TRIBUTE: Police Officers Christopher Goodell of Waldwick and Stephen Petruzzello of Cliffside Park were honored along with three other law enforcement officers from New Jersey who gave their lives to protect others the past year at a solemn memorial service today in Ocean Grove.
“No matter their ages, they were too young for this,” Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman told the gathering of family members, friends, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and others at the 31st annual New Jersey Law Enforcement Memorial in Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium.
“They deserve to be remembered this way,” Hoffman said.
TRIBUTE: In honor of those New Jersey law enforcement officers who gave their lives in the past year to keep us safe — including Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell and Cliffside Park Police Officer Stephen Petruzzello — here is a photo tribute from the 31st annual New Jersey Law Enforcement Memorial Service in The Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove. CLICK HERE….
Fair Lawn Capt. Robert Kneer led the honor guard and Paramus Deputy Chief Robert Guidetti the gun salute. A united pipe and drum band from various agencies also marched down the center aisle before splitting at the stage.
The service included vocal selections from the West Windsor/Plainsboro High School concert choirs and Asbury Park Police Officer Tyrone McAllister — whose soaring version of “Raise Me Up” closed as the church’s noon bells tolled 12.
Florence Township Officer Michelle Hollins offered a rousing version of “Amazing Grace,” with lyrics to “The Policeman’s Tribute,” as the roll call of the 488 previous officers from New Jersey who’ve died in the line of duty was shown on a pair of large stage screens.
* * * * * *
“The blood runs blue within our veins;
A family are we.
The loss of men within our ranks
Is felt eternally.”
* * * * * *
To either side were the same number of seats draped in black, a sheet of paper bearing each of their names.
The families of those added to the roll then came to the stage, in front of which sketches of their loved ones — New Jersey’s heroes — were displayed.
Along with Goodell ( EOW: July 17, 2014 ) and Petruzzello ( EOW: Dec. 29, 2014 ) were Jersey City Detective Melvin Santiago ( EOW: July 13, 2014 ), Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Detective John Scott Stevens ( EOW: Jan. 21, 2015 ) and Newark Police Officer Reinaldo Arocha Jr. ( Sept. 16, 2014 ).
Each of those officers who gave his life in the service of others last year did something that was “tirelessly American,” Hoffman told the gathering. “They dreamed the dream to make it happen…with a hard will and a refusal to fail.”
“Their job boils down to putting themselves in danger so their fellow citizens could be saved,” he said.
They committed themselves “to keep guns, drugs and other things away from our children,” while also helping stranded motorists, rushing toward those in need and counseling youngsters seeking guidance — “and, simply, people seeking comfort and security,” Hoffman said.
The ceremony, which drew hundreds of officers of all stripes from dozens of law enforcement agencies, is a vital part of who were are as a society — a sentiment emphasized by both Hoffman and Gov. Chris Christie, who delivered brief remarks following Hoffman’s keynote speech.
“By honoring their fallen colleagues, we remind all law enforcement of how important their mission is,” Hoffman said.
“Our fallen officers inspire those who remain,” the attorney general said. “The circle goes unbroken and the proud law enforcement mission goes on.”
Christie, who embraced family members of the fallen heroes as they were brought to the stage, also spoke directly to them when he said that the “hurt and the sacrifice never truly fades — and in some respects, we don’t want it to.”
It’s important that the survivors know that their loved ones “will not be forgotten.”
“To their families, on behalf of the state of New Jersey,” Christie told them, “we offer not only our prayers and our condolences, but our thanks.
“There are not words that are sufficient to express the gratitude of the people of this state to all of you,” the governor said. “But we come back each year and we try.”
Participating agencies included:
New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police
New Jersey Police Chiefs Foundation
New Jersey State Police
New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association
New Jersey State Troopers NCO Association
New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police
New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association
New Jersey’s County Prosecutors Association
New Jersey’s Sheriffs Association
Federal Bureau of Investigation-Newark Division
FBI National Academy Associates-New Jersey Chapter
New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
New Jersey COPS/Garden State Survivors
New Jersey State Police Survivors of the Triangle
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-New Jersey Division
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives-New Jersey
New Jersey Police Academy Directors Association
United States Attorney’s Office
New Jersey Chaplains Association
United States Marshals Service
New Jersey Department of Corrections
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