Our commemorative issue is all about 10 for you: A retrospective of how the PBA and its members have made 10 years of NJ Cops as the union’s official publication so memorable.
Walking into the president’s office at PBA headquarters in January 2011 instilled some fear of the unknown. Having taken ownership of New Jersey Cops Magazine seven months earlier, this was intended to be a meet and greet with leaders of an organization we knew as the state’s largest law enforcement union.
President Tony Wieners seemed seven feet tall when he stood up to shake hands. Executive Vice President Keith Dunn and Second Vice President John Hulse sat to his left as part tribunal, part detectives. We had no anticipation that this would be a life-changing and game-changing moment.
Hoping to come out of this meeting with a working relationship as a source for stories important to the profession, the conversation commenced with asking whether the PBA leadership would be interested in contributing some content to NJ Cops. Turned out they were looking for something more.
We had purchased NJ Cops Magazine in June 2010 from Larry Holtz, the promotional test prep guru of Holtz Learning Centers. Holtz had bought the magazine in 2007 from North Jersey Media Group, which published the Bergen Record newspaper. During the year prior, the publisher of the magazine was the person whose name is atop this article.
After chatting with Tony, Keith and John, I finally submitted having another idea about a relationship between the PBA and NJ Cops Magazine.
Keith responded, “Let’s hear the idea.”
What if NJ Cops Magazine became the official publication of the New Jersey State PBA.
“That’s what we’ve been waiting to hear,” Tony declared.
On Feb. 10, 2011, New Jersey Cops Magazine, the voice of New Jersey law enforcement, became the official publication of the NJSPBA. In March, we published our first issue, a door-opening 56 pages that featured a story about the PBA was not going to stand for the attacks on law enforcement, a charge the union continues to take on in every issue since.
In March 2011, NJ Cops Magazine set out on its mission to showcase the work, achievements and stories of the NJSPBA and its members. It has tried to be a monthly celebration of what that union and the members do and be a venue for the PBA to get its message out to the masses – not just members, but elected officials and anybody who wants the 4-1-1 on what this one-of-a-kind association accomplishes.
“It gives us that opportunity to get the important messages out to the individual member,” NJ State PBA President Pat Colligan confirms. “They may not be active, but they deserve the rights and privileges of PBA membership, and [NJ Cops] gives us that opportunity to get that message out to them.”
And so with this 10th anniversary, we celebrate “A Perfect 10” of getting the message out. Of showcasing the unmeasurable efforts to protect and serve members put forth every hour. Of providing information that can support and improve working conditions. Of providing information that can help New Jersey cops on and off the job.
To commemorate this anniversary, the forthcoming pages present “Perfect 10” lists of some of the stories that have made NJ Cops Magazine a privilege to present and have created a reliable vehicle for members to get the media attention they so richly deserve and don’t otherwise get from the mainstream news folks.
You will see A Prefect 10 for categories that have formulated so much of our content. Creating lists for your monthly PBA contributors would have been a disservice to the union for each of these have been so important and impactful that we could combine them into a best-selling book.
So we ask you to take a stroll down memory lane to check out 10 for the 10th anniversary among these:
- Cover stories.
- The best of the rest of the big stories.
- PBA Locals events and fundraisers.
- Valor Awards.
- PBA conventions.
- Police Unity Tour.
- National Police Weeks Events.
- Jobs well done.
- Special Olympics events: Polar Bear Plunge, Snow Bowl, Torch Run and Plane Pull.
Trimming to 10 stories in each category proved to be the toughest job we’ve had since we began this 10 years ago. But we hope the highlights on the ensuring pages provide memories that bring smiles to members’ faces and emphasize what you all know should be the media narrative.
The stories we did not include on these lists actually rise above everything else: tributes to PBA members who have been lost in the line of duty. When we came on, the PBA was grieving over the assassination of Lakewood Local 71 member Christopher Matlosz. Honoring Chris helped set a standard for creating a special place in NJ Cops Magazine for any officer lost in the line of duty, perhaps a small contribution to never forgetting any of these heroes.
During the past 10 years, we have been able to honor Teaneck Local 215 member John Abraham Jr., Mount Arlington Police Officer Joseph Wargo, Newark Detective Michael Morgan, Millville Local 213 member Christopher Reeve, Jersey City Officer Melvin Santiago, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Local 171 Detective John Scott Stevens, Summit Local 55 Detective Matt Tarentino, Paterson Local 1 Detective Tamby Yagan, Asbury Park Local 6 Detective April Bird and Bridgeton Local 94 Officer Sean Peek.
The presence of NJ Cops has also been able to properly recognize members who were lost to COVID for the sacrifices they made. We will never forget Hudson County Corrections Local 109 member Bernard Waddell Sr., State Corrections Local 105 member Nelson Perdomo, Bedminster Township Local 366 member AlTerek Patterson, Patterson Local 1 member Francesco Scorpo, Union City Local 8 member Alex Ruperto, State Corrections Local 105 member Maria Gibbs, Bloomingdale Local 354 member Gary Walker, Hudson County Corrections Local 109 member Zeb Craig, Glen Ridge Local 58 member Charles “Rob” Roberts, State Corrections Local 105 member Erick Whitaker, Old Bridge Local 127 member Chris Cronin, Somerset County Sheriff’s Department Officer Ahmed Mackey, Hoboken Local 2 member Peter Zanin, State Corrections Local 105 member Vincent Butler, State Corrections Local 105 member Edward Jamandron and Cumberland County Corrections Local 231 member Luis Andujar.
The PBA has extended tributes throughout New Jersey and the country with its Special Services trailer, and another privilege has been to chronicle these. The inspiration for remembering all these law enforcement officers came from a meeting with Wieners in May 2011 when he set the standard by saying, “There is nothing law enforcement does better than honoring its own.”
The Perfect 10 lists could never be all-inclusive or a 10 best because the best stories are the ones that mean the most to members. And hopefully, every PBA member has more than a few favorites. The ones presented in the following pages are meant to be a cross-section of those that showcase your work, your efforts, your passion. And that you can always count on these stories to be published here.
Going on 10
Before letting you turn the page and take a stroll down memory lane, please indulge a moment to recognize some of those who have made this possible. A thank-you note if you will.
Of course, it begins with Tony and Keith. They turned it over to Pat and Executive Vice President Marc Kovar, who have done so much to elevate NJ Cops. Pat has contributed three different regular columns – Political Action, Pension Benefits and the President’s Message – as well as an incredible number of the stories spotlighting members that have filled these pages.
Early in the partnership, we met Marc, a member who wouldn’t hesitate to do the heavy lifting. He still does, and his devotion inspires us to make every story as great as it can be because that’s what members deserve.
Ed Carattini Jr. is responsible for so much of what makes NJ Cops memorable. It’s not uncommon for Ed to work a night shift then head out early the next morning with no sleep to photograph a PBA event. The images he has brought to the pages bring so much of the honor the magazine has been able to present.
Kevin Lyons, Pete Andreyev, Mike Freeman and Rob Nixon fill the magazine with so much expertise each issue. Their articles have helped create the presence for NJ Cops that makes it a must-read every month.
PBA attorneys Robert Fagella and Paul Kleinbaum have the distinction of being the only ones to have contributed an article to every issue of NJ Cops Magazine. There’s no better way to measure how much they have helped members by examining and explaining so many important topics.
Check the left-hand column on page 4 of this and every issue to see a list of all those members who have contributed so much to NJ Cops. There is not enough space to mention them by name, nor is there enough to thank all the State Delegates, Local presidents and other members who have graciously granted interviews and information to enable us to report and write these stories.
On a personal note, allow me to give a nod to the NJ Cops staff who have worked so hard to give members something memorable each month. Gina Crotchfelt, our art director, works more hours than anybody will ever know putting together the pages each issue. She is a goddess. Karen Jenkins and Rosemary An have joined the team and bring a boundless passion to telling the stories. We miss Amber Ramundo who gave you so many joyful stories during her time with NJ Cops.
Lastly, I get down on my knees and bow in homage to John Hulse. His vision was to create a monthly magazine that would showcase the best of the PBA and its members. He has given so much to teach us how to do this and ensure we do our best every issue. This is part of John’s greatness to give instinctively and endlessly of himself for the benefit of the PBA and its members.
With that, the only thing left to say is this: Read on, now and forever!