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DV Pilot police & fire

Morgan, Hayo, McNiff, Cruz among NJ’s finest honored by FOP

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A CITIZEN WRITES: Valor, brotherhood, duty – in short: what’s ignored by politicians and media who demonize the police who protect and serve us every day – were honored by FOP Lodge #46 Wednesday night, as a cadre of heroes accepted accolades from their peers.

CLIFFVIEW PILOT photos (Reproduction without permission prohibited)

Attending as a guest, acknowledged by the evening’s emcee, and sharing a table with some of the most remarkable public servants I’ve ever met, I cannot write a straight news story here.

Instead, I applaud you, Paramus Detective Rachel Morgan and Officer Ryan Hayo, for thinking not of yourselves when you endured what could have become an awful nighmare.

SEE: Morgan, Hayo honored in D.C.

I toast you, Westwood Police Officer Scott McNiff, for saving an 88-year-old Hillsdale grandmother from choking to death.

SEE: Hero police officer reunited with woman he saved

And you, Hillsdale Officer Ramon Cruz — formerly of Paterson for turning the routine into the exemplary by stemming a string of car break-ins.

Westwood P.O. Scott McNiff holds Lifesaving Award with retired Officer Harry Dammer

I honor you, Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, NYC Corrections Officer James Ravenell. Wounded in Iraq while serving with the United States Army, you touched us all with your commitment, dedication and humility.

You also swelled our hearts with pride when, after wiping tears, you stared straight ahead and pledged: “If I got the call, I would do it all over again.”

I also congratulate the scholarship winners feted during the gathering at the Fiesta in Wood-Ridge.

And I offer a shout out from the rooftops to civilian heroes William Smith and Horace Rattigan for ignoring your own well-being to save others.

Kudos, as well, to businessman Hans Werner, for all he’s done in the name of our public servants, and to retired Capt. Joseph P. Muti, the awards dinner chairman.

Happy 85th birthday, Harry Dammer – a cop’s cop if ever there was one.

One of the scholarship winners

Last, but certainly not least, I thank the five Pascack Valley officers honored at the FOP event – one of whom has since retired – for your courage and cool in handling a rifle-toting sicko bent on “going out in a blaze of glory” as he shot up a Washington Township neighborhood while playing cat-and-mouse with you for more than half an hour.

SEE: Man killed in police shooting urged son to “aim for the head”

Although others have made it their business to splash your names publicly, I keep a promise I made to each of you in the days and weeks that followed that chilling event. You have children, families. You and they have enough to deal with. Your names won’t appear in this space.

SEE: Officers in Washington Township shootout honored

And as photogenic as the one among you who went up to accept the Combat Cross Meritorious Service award is, his picture won’t appear here, either.

CLICK BELOW for a slide show of photos from the event:

When all you can find is contempt from a governor who doesn’t rush to your side as you fight to survive near-fatal bullet wounds, when self-appointed taxpayer advocates from the media focus more on your health-benefit co-pay than on the risks you take each and every day, always remember:

Jerry DeMarco (Publisher/Editor)

There’s an enormous net beneath you.

It’s made up of your family, your friends and your civilian supporters – among them, Star Ravioli, Entenmanns, the Lowe’s of Butler, Thomas’ English Muffins, Drakes/Hostess and the Clemente Family, all of whom were acknowledged by Lodge #46 at the event.

Most importantly, it’s made of your brothers and sisters in arms.

“That thin blue line, that family, is what we all know we can count on,” said Morgan, who put herself in harm’s way and nearly paid the ultimate price to protect the public from a hopped-up maniac who suddenly pulled a gun.

“When the sh*t hits the fan,” she said, “we know we’ll always be there for one another.”

Combat Wounded Medal of Honor winners: Paramus P.O. Ryan Hayo, Detective Rachel Morgan

William Provost, the president of FOP Lodge #46, was even more direct. Then again, he’s a Hudson County guy.

“The governor and politicians in Trenton who went after the police in our state should see these heroes,” he said, pointing to Morgan and the fellow officer who ultimately saved her, Hayo.

“They think it’s an easy job,” Provost said. “But you people here see the worst of the worst, and you’re expected to return to your family and act as if everything’s fine. You can’t go home and tell them what you just went through.”

I can’t play “objective” reporter, not when I have several dogs in this race. But y’know what? For that blessing, I am truly grateful.

Wounded in Combat Gallantry Star winner James Ravenell

It’s when you get to know these people – really know them – that you see who the true demons are.

So what Provost left our heroes with tonight goes double for me:

“Wear your vest, back one another up, continue doing your job, and know that you’re appreciated.”

Because you are.

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