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 Top Cops Archives


January 29, 2003






       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!


NJLawman honors...

New Jersey State Police's

Trooper Daniel Ellington


January 28, 2003





       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 kitchen.


       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 out.


       Here is where Princeton Township Police Officers Sgt. Judd Petrone, Officer Fred Williams, Officer Harry Martinez, and Officer Christopher King arrived.


       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!


       NJLawman honors...

Princeton Township Police Department's

Sergeant Judd Petrone

Patrolman Fred Williams

Patrolman Harry Martinez

Patrolman Christopher King


       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). 



January 21, 2003






       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 extra pressure.  


       NJLawman honors

Newark Police Department's

Police Officer William Golpe

Police Officer Gene Vecchione

       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.  



January 17, 2003




       It 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 deaf.


       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.  NJLawman honors...

Magnolia Police Department's

Sergeant John Kirkbride

Patrolman Tom Picou


       Great job guys!




January 7, 2003




       Three 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 given.  


       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 Raynor


       There is not much more that can be said that you guys didn't say with your actions.  You are truly heroes.  



January 7, 2003




       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 second."  


       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.


NJLawman honors

Winfield Township Police Department's

Ptl. Walter J. Kuzma Jr.



January 2, 2003





       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!


       NJLawman honors

Trenton Police Department's

Police Officer Drew Astbury

The Other Officers on his Squad



December 11, 2002






       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 resumed.  


       "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 true hero." 


       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.


NJLawman honors

Berkeley Township Police Department's

Patrolman Roy DiPietro



December 1, 2002




       The 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 alive.  


       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 continue.  


        Many of the occupants described what they lost, but all of the occupants expressed thanks that they and their families made it out alive.


NJLawman honors

Camden City Police Department's

Police Officer Miguel Gonzalez


       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.  



November 14, 2002




       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 injuries.


       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.  


NJLawman honors

Newark Police Department's

Police Officer Antonio Manata


       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.



November 4, 2002





       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 for panic.


       In a telephone interview, Officer Murphy Coleman of Magnolia PD told, 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 him."


       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!


       NJLawman honors


Magnolia Police Department's

Patrolman Joe Athey



November 3, 2002





     Last Friday, November 1, 2002, Police Officer Raymond O'Hare was on patrol at


       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 Holly Officer.  


       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.


       NJLawman honors


Mount Holly Police Department's

Police Officer Raymond O'Hare



Friday, November 1, 2002





     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 and 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 life.


       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 parked vehicle. 


       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, honors you for your bravery, your courage under fire, and the fact that you never gave up.  NJLawman honors


Washington Township Police Department's

Ptl. Jason Player



Saturday, 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 unresponsive.


       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 crying.  


       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!


       NJLawman honors...


Essex County Sheriff's Department’s

Detective Lamont Burr



Saturday, October 12, 2002






       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 officer.


       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. 


       NJLawman recognizes


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.



Saturday, August 24, 2002





       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 released.  


       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


Tuesday, August 13, 2002





       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 NJLawman the 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 released.  


       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. Kummer.  


       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.


NJLawman honors


Deptford Township Police Department’s

Sgt. Steven Kummer




Monday, 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 retreat.  


       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.


NJLawman recognizes


Jersey City Police Department’s

Police Officer Michael Cervino

Police Officer Michael Dillon


Great job guys!



Wednesday, July 31, 2002





       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.

       NJLawman sites

Freehold Township Police Department’s

Police Officer William Holohan

Police Officer James B. Burdge

       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.






       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 officers.   


       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.  


       NJLawman honors

Edison Township Police Department's

Ptl. Michael Mintchwarner

Ptl. Thomas Wall

Nice job guys.  





       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 gun!"

       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 at large.  

       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.  

       NJLawman sites...

Newark Police Department’s

Sergeant Darrell White

Detective Johnny Whitaker

       We hope that you're both okay.  Be sure to make use of all the resources available to you.  





       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 faint pulse.

       As of Tuesday, the boy was still alive in the pediatric intensive care unit at Monmouth Medical Center. We pray for his full recovery.

       NJLawman honors...

Lakewood Township Police Department’s

Captain Fred Capper

Police Officer Robert Desimone

       Very dramatic and heroic guys. There is surely a family that will forever be in your debt.



Friday, June 14, 2002





       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 year.

       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.”

       "Perhaps the 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 acknowledge…

 Freehold Borough Police Department’s


Ptl. Christopher Colaner

...for his work and for being recognized as Police Officer of the Year.


Wednesday, June 12, 2002





By PETER POCHNA  Staff Writer


RIVER 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 vehicle.

       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.''


       NJLawman honors


River Vale Police Department's 

Police Officer Dino Dinell

Police Officer Nevin Mattessich


Westwood Police Department's

Police Officer James Quaglino


       Unbelievable job guys!  Your bravery gives us all something to aspire to.



Friday, 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 Andrew.


       The accomplishment was depicted in a large article in the Newark Star Ledger.  



Police Officer Paul Cymbaluk 



of the Cranford Police Department for his extraordinary record and for bringing positive public recognition to the New Jersey law enforcement community.  


Thursday, May 23, 2002






UNION 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 began.  


       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 assault.


       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 arrested.  


       NJLawman recognizes the following four officers from the Union City Police Department for their bravery and courage under fire:


Detective Sergeant Gonzalez

Detective Jose Diaz

Detective Joe Belgiovene

Detective Pete Manero