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October 6, 2004





On September 19, 2004 Patrolman Ted Wittke Jr. of the Hazlet Township Police Department stopped



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 a vehicle containing three people for running a stop sign.  It was just after midnight.

As he was approaching the driver side window he observed the rear seat passenger furtively stuffing something in his left pant pocket.

After receiving the credentials from the driver for the vehicle he asked the rear seat passenger to show him his hands to which he did not listen until he firmly order him to do so. He asked the rear passenger what he was stuffing in his pocket to which he stated "nothing officer, I was just adjusting this knife." With this the rear passenger held up his hands showing Patrolman Wittke a black and silver folding knife which was approximately 8" in length that Wittke took control of from the rear passenger.

By this time Patrolman Wittke was joined by Patrolman Vincent Quinn who took a position along the passenger side of the vehicle. Patrolman Quinn immediately noticed and advised Officer Wittke that a cigar wrapped up in a manner commonly used to smoke marijuana also known as a blunt was on the seat besides the rear passenger.

A subsequent search revealed marijuana and crack cocaine.  The rear seat passenger Romelo Santana admitted ownership of the CDS and was arrested. 

At headquarters Santana provided a date of birth and indicated that he had been born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. A check with the DMV for any prior history proved negative in locating any. Wittke then ran Santana through the AFIS system to which there was still no record for Santana.

Wittke then completed the necessary paperwork and was about to release Santana until he asked Santana for his social security number to which he provided one that began with the numbers 346-. Wittke realized that if Santana was truly born in New Jersey that his social security number would have started with the number 1. After asking Santana several times as to where he was born and getting the same answer, Ptl. Wittke faxed Santana's fingerprints to the FBI.

After about thirty minutes a reply came back indicating that Santana was not really Santana but that he was indeed Michael Tyrell Watkins.

Watkins was a wanted fugitive out of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina for resisting arrest and shooting a police officer at close range.

Talk about being on your game!

There is no greater arrest than that of someone who shoots a cop.  Officers Wittke and Quinn, you might as well wrap up your careers now, because you will never beat this one.

Seriously, the entire law enforcement community is indebted to you.  Most certainly, an officer in North Carolina will keep you both in his prayers for the rest of his life. 

Not only did you bring this excrement to justice, you very possibly saved the life of another officer.

Patrolman Ted Wittke Jr. and Patrolman Vincent Quinn, lauds you both for your excellent, excellent work. honors...

Hazlet Township Police Department's 

Patrolman Ted Wittke Jr.

Patrolman Vincent Quinn




July 14, 2004






You're on patrol when a report of a structure fire comes over the radio.  You go.

You arrive to find smoke and flames coming from an auto repair shop.  Inside, screams.

Jersey City Police Officer Mark Dippel faced this exact situation on July 1 of this year.

It was just after 2:00 p.m. when the incident occurred.  After assessing the situation, Officer Dippel ran into the building by himself.  Inside, he found it to be pitch black with smoke.  His route of travel through the burning building was fed by the panicked screams of the man inside.

When he finally found him, the man's arms and chest were on fire.  Dippel grabbed him and made his way through the thick smoke and flames back out to safety.

The man was airlifted to the burn unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston after Officer Mark Dippel pulled him from the burning structure.

It would take two more hours for the Fire Department to contain the fire.  Much of the shop and the cars inside had been incinerated.  Additionally, two mechanics, a fire fighter and Dippel had to be transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation or head exhaustion.

Officer Dippel was treated and released later in the evening.  He would later tell reporters from the Jersey Journal, " To someone on the outside, it may seem like a very big deal. I think anybody would do something like that."


It doesn't get too much more dramatic than running into a burning building and dragging a man on fire out to safety.  Unbelievable!

You are an inspiration to us all Officer Dippel. honors...


Jersey City Police Department's 

Police Officer Mark Dippel



June 23, 2004





A report of an unconscious person always gets the blood moving.  You never know what you will find.

On May 26th, 2004 Patrolman Dominick Brown and Patrolman Frank Olsen of the Runnemede Police Department responded to such a call.

Upon arrival on the scene, the officers found the victim lying on the ground next to his van.  A preliminary assessment of the gentleman revealed no signs of life.  For all intents and purposes, he was dead.

Ptl. Brown immediately began CPR.  At the same time, with the help of Ptl. Olsen, the AED unit was attached to the victim.  

The officers continued to administer CPR, and they administered a shock to the victim with the AED.  They continued with life saving efforts until Runnemede EMS arrived on the scene and took over.

When the ambulance left, the officers were left to themselves and their thoughts wondering as to the outcome.  Before too long, other calls came in, and the officers were on to the next one.

What a wonderful feeling it must have been for them when two days later they received a visit from a woman at the headquarters.  It turned out that she was the daughter of the fallen man.  

She went to see Officers Brown and Olsen to thank them.  She thanked them for saving her father's life.

There are many moments in a career.  For Officers Brown and Olsen, this would be, most certainly, one of them.

Thank you Sgt. William Geigelman for highlighting your officers' efforts. honors...


Runnemede Police Department's 

Patrolman Dominick Brown

Patrolman Frank Olsen



March 8, 2004





       On January 8, 2004 at approximately 9:17 p.m. Hazlet Township officers were dispatched to a report of an armed robbery that had occurred at a gas station.  A description of the suspect and vehicle was provided to responding officers.  Additionally, officers were informed that the actor might be armed with a sawed off shotgun.  


       Since other officers were already responding to the scene, Hazlet Patrolman Michael Tristao positioned himself at that the 117 entrance ramp of the Garden State Parkway.


       His gamble paid off.


       A vehicle matching the description approached the toll.  Officer Tristao pulled out from the shoulder and proceeded to fall behind the suspect's vehicle.  After confirming the description of the vehicle, Patrolman Tristao activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to effect a motor vehicle stop.  The vehicle sped up and continued North on the Garden State Parkway at a high rate of speed.  


       Officer Tristao continued behind the suspect while keeping his cool and informing his headquarters of the progress of the chase.  


       Patrolman Tristao was about to call the pursuit off because of the suspect's recklessness when, instead of passing an SUV,  the actor struck the SUV.  This caused the suspect's vehicle to flip over onto it's roof.


       After checking on the well being of the SUV occupants, Officer Tristao proceeded to the suspect vehicle using extreme caution and found the driver unconscious.  He immediately notified his headquarters of his location, which was in Perth Amboy, and that he needed medical assistance for the suspect.  Later, Officer Tristao would search the interior of the vehicle and find an eight inch knife duct taped to a long wooden rod made to look like a shotgun.  By this time, he was joined by Corporal George Menedez who located the proceeds of the robbery inside of the vehicle.  


       The suspect was transported to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital where he was treated and released back to the officers.


       After being transported back to headquarters, the actor admitted to Detective Sergeant Howard Nuss his role in the robbery in addition to three other robberies in Edison, Clark, and Hillside where he attempted to run over a police officer attempting to stop him during that incident.  


       There is nothing more stressful in law enforcement than a pursuit.  Hazlet Patrolman Michael Tristao clearly kept his cool.  He responded, pursued and apprehended a wanted, dangerous felon.  His actions were text book.  While not the initial officer, Corporal George Menedez was there, several towns away, to back up one of his partners.  Finally, the interview skills of Detective Sergeant Howard Nuss solved a series of robberies, one of which resulted in an attempted assault of a police officer.


       Nice job Hazlet.  Welcome to Top Cops. NJLawman honors...


Hazlet Township Police Department's 

Patrolman Michael Tristao

Corporal George Menedez

Detective Sergeant Howard Nuss



January 29, 2004






HOWELL - "Respond to the residence for a report of an unknown problem.  1740 hours."


       This kind of call is dispatched frequently.  Often, the cause is children playing with the phone or some other benign act.


       On Friday, December 24, 2003 this would not be the case for Patrolmen T.J. Hurley and Robert Hill of the Howell Police Department in Monmouth County.


       As the officers arrived at the residence they were greeted by dark smoke pouring out of the ridge vent of the roof of the house.  They approached the home and saw that black soot had already caked on the windows.  Instead of just rushing in, they kept their heads.  Officers Hurley and Hill first checked the front door.  This was fortunate.  The front door was hot from the flames behind it.  


       They then went around to the back.  Fearing there may be someone trapped inside, they entered the residence by breaking through a rear sliding door to conduct a search of the house or as much of a search as they could without breathing or fire protection apparatus.  


       As they searched through the smoke-filled rooms, they discovered an unconscious elderly woman on the floor of the kitchen.  Officers Hurley and Hill carried the woman out of the burning residence.  She had already inhaled a good amount of smoke.  The officers had to begin CPR.

They continued administering CPR until the Howell First Aid Squad arrived on the scene.  


       The woman was rushed to Centra State Medical Center.  Although she was listed in critical condition, she was alive.  This was clearly not be the case if not for the heroic actions of Howell Officers Hurley and Hill.   They entered a burning building, conducted a search through smoke darkened rooms, found an unconscious woman, carried her out of the house, and brought her back to life by administering CPR.  Also, it was later learned that the victim, 75, suffers from multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system, and lives alone.  Clearly, these officers were her only chance..


       For their actions, they both had to be taken to Central State Medical Center and treated for smoke inhalation.  


       These officers risked their own lives to save another.  Such heroism is bigger than the uniform.   Patrolman Hurley and Patrolman Hill are a credit to their department and to us as a whole.  You guys did an awesome job.


       NJLawman honors...


Howell Township Police Department's 

Patrolman T.J. Hurley

Patrolman Robert Hill



December 20, 2003





       A Monday midnight shift in December can be quite boring.  Often, the only are people around are the ones driving the same type car as you.  On December 1, though, a patrolman from the Hawthorne Police Department landed what will probably be the biggest arrest of his career.


       It was just after 1:00 a.m. when Hawthorne Patrolman Robert Finstra was engaged in his normal midnight shift routine. He was in the area of a 7-Eleven convenience store when he noticed a man walking in and out of the store.  The man was then pacing frantically in front of the building.


       Patrolman Finstra decided to check out this suspicious subject.  He approached to conduct an interview.  During the encounter Patrolman Finstra conducted a frisk of the man which revealed a crack pipe.  No problem.  Officer Finstra placed the man under arrest without incident.  He searched the subject and secured him in the rear of the patrol car.


       It was after the man had been placed in the patrol car when a dim light bulb went off in Patrolman Robert Finstra's head.  The officer had seen this man before but where?  Suddenly, the light bulb grew.  It kept growing.


       Officer Finstra recognized the subject from a photo he had seen back at headquarters.  The photograph was of a man suspected in robbing at least five different banks.  The arrestee was transported back to headquarters and a full investigation was launched.  Bam!  It was him.


       The FBI has taken over the case, and the man arrested by Patrolman Finstra was expected to be formally served with Federal bank robbery charges.


       This man was wanted in several different jurisdictions and by several local, state, and Federal agencies.  As what often occurs, it was the street cop doing good police work who took him down.


       Officer Robert Finstra, great job!    Your observations of the suspicious person are surpassed only by your intuition in putting him together with the photograph.  Who knows what you may have prevented.  We have yet another officer who can claim the title of having arrested a bank robber.  Again, great job!


       NJLawman honors...


Hawthorne Police Department's 

Patrolman Robert Finstra



December 10, 2003




       On our message boards the topic of getting involved in situations while off duty sometimes comes up.  Most agree that we need to take some kind of action when a situation involves violence and someone is in danger.  This, however, is easier said then done.


       On Monday, November 24, 2003 Newark Police Officer Tyrone Moore found himself in this position.


       Officer Moore was off duty in his personal vehicle.  While driving through a parking lot, he noticed a subject walking out of a Dunkin Donuts store on Court Street in Newark.  The man was carrying a cash register drawer in one hand and a large caliber handgun in the other.


       Using his cell phone, Officer Moore contacted police to report his observations and request on-duty officers to respond.  Moore began following the subject who ducked behind some bushes and began taking the cash from the register drawer.


       Police Officer Moore got out of his car, displayed his badge and identified himself as a police officer.  He ordered the subject to drop his weapon.  The subject ignored Moore's commands and opened fire on the off-duty officer.


       Officer Moore fired back.  The subject then took off on foot.  While running, he turned and fired on Officer Moore again.  Moore returned fire.  The chase continued for two blocks.  A second off duty officer, Anthony Maldonado who had heard the radio traffic responded to help his brother officer.  


       The two off duty officers hooked up and chased the subject into an apartment building on Washington Street.  The subject fired on the two off duty officers who returned fire.  Eventually, the officers cornered this fellow in a hallway.  He again raised his gun and pointed it at the officers.  Police Officer Maldonado fired at him again.  


       The subject then dropped his weapon and surrendered.  Other officers responded, and the subject was taken to the hospital.  He was charged with Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Resisting Arrest.


       Reading this piece will make most feel proud of Officers Moore and Maldonado as writing it did.  Officer Moore, you displayed incredible courage.  You could have easily looked the other way rather than confronting an armed robber.  Officer Maldonado, you heard a brother officer in need of help, and you didn't think twice before jumping in to help him.  You two guys exemplify courage and bravery.  You have both been combat tested and passed.  You two are truly top cops.



Newark Police Department's 

Police Officer Tyrone Moore

Police Officer Anthony Maldonado



December 5, 2003





       An elderly Morris County man was shopping in Pathmark in Hanover Township on Wednesday, November 26, the day before Thanksgiving.  


       At some point, he went down.  Witnesses, thinking he had taken a fall, contacted store personnel who in turn called for emergency services to respond.  


       Ptl. John Schauder of the Hanover Township Police Department was the first to arrive.  After just seconds on the scene, Officer Schauder realized that this was not just a fall victim.  He assessed the patient and determined that the man had no pulse and was not breathing.  He advised other units of his situation and began administering CPR.


       Moments later, Ptl. Paul Gundersdorf arrived at the scene.  Officer Gundersdorf brought the agency's AED or Automated External Defibrillator.  The AED is a device which in certain situations will administer a shock to the heart of a patient who is in cardiac arrest.


       The officers connected the AED device to the victim.  It gave a shock signal and administered a shock.  Nothing.  The officers continued CPR and tried again.  


       This continued, and the man was shocked several times.  Ptl. Richard Duda arrived at the scene and took over the exhausting task of CPR.  


       By the time that members of the Cedar Knolls First Aid Squad arrived, the gentleman was breathing again and had a strong pulse.  


       Simply, he had been brought back to life by these three police officers.


       Officers Gundersdorf, Schauder, and Duda, you didn't just bring a man back to life.  You brought someone's dad, someone's loved one, and someone's friend back to life.  Despite what it shown on television, CPR saves are few and far between.  Your skills and actions are a credit to you and to the Hanover Township Police Department as demonstrated by the fact that Sgt. James Peslis of your agency submitted your names for this award.



Hanover Township Police Department's 

Ptl. John Schauder

Ptl. Paul Gundersdorf

Ptl. Richard Duda



December 2, 2003





       In the course of a career not many officers will be able to say that they apprehended a bank robber.  On Tuesday, November 18, 2003 two officers from the Stratford Police Department joined that elite group.


       The call went out shortly before 1:30 p.m.  According to employees of the Commerce Bank branch on the White Horse Pike, a man entered the bank and approached a teller.  He held his hand under his sweater as if he had a gun.  He ordered the teller to give him cash.  The teller complied, and he ran out of the bank with an undetermined amount of loot.


       Officers from the Stratford Police Department began arriving on the scene and canvassing the area.  At a nearby taxi stand officers spoke with a cabbie who advised that he observed a man fitting the description of the bank robbery suspect entering and leaving in a different cab just minutes earlier.


       Sergeant Al Columbaro and Officer Robert Kelly began heading down the last direction of travel route provided by the witness.  Soon, they caught sight of a taxi.  Luckily for the officers, the cab and gotten caught in traffic.  As they closed in on the cab, the passenger jumped out and began to flee on foot.  The two officers gave chase and apprehended the subject.  On his person was the money taken from the bank.


       He was processed and committed to Camden County Correctional Facility in default of $100,000 bail.


       Sgt. Columbaro and Officer Kelly, you guys caught a bank robber.  Nice job!  As crazy and scary as it must have been at the time of the incident, you have a great story to tell.  Again, great job!  You are both heroes.



Stratford Township Police Department's 

Sgt. Al Columbaro

Officer Robert Kelly



November 30, 2003





       At almost 4:00 a.m. on a Wednesday in November, not much is going on in most jurisdictions.  


       On November 19, however, this was not the case for North Plainfield Officers Enrico Perrone, Tomasz Florek, and Anthony Hoofatt.


       It was exactly 3:56 a.m. when their radios broke the early morning silence.  The call?  A woman in labor.


       The officers rushed to the scene.  This baby didn't feel like waiting for the amenities of a hospital room.  It was on its way.


       Together, the three officers delivered the baby of Lisbeth Hernandez.  It was a baby boy.  To complicate things further, the umbilical cord was wrapped around the infant's neck.  Carefully, the officers safely removed the cord from the neck of the newborn.  


       They then administered oxygen to the infant until paramedics arrived.


       Officers Perrone, Florek, and Hoofatt, nothing we can write can come close to how grateful the family must be to you all.  Nothing can come close to the memory you three will share for the rest of your careers.  This is one of those shining calls that will hopefully bring a smile to your face whenever your recall that Wednesday morning "woman in labor" call.  Delivering a baby with just minutes of notice is tremendous responsibility and a very scary call.  You guys obviously did everything right.  Awesome job!



North Plainfield Police Department's 

Ptl. Enrico Perrone

Ptl. Tomasz Florek

Ptl. Anthony Hoofatt



November 11, 2003





       One day in the latter part of October, Newark Police Chief Anthony Ambrose was in his office presumably doing Chief-type things.  At some point he was informed that he had a visitor.  


       Only Chief Ambrose knows the feeling he experienced when he first realized exactly who this visitor was. When he accepted this visitor, he came face to face with Alterick Brownridge.  


       Chief Ambrose was Officer Ambrose when he first met Alterick Brownridge.  It was October 10, 1990.  Ambrose and several other officers had gone to Brownridge's apartment to arrest him.  Brownridge was wanted for various crimes including robbery.


       When Officer Ambrose attempted to push his way into the apartment, Brownridge produced a handgun and fired at Ambrose.  The bullet struck but only grazed Ambrose's head.  Brownridge was taken into custody.  


       He would later be sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Unfortunately, New Jersey uses funny math, and the sentence only equated to 12 years, but that's a story for another day.  Brownridge was released some time last year.  


       So, on this day in 2003 you can imagine what may have been running though Chief Ambrose's mind when he learned of his visitor.  Ambrose agreed to see him.  


       The two met, and Brownridge said he was sorry.  He apologized for what he had done on that October day in 1990.  He would later tell the press "Sometimes you've got to grow up and be a man.  It had been on my mind for a while to apologize."


       What would you have done in that situation?  It might be easy to speculate, but you probably could not be certain unless you faced those exact circumstances.  


       Chief Anthony Ambrose accepted Brownridge's apology.  But, that's not the pinnacle of the story.  The two went on to talk for a while.  When Chief Ambrose learned of Brownridge's current difficulties, he offered to help Brownridge find a job.  


       Talk about a class act.  Alterick Brownridge shot Anthony Ambrose and went to prison.  He serves his time and is released.  Ambrose finds it in his heart not only to forgive him but offers to help him get a new start on life.  Such benevolence is beyond incredible.


       Brownridge may never take the chief up on his offer, and the two may never talk again.  That will never change what Chief Ambrose did.  In an era chaos and terrorism and international craziness, Chief Anthony Ambrose of the Newark Police Department makes us stop and think for a moment about who we are and what we are about.  



Newark Police Department's 

Chief Anthony Ambrose



October 12, 2003





       It was the tail-end of the midnight shift when the call was dispatched.  Patrolmen Dale Owens took the 5:45 a.m. call of a woman who had collapsed.  Ptl. Owens was the Field Training Officer of Ptl. Eric Tigehlaar.  They were assigned together when the call came in.


       Upon arrival at the residence, the officers assessed the 58-year-old woman and determined that she was not breathing.  A further check revealed that she had no pulse either.


       The officers began CPR immediately.  They also began setting up their agency-issued defibrillator.  They continued CPR until receiving the "shock" and later the "clear" command by the device.  One shock was administered.  


       The officers checked the woman again for vital signs.  They discovered that her pulse returned and she was breathing on her own.  They administered oxygen and stood by until the Kingston First Aid Squad and paramedics arrived.


       The woman would later be transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.  The officers later learned that she was visiting here from India.  


       Any officer with even a little experience in first aid calls knows that CPR saves are few and far between.  You have to do everything right.  On this day Patrolmen Dale Owens and Eric Tigehlaar did everything right.  The result was a woman being brought back to life and a family that will eternally be thankful to New Jersey law enforcement.   


       South Brunswick's Deputy Chief, Frederick A. Thompson, would later tell the Home News and Tribune  "These two officers are to be commended for their rapid response and quick action in saving Mrs. Varghese. Our hopes and prayers are that she will make a complete recovery."   We agree.



South Brunswick Police Department's 

Patrolman Dale Owens 

Patrolman Eric Tigehlaar



October 7, 2003





        Officers James Taliaferro and Howard Watkins Jr. of the Trenton Police Department were on patrol in the early morning hours of September 30, 2003.  At approximately 12:53 a.m. they spotted a car occupied by the three subjects at Hamilton Avenue and Clark Street.  The car fit the description of one that had been involved in an armed robbery earlier that evening.  That earlier armed robbery involved a handgun.  


       Officers Taliaferro and Watkins activated the emergency lights and attempted to conduct a stop of the vehicle.  No such luck.  The driver was off to the races.


       The car stop that turned into a pursuit didn't last long.  The driver of the fleeing vehicle crashed into a parked vehicle after just a brief chase.  All three occupants bailed out and went running in different directions.


       Officers Taliaferro and Watkins gave chase.  They were assisted by Lt. John DeHart and Sgt. Peter Weremijenko.  Soon, all three of the vehicle's occupants were apprehended and arrested. 


       Further investigation revealed a loaded, semiautomatic handgun that had been thrown from the car during the pursuit.  Officers also discovered proceeds from the earlier robbery and other property linking the three actors to the earlier incident.  They also found property linking the trio to a different robbery that had occurred earlier that day.   


        Armed robbery is one of the most serious and often violent offenses today.  Its perpetrators primarily prey on hard-working, law-abiding citizens.  It is a great victory when skilled officers apprehend those who employ this offense for a living.



Trenton Police Department's

Patrolman James Taliaferro 

Patrolman Howard Watkins Jr.

Lieutenant John DeHart 

Sgt. Peter Weremijenko



October 7, 2003






TRENTON - Trenton officers were dispatched to to a street disturbance where gunshots were being fired.  Trenton officers John Carrigg and Jason Woodhead, were in route when they observed a vehicle fleeing the area.  The officers attempted to stop the car.  No chance.  The driver began to flee.  

       The vehicle was occupied by four people.  During the pursuit officers observed an object being tossed from the fleeing vehicle.  Soon, other Trenton officers were in the area, and the driver finally slowed his fleeing vehicle to a stop.  


       Trenton cops surrounded the vehicle, and all four of the occupants were extracted, presumably at gunpoint


       A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed an assortment of ammunition.  The officers backtracked to where the object had been tossed from the car.  They discovered a sawed-off shotgun.  


       All four occupants were arrested and charged with various offenses including weapons offenses.


       Any time a gun is taken off the street, a small celebration and recognition is warranted.  What that gun could have cost us or the public is too much to even speculate.



Trenton Police Department's

Patrolman John Carrigg

Patrolman Jason Woodhead



August 8, 2003






       Lower Township Police Officers Ernest Macomber and Patrick Greene were about three quarters of the way through their 12-hour shift when they were assisting with an accident  on Tuesday, August 5, 2003.  Traffic was already congested between this accident and the wet roads.  Then, they heard a crash.  About 1/4 mile down the road they saw a second accident.  Other cars began skidding and crashing as a result of the first wreck.  When the smoke cleared there were four vehicles involved.  Unfortunately, the smoke hadn't cleared.  


       Rising from the wreck was a large amount of white smoke.  When Officers Macomber and Greene arrived on the scene they observed that three of the vehicles were all clumped together.  The middle vehicle was a Jaguar.  The front wheels were racing at top speed.  What the officers didn't know was that the accelerator was stuck all the way to the floor.  


       The driver was trying to climb out through the window as the door was pinned shut.  The smoke was turning to black as the engine had caught fire.  Ptl. Macomber made his way to the vehicle and saw that the panicked, 64-year-old driver was tangled in the seatbelt.  Officer Macomber went up to the car, which could have broken free at any second, untangled the driver and dragged him out of the car through the window.  Ptl. Greene then took the driver, who was injured, and removed him from what was soon to be harm's way.  


       Moments later, the car broke free from the wreck and raced away over the street into some trees and onto the grass where it came to a halt because the grass was wet.  The tires were still turning at full speed, and it could have broken free again at any moment.


       Upon seeing this, Ptl. Macomber drove his patrol car and blocked in the vehicle so it couldn't come back out onto the road.  The vehicle then became completely engulfed in flames from the front to the front portion of the passenger compartment.  The Jaguar's tires then stopped moving, and Ptl. Macomber pulled his patrol car away.


       On the following Friday, the driver of the Jaguar, Melvin Weissman of Sparta, Sussex County called the Lower Township Police Department.  He called to thank them and completely broke down into tears.


       Officers Macomber and Greene, this man will forever be indebted to you both and to law enforcement officers all over for life.  Your bravery and quick action saved his life.  It is really an unbelievable story.  You are real heroes. honors...


Lower Township Police Department's

Patrolman Ernest Macomber

Patrolman Patrick Greene



July 26, 2003





MANCHESTER -- Ptl. Daniel McCallum has twenty years on the job.  He has most certainly seen a lot in those twenty years.  On Thursday, July 24, 2003 Ptl. McCallum was once again reminded that he hasn't yet seen it all.


       At 12:06 a.m. a call was dispatched.  A woman was in labor.  


       Ptl. Daniel McCallum arrived about six minutes later.  This is a most impressive response time for an agency covering a town of 82 square miles.  Alicia Hanlon, a paid first-aider arrived at about the same time.


       Seeing the baby's head crowning was a pretty good indicator that that Dr. OB-GYN would not be making the delivery.  


       Officer McCallum and the first-aider comforted the pregnant woman and allowed nature to take its course.  Moments later, he assisted as the head emerged.  Then, the body, and then the feet slowly entered our world.  The baby opened its eyes and let out a cry.  


       McCallum interrupted the happiness by suggesting that the father cut the umbilical cord. "Grinning from ear to ear,"  he agreed.


       The baby weighed 7 pounds and 8 ounces and is in perfect health.  Mother is doing fine as well.


       We see many tragedies in this job.  This had to be a high point in McCallum's career.  This is one of those good calls that can be placed on a shelf in our memory to balance all of the heartbreaking sadness that comes with this job.  Ptl. McCallum will be remembered by this family forever, and he brought good will to our profession as this call was captured in an article in the Asbury Park Press.



Manchester Township Police Department's

Patrolman Daniel McCallum



July 7, 2003








       Patrolman Kenyatta Kelly is a seven-year veteran of the Camden City Police Department.  On Sunday, July 6, 2003 he and his seven years of experience faced the ultimate battle.  He stared down the muzzle of a .44 magnum.


       The incident began at about 4:35 a.m. when officers were dispatched to a residence after the homeowner called police and reported a burglary in progress.


       Camden officers, including Kelly, rushed to the scene, but the actors had fled prior to their arrival.  They began searching the area and found a witness who advised that the suspects had run into the Ivy Hill Apartment Complex.  


       Officers began searching the complex and observed one of the actors at about 5:00 a.m.  They attempted to detain him, but he fled on foot.  


       Ptl. Kenyatta Kelly pursued the fleeing suspect and caught up to him.  The suspect, however, had no intentions of being arrested.  Ptl. Kelly attempted to place the subject under arrest, but he fiercely resisted and a struggle ensued.  


       Then, in what must have been a knee buckling experience for Ptl. Kelly, the suspect produced a .44 magnum and pointed it toward Kelly.  Risking his own life, Ptl. Kelly ordered the subject three times to drop the weapon.  The subject refused, and Ptl. Kelly shot him twice in the chest ending the standoff.  


       The suspect was pronounced dead sometime later.


       Ptl. Kelly, you didn't begin your shift with the intention of firing your weapon.  It just happened.  If you hadn't fired, this story would most likely be on the Memorial Page instead of the Top Cops page.  A bad guy pulls out a gun during a fight with an officer for one reason and one reason only.  There is not one member of your family, your friends or your fellow officers from around the state who thinks you should have waited to see the outcome.  There is no question.  You did what you had to do, and we are all glad for it.


       Regarding the standard post-shooting IA investigation, let's please get this done with quickly, so Ptl. Kelly doesn't have to deal with the accompanying stress for too much longer.  


       Ptl. Kenyatta Kelly, 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).  


       NJLawman honors.....


Camden City Police Department's

Patrolman Kenyatta Kelly



July 7, 2003







       If you watched CNN today or checked their website, you saw massive coverage of the three arrests made by Patrolman Charles Antrilli of the Oaklyn Police Department.  However, today's coverage was about a hair away from being of a massacre instead of arrests.


       Ptl. Charles Antrilli was a little more than half way through a midnight shift.  He was driving around in the three-o'clock hour when he noticed a man waving him down.  Ptl. Antrilli stopped to see what the man needed.  As it turned out, it wasn't directions.


       The man informed Ptl. Antrilli that three teens wearing trench coats had just attempted to carjack his vehicle.  One of them had walked in front of his vehicle causing him to slow to allow the young man to cross the street.  As the teen walked in front of the man's car, he opened his coat revealing a handgun.  He then signaled to his friends.  The man quickly drove around the three teens and sped away.  That's when he found and waved down Ptl. Antrilli.  


           Officer Antrilli proceeded to the area where the incident had taken place and spotted the young men fitting the description provided by the witness.  When he went out with them, he must have astonished at what he saw.   Two of them were carrying rifles. One had a Chinese .30cal bolt action with bi-pod, the other had a Ruger .22 cal rifle with scope.   Ptl. Antrilli, alone facing three heavily armed adversaries, began shouting commands.  A brief standoff then took place.


       Ptl. Antrilli continued repeating commands for them to drop their weapons.  Although their plan had included an agreement not to be taken alive, they eventually complied with Ptl. Antrilli's orders and were arrested. 


       In a search incident to arrest, officers discovered that all three had rifles and shotguns strapped to their backs and handguns tucked in their waistbands.  Additionally, they had knives, swords, machetes and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition.


       A massive investigation was then launched.  Through statements, notes, and other evidence, it was learned that the three had just started out on a killing spree.  In an interview later in the day, Camden County prosecutor Vincent Sarubbi said the youths had formulated a plan to kill three schoolmates, "then move on and randomly kill people throughout the borough of Oaklyn. They had in fact begun to initiate this plan," he said.


       Ptl. Antrilli, those moments you spent alone with the three suspects are most certainly moments you won't soon forget.  Whatever you said, whatever you did, and however you did it, you saved your town from a massacre that would have haunted its residents and the people of this state for years.  



Oaklyn Borough Police Department's

Patrolman Charles Antrilli



July 4, 2003







       Nassau Street in Princeton is one of the great day trips in New Jersey.  It hosts all kinds of beautiful stores and great restaurants and the Nassau Inn, one of New Jersey's great, old hotels.  On June 26th, however, this suburban paradise was almost the scene of a bloodbath.  


       At about 11:30 a.m. a worker on the second floor of a Nassau Street building just happened to be looking out the window down to the street.  Through the sunroof of a car, he observed several occupants with handguns.  He immediately notified police.  


       Princeton Borough Officers Sgt. Donald Dawson, Sgt. Robert Currier, and Ptl. Ralph Fiasco were dispatched to the location.


       Before they arrived, one of the three occupants of the vehicle had already entered a jewelry store brandishing a loaded handgun.  


       When the officers arrived they spotted the vehicle as described with New York plates.  They swooped down on the two subjects still in the car and apprehended them without incident.  The officers also found various weapons in the car including another loaded handgun and a pair of handcuffs.  Officers then entered the store to take down the third suspect.  After seeing the officers, the suspect dropped his gun and fled on foot.  Officers pursued, and after losing him for a short while, they found him hiding in the bathroom of a different establishment.


       Two of the suspects were from Brooklyn, and the third was from Toledo, Ohio.  All three were committed to the county jail without bail.  


       Had it not been for the actions of these officers, people could have lost their lives.  These three men obviously had come to Princeton Borough with the intention of victimizing its residents and visitors.  When the smoke cleared, these officers had foiled an armed  robbery, arrested three dangerous felons, recovered two loaded handguns including one with a defaced serial number, recovered handcuffs and a short-handled sledgehammer, seized a vehicle and, most importantly, they accomplished all of this without a single innocent person or themselves being inured.  In the local papers these officers were praised by the public as well as the press for such an incredible job.  The citizen, whose name has not been released, also deserves praise for his quick action.  He was an integral part of the successful conclusion of this case.  


        Sgt. Donald Dawson, Sgt. Robert Currier, and Ptl. Ralph Fiasco, this incident could have gone a hundred different ways.  You three clearly chose the best tactics and best course of action.  Most importantly, you saved the rest of us from every having to look down the barrels of one of those handguns.


       NJLawman honors...


Princeton Borough Police Department's

Sergeant Donald Dawson

Sergeant Robert Currier

Patrolman Ralph Fiasco



June 14, 2003







       Jersey City Narcotics officers Alex Bermudez and Paul Matos were out and about on Thursday, June 12, 2003 doing their normal narcotics officer things.  


       At about 1:15 p.m. they spotted a subject who was known to their unit as a major drug supplier in Jersey City, so they set up on him. The subject was in his car when a second person came up to him.  Officers Bermudez and Matos watched from their unmarked car as this second person handed a large amount of currency to the suspect.  The officers then began to pull up behind the suspect's car.  The second person walked away, and their suspect began to drive off.  


       The officers followed the subject until he pulled over a short time later.  They then approached him, identified themselves as police officers and asked for his credentials.  During the interview, the subject, in an attempt to minimize his guilt, explained, "All I did was buy a bag of weed from him."


       That was enough.  Officers Bermudez and Matos placed the subject under arrest.  A subsequent search of his vehicle revealed a jackpot that every street officer hopes to find one day.  Bermudez and Matos found 596 bags of heroin.  They also found a .44 magnum handgun and more than a thousand dollars in cash.  The subject was charged with all the usual stuff including applicable school zone violations.


       It's always great when street cops come up with DEA quantities of CDS.  Oh, and that .44 magnum was, most certainly, not destined for good things.  This was an awesome, awesome arrest.  


       NJLawman recognizes...


Jersey City Police Department's

Police Officer Alex Bermudez

Police Officer Paul Matos


       Great job guys, and thanks for saving the rest of us from having to face the barrel of that gun one day.  



June 1, 2003







       Patrolman Robert Shamrock of the Long Branch Police Department in Monmouth County was working the afternoon shift when he spotted an Acura with excessively tinted windows.  A quick stop, and on to the next one.  Or so he thought.


        The car had two occupants.  It stopped without incident.  Officer Shamrock was getting credentials from the driver when a second car pulled up.  The driver of this car informed Ptl. Shamrock that the occupants of the car he had stopped threatened him earlier in the day with a handgun.  


       Shamrock and Ptl. Todd Coleman, who also came on the scene, removed the passenger from the suspect vehicle and placed him in the rear of one of the patrol cars.  The officers then went back to the Acura and asked the driver to step out.  Instead of following instructions, the driver sped away, striking Ptl. Shamrock with the vehicle's fender and rear tire.  Ptl. Shamrock, who was injured, ran back to his patrol car and gave chase.  


       Shortly into the pursuit, the suspect vehicle struck a utility pole, splitting it.  The driver, however, continued eluding with his badly damaged car.  He pulled into the parking lot of an apartment complex where he bailed out and began to run.  


       One problem.  The suspect wasn't aware that Ptl. Shamrock was also a K-9 officer.  Shamrock dispatched he pouch "Zeus" after the fleeing suspect.  When the suspect realized that a patrol dog was giving chase and quickly closing the distance, he immediately surrendered.


       A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed a loaded 9 mm handgun, ammunition, a dealer-sized quantity of marijuana, and cash.  The suspect was lodged in default of almost $200,000.00 bail.  His passenger was also charged.  


       Officer Shamrock was taken to Monmouth Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries and released.


       Ptl. Shamrock, as impressive as all your actions were, the most important part was getting that 9 mm handgun off the street.  Great job!


NJLawman honors...


Long Branch Police Department's

Ptl. Robert Shamrock



April 16, 2003





       Dayshift and an expired inspection sticker.  Nothing too exciting to New Jersey State Trooper Brian McGuire.  


       It was about 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 when Trooper McGuire of the Bellmawr barracks effected the motor vehicle stop of the black Nissan Altima on Interstate 295.  The driver was unable to produce any identification.  Trooper McGuire was probably getting information for a DL by name when the driver launched a violent attack against McGuire.  


       With no backup yet on the scene, Trooper McGuire and the suspect fought on the side of the road while traffic passed.  Then, it got worse.  


       From his waistband, the suspect drew a .380 caliber handgun.  Trooper McGuire's  fight to subdue the man had suddenly evolved into a fight for his life.  


       A maintenance worker for the Delaware Port Authority who just finished working the nightshift was passing the scene and caught a glimpse of the fight.  Instead of continuing down the road, Carl Casella of Oak Valley stopped and jumped in to help Trooper McGuire.  The fight continued, though, from the back of the Troop car over to the guardrail.  During the struggle, Trooper McGuire was able to dislodge the gun from the suspect's possession, and it dropped to the ground.  Trooper McGuire was then able to subdue and cuff the suspect with the assistance of Cassela.  At some point which is so far unclear, four other motorists also pulled over to help.  


       A subsequent search of the suspect's vehicle revealed an unspecified amount of marijuana.  He also had six outstanding warrants for his arrest.  Additionally, he was either on parole or just off parole for a 1998 narcotics conviction for which he went to prison for almost two years.


       Trooper McGuire, you faced every cop's worst nightmare, and you won.  This piece of crap had no intention of being taken in to custody and seemingly would have fought to the death.  You have been combat tested, and you won.  Also, Carl Casella, you had no obligation to stop.  In fact, no one would have known if you had just passed by and pretended not to notice this incident, but you didn't.  You jumped in to help one of us, and for that you will always be a close friend to our community.  The other drivers are also to be commended.  


NJLawman honors...

New Jersey State Police's

Trooper Brian McGuire

Citizen Carl Casella



April 3, 2003



      It began sometime after 7:00 p.m. in Hoboken.  A man waved down a taxi and demanded a ride.  Apparently, the cab driver kicked the subject out of his cab.  During this interaction the subject pointed his .45 caliber handgun at the cab driver and shot him point-blank.  The cab driver survived.  Several minutes later the suspect spotted Ptl. John Aguiar of the Hoboken Police Department in his patrol car.  The suspect opened fire on the officer.  Ptl. Aguiar, a seven-year veteran, was struck twice.  One round hit him in the chest and the other hit him in his shoulder.  Fortunately, Ptl. Aguiar was wearing a bulletproof vest, but one of the rounds did find an opening and became lodged in Ptl. Aguiar's chest.  Then, in an unbelievable display of bravery, Ptl. Aguiar, who was already shot twice, got out of his car and initiated a foot pursuit.  The wounded officer chased the suspect for three blocks, but the suspect was able to escape. Several blocks away, the suspect carjacked an SUV and was able to flee the area.  


       Officers from the Hudson County Sheriff's Department had been listening to the events unfold over the radio.  They spotted the SUV and seconds later the suspect himself.  The Sheriffs Officers then went after the suspect who fled on foot.  HCSD chased the suspect who began firing at them.  In all, dozens of shots were exchanged.  Detective Sergeant Christian Araujo was struck in the abdomen.  The firefight continued, and the suspect was fatally wounded.


       Despite their serious injuries, both Ptl. Aguiar and Det. Sgt. Araujo are expected to recover. 


       Unbelievable.  By all accounts, all of you did an amazing job.  The bravery of all you sets a high standard for the rest to aspire.


       NJLawman honors.

Hoboken Police Department's

Patrolman John Aguiar


Hudson County Sheriff's Department's


Detective Sergeant Christian Araujo 

Other Unnamed Officers from both Agencies



March  8, 2003




       Anthony Romandetto is a lieutenant with the Belleville Police Department. On Thursday, February 27, 2003 he headed out to the road.


       Lt. Romandetto was driving in the area of the Valley National Bank branch when he keenly observed a man exiting the bank. The man turned his jacket inside out and replaced his knit cap with a baseball cap. Lt. Romandetto watched as the man got into a car and left the area. No report of a bank robbery had come in yet, but Lt. Romandetto went with his instincts and followed the man anyway.


       A short time later, Lt. Romandetto’s suspicions were confirmed. Over the radio came a broadcast that the Valley National Bank had just been robbed. With the assistance of Police Officer George Geyer, Lt. Romandetto took down the guy about two blocks away from the bank.


       Lt. Anthony Romandetto hit the jackpot. This was no one-time bank robber. This was the infamous "Eminem" Bank Robber, a man wanted for at least a dozen bank robberies from Essex County to Ocean County. He was being sought by the FBI, the New Jersey State Police, numerous County Prosecutor’s Offices, municipal police departments, and sheriff’s departments.


       Lt. Romandetto, is being praised as a hero in all the North Jersey newspapers. Accomplishments like his bring us all into a better light.


       Lt. Romandetto, awesome job. Great observations, great tactics, and great take down.


       NJLawman honors.

Belleville Township Police Department's

Lieutenant Anthony Romandetto



February 12, 2003





       Just after 4:00 a.m. on February 10, 2002 the radio broke that idle midnight-shift  conversation for New Jersey Troopers Michael Ambrosio and Dan Bassinder.  An alert came over regarding a home-invasion robbery where two subjects held up the residents using a Mossberg shotgun.  A description of the get-a-way vehicle was also broadcast.  


       Trooper Ambrosio and Trooper Bassinder gambled.  They jumped on the Garden State Parkway and headed North.  The gamble paid off.  


       As they reached the area of Wall Township the rear of a vehicle could be seen a ways ahead.  They raced up to it and discovered it was the Dodge Caravan wanted for the robbery. They confirmed it was the vehicle over the radio.  The troopers had found the vehicle just in time.  It was just about to turn off at the Asbury Park exit.  


       Troopers Michael Ambrosio and Dean Bassinder took down the car and arrested both of the occupants.  A search of the vehicle revealed the Mossberg shotgun as well as the proceeds from the robbery.  It's also starting to look like they just might have hit the tip of the iceberg.  The two subjects are suspected in at least one previous home invasion robbery.  Both went to the hoosegow in default of $225,000 bail.  


       Trooper Ambrosio and Trooper Bassinder, awesome job, especially for getting that gun off the street.  Great gamble, great take-down, great job all the way around!


NJLawman honors...

New Jersey State Police's

Trooper Michael Ambrosio

Trooper Dean Bassinder




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