Love of the game and law enforcement

NJSPBA Locals come out to support Families Behind the Badge

On June 3, Families Behind the Badge held its annual softball tournament to benefit the NJSPBA Survivor and Welfare Fund.

At the head of the group are Montclair Mayor-Elect Tracy Kalert, her daughter Kaitlyn, who has experience playing softball, and Councilman Vincent DeCesare. The three started the tournament in 2015 to show their support for law enforcement.

This year, 14 departments participated, including Woodland Park Local 173, Clifton Local 36, Paterson Local 1, Passaic County Sheriff’s Officers Local 286, Montclair Local 53, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Local 265, Little Falls Local 346, Bloomfield Local 32, North Arlington Local 95, Elmwood Park Local 185, Passaic Local 14 and Hudson County Corrections Local 109. Teams from the New Jersey State Police and Woodland Park Fire Department also took part in the day.

Ultimately, the final round came down to a matchup between Local 109 and the New Jersey State Police, who took home the winning title.

But the most special part of the day wasn’t the final game. It was when all of the officers and participants took a moment to honor Local 173’s Captain Jeffery O’Brien.

O’Brien lost his battle with brain cancer in November after fighting for eight years. O’Brien had been on with Woodland Park since 2000 and was promoted to captain in 2021.

“He was a special guy, a standout guy, and it was a no-brainer to honor him,” DeCesare explained.

A few runs scored, some dirt on the shoes and one heck of a day for local law enforcement is what this tournament has become about in its eight-year run.

DeCesare says they plan to bring the tournament back next year, not just because it’s a good time, but because the families of the fallen need support.

“They put their life on the line every day for us,” he said. “And if something happens to them, we want to support their families all the time.”