Essex County Conference Cigar Night brings out the brotherhood

The Essex County Conference Cigar Night always seems to bring out the best of the PBA. The fourth annual event at Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville on Oct. 5 gave the more than 200 members who attended a lot more than just some good food and hand-rolled cigars to enjoy.

Nutley Local 33 State Delegate and Essex County Conference Co-chair PJ Sandomenico was pleased to see members come out and take a mental health break from the job.

“It really feels like a family atmosphere when we all get together. Come here, take a load off and just realize you’re in a safe, relaxing environment,” Sandomenico commented. “We preach brotherhood. We preach looking out for one another. We provide each other with that sense of belonging. We’re being each other’s keepers. You have something on your mind, or just the complete opposite and want to forget about something, this event is for you.”

For many members, this year’s Cigar Night also provided an opportunity to see sisters and brothers they had not visited with since last year due to the pandemic. With public venues opened and local restrictions being lifted, this year’s Cigar Night nearly doubled in attendance compared to 2020’s event.

“Let me just say, this event supports a great cause, and officers get to enjoy some good food, but another important reason to attend these events is the networking opportunities,” Sandomenico added. “No matter how long you’ve been on the job, or how many people you’ve already met, come out and meet more of your family. There’s so much more to the world than just being a law enforcement officer. I can tell you I’ve made so many friends at these events throughout the years that I still keep in contact with today. It’s true when I say the PBA is a family. We all just want to see each other succeed and do well.”

The Essex County Conference Board worked overtime to make sure the event would be an opportunity for as many members as possible to attend. And part of the added attendance came from some younger members who are feeling the power of the PBA.

“For me, it’s personal. I’m pro-PBA all the way,” Sandomenico continued. “I’m excited the younger generation is here, getting them in tune with what we do with each other. I hope they know if they ever need anything you pick the phone up and you call, because that’s what family is.”