As I write this post we find ourselves in the middle of Police Week, which culminates with Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Day on May 15, 2021. I cannot help but reflect upon the last 14 months and the turmoil our Country and our Borough have experienced in dealing with a Global Pandemic, winter storms, summer storms, calls for police reform, protests and a never ending news cycle appearing to provide nothing but continuous negativity. I wanted to thank all of our residents for the encouragement, kind words and support you always provide us, but I also wanted to share what being a police officer is like on any given day, even in a peaceful Borough such as ours. Please bear with me for a few minutes while I detail a typical patrol shift;
April 24th starts like any other day for the officers in the Police Department. Morning roll call, followed by the gathering of gear, preparing patrol vehicles and completing the daily safety/maintenance checks of all equipment, computers, radios and vehicles. Officers embark upon their 12-hour tour of duty in service of the Borough. Center Patrols of our business district begin to ensure pedestrian and traffic safety, business owners greeted, parking lots monitored, residents and visitors are made to feel secure through our presence.
Officers begin to provide high visibility patrols of soft target areas as a deterrence to crime or violent extremist activity. Enforcement activities are initiated on residential streets and high-volume traffic areas to prevent motor vehicle accidents and foster an overall safe community for vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian traffic.
Additional Officers respond to a community-based event at the Ridgedale Middle School. Drug Take Back results in the removal of 92 pounds of unwanted medications from residents’ homes, which are secured by the Police Department and eventually transported for destruction.
A seemingly serene day in the Borough interrupted by an onslaught of 911 calls for a horrific motor vehicle crash. Five of the Borough’s Officers respond to the scene of a vehicle engulfed in flames. Vehicle occupants are severely injured and/or burned and CPR is initiated in an effort to save the life of a vehicle occupant. Multiple hours are spent securing the scene and coordinating with additional agencies and emergency services. A life is lost.
Those same five officers, only 3 hour later, respond to the residence of a four year old, who is enamored with the Police, to surprise him as he celebrated his birthday. Those officers having just witnessed a traumatic scene of injury and death were now comingled with children and their family members to celebrate a child’s birthday wish.
The officers resume their patrol duties and finish out their tour with more high visibility patrols, traffic enforcement initiatives and a welfare check for a resident who dialed 911 in error. They park their patrol vehicles, change out of their uniforms and head home to their families after having experienced the best and worst life has to offer, all in a 12-hour tour of duty. They’ll return the following day to do it all over again.
The events depicted above were actual events occurring within the Borough. I detailed these events with purposeful intent. My hope is residents will read this post and come to understand the highs and lows our officers face on a daily basis, not just here in Florham Park, but everywhere. Police Week is about celebrating Police Officers and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in protection of the communities they serve. I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to honor Florham Park’s fallen officers, Detective Francis Dailey and Patrolman Robert Hauptman, both of whom died in the line of duty July 17, 1975.
Police Week will culminate with a candlelight vigil in honor of the lost, a ceremony, which unfortunately most will not see covered in the media. Added to the names of the fallen will be four officers feloniously murdered in the line of duty since Monday of this week alone.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and know that every single day we wake with intent to provide the greatest level of service to the residents of this great Borough.
Thank you again for all of your continued support of our Department and our officers.
Chief of Police
May 12, 2021