might be playing out the would haves, could haves,
should haves, in your head. Bottom line, you did what every one of us
should do. The gun is always real. The threat is always real,
and the split second decision is always real. There is not one
officer in your brotherhood, not one member of your family, or one person
in your group of friends who would want you to have done anything
different. The situation was unfortunate, but it was not by your
hand. No officer should be weighing legal ramifications, lawsuits,
or a gun's authenticity out when faced with an armed person.
Newark Police Department's
Police Officer Antonio
Officer Manata, you have distinguished yourself and have been where most of us hope we will never
go. You apprehended a felon who makes his living by violently
preying off the weak. The days ahead might be
somewhat difficult. Make use of the many resources that are
available to you.
It was about 7:30 p.m. Ptl. Joe Athey of the Magnolia Borough Police
Department was on his meal break at, where any good Magnolia Officer would
eat, the Magnolia Diner.
Suddenly, screams of panic filled the restaurant. "Oh my God!,
Oh my God!" Ptl. Athey turned around and saw a panic stricken family
all focusing on their one-year-old infant. The child wasn't
breathing and was turning blue.
Ptl. Athey ran over and grabbed the child from the family. In his
initial assessment, he saw that the baby had completely stopped
breathing. He was getting no air. Ptl. Athey immediately began
administering first-aid. It took a few moments, but Ptl. Athey
restored the infant's breathing. Magnolia Ambulance arrived, and the
baby was rushed to JFK Hospital in Stratford. A nurse later said
that that the child would have died if not for Ptl. Athey. Ptl.
Athey and the first aid squad also had to treat the child's grandmother
In a telephone interview, Officer Murphy Coleman of Magnolia PD told
NJLawman.com, that calls from print and television media have been coming
in requesting interviews with the officer. "All
he cares about is the baby. Joe is awesome. He's just
awesome. He is so humble about it. That's what we like about
Ptl. Athey, there are many things we may do in the course of a day. There aren't
too many more important than bringing a dying infant back to life.
Joe, awesome job!
Magnolia Police Department's
Patrolman Joe Athey
HOLLY PD'S PTL. O'HARE
UP HOME INVASION
WINS GUN BATTLE
Last Friday, November 1, 2002, Police Officer Raymond O'Hare was on patrol
As Ptl. O'Hare pulled up, he observed the two actors running from
the residence. Alone, he immediately and bravely gave chase.
While in foot pursuit, one of the subjects began firing upon O'Hare.
O'Hare fired back striking the shooter in the abdomen. The wounded
gunman continued to run but eventually got stuck in a muddy creek.
O'Hare and other officers then apprehended him.
The other fleeing subject was apprehended some time later by another Mount
At the time of this incident, the shooter, Darnell Cleveland, 33, was
already out on $150,000 bail for a previous home invasion where he pointed
a gun at a police officer. In that incident, his accomplice died
after exchanging gunfire with Camden Police. For this incident his
bail was $500,000. (Jeers to judge who gave only $150,000 bail for
the first offense and more jeers to the absolutely irresponsible judge who
allowed any bail for this dangerous animal for this offense)
Officer Raymond O'Hare, you have been where most of us hope we will never
go, and you won. We salute you. The days ahead might be
somewhat difficult. Make use of the many resources that are
available to you.
Mount Holly Police Department's
Police Officer Raymond
November 1, 2002
DRAGGED BY CAR
Washington Township Officers spotted a car that had been stolen about
three hours earlier parked on the side of the road. Ptl. Jason
Player and several other officers set up on the vehicle and watched.
Some time after 1:30 in the afternoon the officers spotted a subject walking up
climbing into the car.
Officer Player and Detective Lou Brecht
approached and ordered the man to exit the car. Ignoring police
commands, he started the car. Officer Player reached inside to
grab the keys when the driver put the car in gear and hit the accelerator.
Instead of getting the keys, Officer Player was now holding on for his
Police later estimate that Officer Player was dragged between 300 and 400
feet. Somehow, some way, while holding on to the the moving car, Ptl.
Jason Player was able to reach down to his holster and withdraw his 9 mm
service weapon. Officer Player fired one shot striking the suspect
in the chest. This resulted in the speeding car crashing into a
The suspect was then placed under arrest by other officers. Officer Player
was taken to Kennedy Memorial Hospital where he was treated for various
injuries to his arms and elbows.
Ptl. Jason Player, NJLawman.com honors you for your bravery, your courage
under fire, and the fact that you never gave up. NJLawman honors
Washington Township Police
Ptl. Jason Player
October 26, 2002
He wasn't even working. Det. Lamont Burr of the Essex
County Sheriff's Department was on his way home from a church meeting when
he saw a teenage girl in the street and screaming frantically. He
then saw that she was holding a limp toddler. Burr stopped and approached.
Suddenly, that detested but required one day a year where we make jokes
and perform CPR on ill-dressed mannequins mattered. The baby was
Blood was trickling from the baby's mouth when Burr took him. Also,
the baby's complexion was blue. Burr began administering CPR to the
18-month-old. Suspecting that the blue complexion was caused by
choking, Burr also tried to clear the airway of the toddler. After
was must have seemed like an eternity to Burr, the baby began
Medical personnel arrived, and the infant was rushed to University
Hospital in Newark. As of last evening the infant had been admitted
but was in stable condition. It was eventually determined that the
infant had been choking after taking a bite of a baloney sandwich.
Detective Burr, a seven-year veteran of the Essex County Sheriff's
Department, was later commended in a newspaper article by Essex County
Sheriff Armando Fontoura, and rightfully so.
There are many things we may do in the course of a day. There aren't
too many more important than bringing a dying infant back to life.
Det. Burr, amazing job!
Essex County Sheriff's Department’s
Detective Lamont Burr
October 12, 2002
A MIDNIGHT SHIFT
At 3:40 a.m. the only things usually moving are bread trucks and the
newspapers guys. On Saturday, October 12th, however, a stop for a
traffic violation by Voorhees Police revealed a guest to the early morning
hours. The occupants of the vehicle had apparently just been
involved in a burglary in nearby Berlin Borough. The stop was
quickly interrupted by the vehicle suddenly speeding away from the
Ptl. Daniel Stark of the Voorhees Township Police Department, the
officer who had made the stop, immediately gave chase. He was
joined in the pursuit by Ptl. Brian Bonsall.
The chase ended some time later when the driver of the fleeing vehicle
lost control. If a pursuit followed by a serious accident wasn't
enough for these officers, it had just gotten worse. In the crash,
the vehicle flipped over twice landing on its roof. Flames began
shooting up from the undercarriage of the car. Now with the vehicle
on its roof, the passengers trapped, and car on fire, the officers changed
from pursuers to rescuers. Braving the fire, and the possibility of
explosion, Ptl. Daniel Star and Brian Bonsall pulled the vehicle's two
occupants out to safety. Subsequently, they were even able to
extinguish the fire.
Both officers escaped without injury, and thanks to the officers' actions
both of the vehicle's occupants survived although they were sent to a
local hospital. The occupants were both committed in default of bail
for the various charges, and the charges pertaining to the earlier
burglary are pending.
Voorhees Township Police Department’s
Ptl. Daniel Star
Ptl. Brian Bonsall
Quite an evening for you both. A stop, a pursuit, a major accident
with a rollover, and having to pull two trapped people from a burning car
all in one call. Go get some sleep. Great job guys.
August 24, 2002
HARBOR PD's PTL.
He was patrolling the Black Horse Pike when he spotted a vehicle with a
minor equipment violation. Quick stop, and he'd be onto the next
one, or so he thought.
Ptl. Richard Cavanaugh of the Egg Harbor Township Police Department
stopped the vehicle just before 9:00 p.m. on July 29th. The stop actually
occurred in a gas station, and the driver was already out of the
car. The driver explained that his credentials were in the glove
compartment. He went around and accessed the glove compartment
through the passenger side door. Ptl. Cavanaugh followed and stood
guard while the driver rummaged through the mess. Cavanaugh began
writing down the driver's information.
Then, out of nowhere, the driver blasted Ptl. Cavanaugh in the face with
his fist. Taking advantage of his element of surprise, the driver
followed with a second blow to Cavanaugh's face. Continuing his
attack, the driver then went for Ptl. Cavanaugh's gun. Cavanaugh
held on, backed away, and dropped to the ground. He might have been
down, but he was certainly not out.
The driver began kicking the downed officer. Suddenly, the
driver produced an 8 1/2 inch knife. Ptl. Cavanaugh didn't
hesitate. He immediately brought out his weapon and fired two shots
at the subject striking him once. At this point Ptl. Cavanaugh was
able to call for backup despite his injuries from the vicious
attack. You can guess what happened next. Every officer from
every surrounding town in earshot of the "Officer Needs Assistance"
call raced to the scene to help their brother officer.
The officer was taken to Atlantic City Medical Center and has since been
Ptl. Cavanaugh, your actions were tremendous. You held on and kept the
"I'll Win!" mindset. Be sure to make use of the resources
available to you. NJLawman honors
Egg Harbor Township Police Department’s
Ptl. Richard Cavanaugh
August 13, 2002
PD'S SGT. KUMMER
It was hot Monday afternoon shift in August. With the weekend over
things should be pretty quiet, or at least one would hope.
Before coming to work on August 12, 2002, Sgt. Steven Kummer of the 60
officer Deptford Police Department in Gloucester County presumably said
goodbye to his wife and three children before heading off to work.
He got the squad ready and onto the road. In a telephone interview Captain John Marolt of Deptford Police Department gave
rest of the story.
At about 4:40 p.m. Sgt. Kummer was on patrol when he came across a
pursuit. A police officer from Wenonah Borough was attempting to
stop a vehicle for having improper license plates. Sgt. Kummer
jumped in to assist.
The fleeing vehicle crashed, and the driver took off on foot. Both
the Wenonah Officer and Sgt. Kummer gave chase. The officers split
up during the foot pursuit to search for the suspect, and Sgt. Kummer
ended up in Building C of the Wenonah Garden Apartments when he came face
to face with the suspect. They were in a dark, narrow, stairwell
entrance to the apartment building.
Sgt. Kummer tried to take the man into custody, but he violently
resisted. The struggle took all of Kummer's strength, so he couldn't
get to his portable to call for backup. As bad as this was, it was
about to get even worse.
All of a sudden the suspect came up with a semiautomatic pistol in his
hand. Sgt. Kummer reached for his holster to grab his weapon.
It wasn't there. Somehow, the suspect got Sgt. Kummer's
gun. The struggle continued, and the suspect got a shot off, but it
hit the floor. The suspect was able to reposition himself up several of
the stairs during the fight giving him the height advantage. He then
pointed the gun point blank at Sgt. Kummer's head and fired. At the
same exact instant Sgt. Kummer pushed the suspect's hand just enough to
avoid taking a round in the face. Unfortunately, the bullet did
strike Kummer in the ear taking part of his ear off.
The suspect thought he had killed Sgt. Kummer, and he fled. Backup
officers arrived, and Kummer was rushed to Cooper
Hospital/University Medical Center in Camden.
An army of area police officers and prosecutor's office detectives
conducted a five hour search for the suspect, but at this point he is
still at large. Any information released as to the identity or
description of the suspect will posted on NJLawman's main page. Sgt.
Kummer was treated for his injuries and his since been
According to Captain Marolt, 35-year-old Sgt. Kummer is highly skilled in
tactics. He has attended many schools including Street
Survival. Capt. Marolt credits Sgt. Kummer's instincts, training,
and experience for saving his life. Deptford Police Officers carry
the .40 caliber Glock 23 which holds 13 and 1, and their weapons are
secured in Safariland Security Holsters. Captain Marolt said that
the suspect either knew how to disarm police officers or was incredibly
lucky because their holsters are very secure.
Deptford PD has arranged for Post Incident Counseling for Sgt.
Sgt. Steven Kummer, your actions were nothing less than heroic. You
faced the biggest fear of every law enforcement officer in the country,
and you won. You have set the example for us all, and your story
should be told at every in-service training session across the nation.
Deptford Township Police Department’s
Sgt. Steven Kummer
August 12, 2002
On Saturday, August 10, 2002 at 7:22 p.m. Jersey City Officers Michael
Cervino and Michael Dillon were on Bergen Avenue when they heard a boy
screaming, "get this dog. It's gonna bite me!" The
boy was on a bicycle and behind him was a pursuing pit bull.
The officers could see foam frothing from the dog's mouth as he was
chasing and barking at the little boy. Putting themselves in danger
of attack, the officers immediately jumped out of their patrol car to save
boy. They tried to grab him off the bicycle and drag him into the
safety of the patrol car, but this would not be the case.
Before the Officers Cervino and Dillon could get the boy into the patrol
car, the dog attacked. He rushed right for the little boy.
Officer Cervino quickly fire two shots at the dog. One shot missed,
but the other struck the dog in the face causing him to
The boy was secured and escaped the incident without injury thanks to the
officers' quick actions. The dog was tracked a short distance away
where he was sitting under a vehicle. With the help of animal
control the dog was secured and taken to a veterinarian.
For any officers who haven't been in a situation of having to handle and
fire upon an attacking dog, it is not very different from handling a man
wielding a knife. Dogs, especially pit bulls, can close the distance
in seconds and cause life changing injuries if not death. These
situations are extremely frightening. In a fraction of a second, you
had better either hit your target or get mauled. These officers did an
excellent job and were no doubt a bit shaken up after the incident.
According to reports, a routine Internal Affairs Investigation will follow
as in the case with all officer-involved shootings. By all accounts,
these officers' actions did nothing less than save the life of a
7-year-old little boy. Let's get this IA done with quickly so these
officers can be honored for their brave actions.
Jersey City Police Department’s
Police Officer Michael
Police Officer Michael
July 31, 2002
AND BURDGE BRING
BACK FROM NEAR DEATH
Over the radio the call came in: A seven-year-old boy who was unconscious
and unresponsive. Freehold Township Police Officers William Holohan
and James B. Burdge responded and arrived at the residence within sixty
seconds of the call.
The boy had been in the back yard playing in the pool. Apparently,
he dove into the water and struck his head on the bottom.
When the officers arrived, they found the frantic mother administering
CPR. The officers took over and provided CPR and other first
aid. They also coordinated the response of EMS. Police
Officers Holohan and Burdge continued providing CPR until the arrival of
the Freehold First Aid Squad. The boy was then rushed Jersey Shore
Medical Center, a Trauma Center located in Neptune, New Jersey. The
boy was released from the hospital several days after the incident and
appears to be fine.
Freehold Township Police Department’s
Police Officer William
Police Officer James
Extraordinary accomplishments like
yours might not make CNN, but they are appreciated by your fellow officers
and, undoubtedly, the family of the injured boy. Nice job.
OFFICERS WALL AND
So, the Saturday midnight shift is winding down. Your all coffeed
(if that's a word) out and glancing at your vehicle's dashboard clock
every five minutes just waiting for it to strike seven so you can get home
and crash. Not today. At five minutes to six the radio breaks
the silence. Your heart rate jumps fifty beats from the dispatcher's
words. An armed and despondent man is threatening suicide. He
also says that he wants to shoot it out with police.
On Sunday morning, July 21st this scenario was lived out by Edison
Township Police Officers Thomas Wall and Michael Mintchwarner. The
two officers responded to Plainfield Avenue for the call. What they
found added a few more beats. Standing in the back yard was a man
wearing full camos covered by a military issued camouflage flak
jacket. Tucked into his waistline was a Glock .40 caliber pistol,
and in his hands was a camouflage 12-gauge Mossberg pump-action shotgun
complete with finger on trigger. There was no helicopter, no SWAT team,
and no professional negotiator. It was up to these
With weapons drawn, the officers began talking with the man according to Edison
Police Officer Michael Cimmino. Initially, he asked them to shoot
him. He reasoned that it would help him. Mintchwarner and Wall
continued the negotiation to calm him. They also enlisted the
assistance of the man's father.
After a lengthy dialogue, Officers Mintchwarner and Wall convinced him to
surrender. The officers placed him under arrest and seized the
weapons and bullet proof vest without incident. He was charged with
weapons offenses and for the bullet proof vest.
If these officers hadn't acted the way they did, you might have first
heard about this incident on CNN with helicopter footage from above and a
casualty toll scrolling across the bottom of the screen.
Edison Township Police
Ptl. Thomas Wall
GUN BATTLE WITH
It was about 2:20 in the morning
on June 30th when Sgt. Darrell White and Detective Johnny Whitaker of the
Newark Police Department were driving in the area of West Market and
Hartford streets when they noticed a crowd. They stopped and someone
from the crowed yelled, "The guy in the red Cadillac's got a
The officers watched the car as it
began to leave but then returned. Sgt. White and Det. Whitaker
approached the vehicle which had three occupants. Suddenly, the
driver began shooting at both officers. Sgt. White and Det. Whitaker
returned fire. After about thirty guns shots were exchanged, the car
took off frot. Whitaker
approached the vehicle which had three occupants. Suddenly, the
driver began shooting at both officers. Sgt. White and Det. Whitaker
returned fire. After about thirty guns shots were exchanged, the car
took off from the scene. The officers pursued the vehicle for a few
blocks to University Hospital in Newark. Two of the occupants,
including the driver, were caught by the two officers as they ran into the
emergency room of the hospital. The third subject fled and is still
The two subjects who were
apprehended are currently in jail while the investigation continues as to
the identity of the third man. Both of these men have criminal
histories including firearms convictions.
Most importantly, both officers
escaped uninjured, at least physically.
Newark Police Department’s
Sergeant Darrell White
We hope that you're both
okay. Be sure to make use of all the resources available to
FROM NEAR DEATH
Lakewood Township Police Captain
Fred Capper was driving around town, presumably taking care of
Captain-type things, at around 2:00 p.m. on June 24. Police Officer Robert
Desimone was also on the road on this Monday afternoon. Then, it happened.
Over the radio came a call that makes your heart drop and hands shake; a
report of a young boy drowning in a lake.
Captain Capper arrived at Lake
Shenandoah and was directed to the area by witnesses. The boy was
submerged somewhere under the murky water. In full uniform Capper, who
happens to be a member of the dive team, dove in and began searching.
Officer Desimone did the same when he arrived. After a frantic search the
boy was found and brought to the surface. With the help of bystander
Tyrone Jones who helped secure a rope to pull the trio from the water, the
boy was pulled from the lake. However, the ordeal was far from over.
The boy was unconscious. He was
unresponsive. There was no breathing, and there was no pulse. The officers
began doing CPR and were joined by EMS personnel. By the time the boy was
put in an ambulance for the trip to Kimball Medical Center, there was a
As of Tuesday, the boy was still
alive in the pediatric intensive care unit at Monmouth Medical Center. We
pray for his full recovery.
Lakewood Township Police Department’s
Captain Fred Capper
Police Officer Robert
Very dramatic and heroic guys.
There is surely a family that will forever be in your debt.
June 14, 2002
OF THE YEAR
In a ceremony held on
June 3, 2002 Ptl. Christopher Colaner of the Freehold Borough Police
Department received one of the highest honors a New Jersey officer can
achieve. Ptl. Colaner accepted the “Shield Award” as Officer of the
Year from the New Jersey State Knights of Columbus.
The New Jersey State
Knights of Columbus obtained nominations for “Officer of the Year”
from each of its 300 councils statewide. From those nominations, only one
officer was chosen to receive the distinguished award.
In the same year
Officer Colaner received numerous letters of commendation from citizens
and superiors alike, departmental commendations for distinguished service,
meritorious service and a department citation for excellent police work.
He also received the “Stork Pin” for delivering a healthy baby.
Colaner is also expected to be given several awards for his actions this
One of those actions includes the
peaceful resolution of an incident where a wanted subject tried to provoke
Colaner into shooting him in a failed suicide by cop attempt.
Ptl. Colaner, who is also the
President of PBA Local #159, serves on the Freehold Borough / Freehold
Township Joint Investigation Unit, the Bike Patrol Unit, and will soon be
heading up a brand new unit labeled the Special Services Unit.
“Chris Colaner is
very deserving of this award,” said Sgt. Andrew DeMuth, Ptl. Colaner’s
supervisor. “He is a truly unique police officer in that he is so well
balanced. On one day he’ll be organizing the extremely large and
successful Santa Train event which he has done for five years now. The
next day he’ll be bringing someone in on a fugitive warrant who had ten
bags of crack in his pocket. He is also very proactive with ideas to
better the department and the town.”
most important idea Patrolman Colaner has developed, planned and
implemented as part of our community policing effort" Chief of Police
Michael Beierschmitt said, "is the Cops and Resident Enforcement
zone." (CARE) Beierschmitt said Colaner has worked closely with
residents to improve their neighborhoods, specifically by painting curbs,
trimming trees and improving lighting in certain areas.
In receiving this
award Colaner said, "It’s very rewarding to receive an award for
doing your daily police work, but it’s important to know that this is
all a team effort. Without the assistance of Chief Beierschmitt and the
administration, as well as all my fellow officers and the support of the
residents of the town, this would never happen. It’s important to be in
this work together. Certain things cannot be accomplished without asking
for assistance from others."
NJLawman is proud to
Borough Police Department’s
...for his work and for being recognized as Police Officer of the Year.
June 12, 2002
VALE COPS RISK
TO SAVE MAN
By PETER POCHNA Staff Writer
VALE - Responding to a report of a car crash early Tuesday, a trio of
police officers found a man unconscious and trapped inside a burning
Using extinguishers that neighbors
had fetched from their homes, the officers tried to douse the blaze. But
the flames kept inching their way toward the man, whose leg was pinned
beneath the dashboard. With seconds to spare, the officers grabbed a
pry bar from one of their vehicles and went to work.
"They were pretty frightened
because at first they couldn't get him free," said River Vale Lt.
Michael McCann. But after struggling for a couple of minutes, they
were able to lift the dashboard just enough to free his leg and carry the
man to safety.
As they did, McCann said, the flames
reached the passenger seat, eventually destroying the car.
"Without a doubt their actions saved his life,'' McCann said.
Erik Lang, 20, of Paramus, who was
pinned in the passenger seat of the Chevrolet Z28, was listed in fair
condition Tuesday afternoon at Hackensack University Medical Center. The
designation means his vital signs were stable and that he was conscious,
although somewhat uncomfortable.
"It's amazing that he's OK,''
said Evelyn Personeus, a registered nurse who lives near the crash site
and ran to the car after dialing 911. "I thought he was gone.''
The driver, Christopher Rivera, 19,
of Dumont, was in stable condition at Pascack Valley Hospital. His
injuries were less severe, authorities said. "Prayer saved
him,'' Rivera said of his friend, declining to discuss the crash further.
Police received several 9-1-1 calls
at 12:30 a.m., McCann said. The Chevy had been heading southbound on Cedar
Lane near St. Anthony's Cemetery when it hit a tree on the passenger side
and spun around, he said.
River Vale Officers Dino Dinelli and
Nevin Mattessich raced to the scene and were joined there by Westwood
Officer James Quaglino. They found Rivera outside the car screaming for
help and Lang trapped inside.
Personeus was in the vehicle, as
well, making sure that Lang's head was in a position so that he could
breathe. She had been working on a computer in her house when she heard
the car hit the tree.
"It was really, really awful,''
said Personeus, who works at SunBridge Care and Rehabilitation Center in
Oradell. "He had his seat belt on but he was in a bad position.''
A minute or two after the officers
arrived, and with the Fire Department still minutes away, the engine
caught fire, McCann said. The officers screamed at Personeus to get
out of the car and tried to douse the flames, with little success. Then
they pulled out the pry bar.
The road was closed for nearly 10
hours as investigators tried to determine the accident's cause.
"We believe it was caused by excessive speed,'' said Bergen County
Assistant Prosecutor John Higgins. "The question is how excessive was
it.'' He said it does not appear that drugs or alcohol were
involved. Authorities will determine in the next few days whether to
bring charges against Rivera, he said.
Personeus said crashes are common on
that section of Cedar Lane, which has a posted 35 mph speed limit.
"There's a curve that's tough to see, and people who don't know the
road have trouble,'' she said. "But this is the worst I've seen.''
Vale Police Department's
Officer Dino Dinell
Officer Nevin Mattessich
Officer James Quaglino
Unbelievable job guys! Your bravery gives us all something to
June 7, 2002
It was about six in the morning on Saturday, June 1 when Gina Pachkowski
felt gas coming on. Soon after though, she realized it wasn't gas:
She was going into labor.
Her husband Paul contacted dialed 9-1-1, and they waited. What they
didn't know was that the first responder that would soon meet them at the
door most likely leads the New Jersey law enforcement community, if not
the national law enforcement community, in delivering babies.
Police Officer Paul Cymbaluk, a 27-year-veteran of the Cranford Police
Department had already delivered or assisted in delivering three babies
during his career.
It wasn't long after his arrival at the residence that he delivered the
infant. He even overcame the complication of the infant's umbilical
chord being wrapped around his neck. The parents named him Luke
The accomplishment was depicted in a large article in the Newark Star
Officer Paul Cymbaluk
the Cranford Police Department for his extraordinary record and for
bringing positive public recognition to the New Jersey law enforcement
UNION CITY OFFICERS
SURVIVE ASSAULT, PURSUIT,
CITY - In the early morning hours of April 28th, officers from the Union
City Police Department spotted a vehicle that was suspected of being the
getaway car used in a shooting on Seventh Street and New York
Avenue. When officers signaled the vehicle to stop, the pursuit
At some point during the pursuit, the driver of the fleeing vehicle tried
to run Detective Sergeant Emilio Gonzalez and Detective Jose Diaz over
with their car. Both suffered minor injuries as a result of that
While details are somewhat unclear, the pursuit continued until the
vehicle crashed on Manhattan Avenue. Detective Sergeant Gonzalez,
and Detectives Jose Diaz, Joe Belgiovene and Pete Manero gave chase
to the occupants who were now fleeing on foot. During the foot
pursuit the occupants opened fire on the officers who took cover and fired
back. The shooters fired "numerous rounds" at the officers
according to police.
To date, three of the four shooters have been located and
NJLawman recognizes the following four officers from the Union City Police
Department for their bravery and courage under fire: