Swear In Words

The inauguration of Pete Andreyev and Mike Freeman is a fortification for all PBA members

By Mitchell Krugel
Photos by Ed Carattini Jr.

NJSPBA President Pete Andreyev takes the oath of office from attorney Robert Fagella, right, as his family stands with him, from left, son Jason, daughter Natalie and wife Jen.

Confirmation of the day’s historic significance and magnitude came somewhere between the raising of the right hands and the lighting of the first cigars. And was prompted by the standing ovations.

Pete Andreyev took the oath of office as the new NJSPBA president during the state meeting on May 7. And then Mike Freeman was sworn in as executive vice president.

After hundreds of members gathered at the Addison Park in Keyport, along with their family and longtime friends from on and off the job, and gave separate but equally lengthy congratulatory roars, Andreyev and Freeman tried hard to offer some words. But it’s hard to blame them for getting a bit choked up.

By this time, a full-fledged inauguration was underway, the first one for the PBA in nearly 20 years, maybe longer.

When the Monmouth County Conference of PBAs planned its third annual cigar luncheon for this day about a year ago, there was no way to know it would be such a celebration. So choking up certainly was more than called for, not just for the road taken to get here but also the one waiting ahead for the new administration.

“I did not expect a standing ovation, honestly. This reinforces my commitment to the PBA and our membership. And just reinforces the fact of everything that I’ve been doing these past several years,” Andreyev submitted. “It’s an emotional day. It’s a passing of the torch and changing of the guard. And in a couple hours, there’s work to be done, and now we have to go to work.”

Following the swearing-in, Andreyev further stirred members with an inaugural address that can be described as nothing less than presidential. Very presidential as one observer sitting in the back who used to be a regular on this podium noted.

Mike Freeman is sworn in as NJSPBA Executive Vice President as his wife Tara and son Carter stand with him.

The phrasing of his remarks might not have “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” resonance. If anything, Andreyev was more like Theodore Roosevelt declaring in his 1905 inaugural address, “Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither.”

To be sure, the response, exhilaration and anticipation were aptly appraised by the PBA’s longtime attorney, Robert Fagella, just before he administered the oaths to Andreyev and Freeman. Fagella shared how he and partner Paul Kleinbaum have worked with the previous four PBA presidents and executive vice presidents, leading up to his sage perspective on the new administration.

“That’s an incredible group of people that they have, and I think there’s very little doubt, I would say no doubt, that they’re going to continue with that same trajectory,” Fagella declared.

That guy in the back was, of course, recently retired PBA President Pat Colligan. He took one last turn on the podium to thank members for a great ride the past 10 years. As he finished his comments, Colligan embraced Andreyev with a handshake that seemed to be a true passing of the torch to his former executive vice president.

Before that, Colligan accentuated the inauguration with some fortifying words that even led to him getting a bit choked up. Such was the call for this unprecedented day.

“Great stories of brotherhood and sisterhood. It is what we’re about,” Mr. Past President stated. “I’m getting emotional now. No one person can do this. It’s a great, great team. They’re going to do some great things. You’re in awesome hands. So let’s go have a cigar next door.”

If you have not read Andreyev’s full address, please turn back to page 4 of this issue and do so. He began his presidency by pouring his heart out to members with that same passion that he brought to the job of working patrol for so many years. The address certainly confirmed he is still very much that member.

He talked about taking a bar that Colligan and Executive Vice President Marc Kovar set very high and pushing it higher. He reinforced what the new administration will continue to focus on – the essentials, like pensions, officers’ rights and the mental and physical health of members. All the while continuing to provide services and support that no other law enforcement association in New Jersey can provide.

In short, living up to the oath to “act in the best interests of the state PBA membership.” And inspiring members to “succeed only if we all work together.”

For Andreyev, the celebratory aspect of the day came when nearly every member stopped him after the meeting to wish him luck. And to share it all with a historic picture that gathered all in attendance who were part of the Ocean County Conference, where he started as a State Delegate for Point Pleasant Beach Local 106.

This was a big part of Andreyev’s commitment to always be accessible to the members. And assure every one of them that they are vital to the association.

“I mean, right now I’m kind of running on adrenaline,” he admitted. “It truly is humbling, overwhelming and just awesome that Pat turned over to keys to me, and we’re going to take her for a ride. We’re going to savor this moment. Because like I said earlier today, changing of the PBA leadership doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, it is a monumental occasion. And I can promise to the members that I will do what I can to make sure that we move forward.”

Ready to stand together and lead the next era for the NJ State PBA: President Pete Andreyev, right, and Executive Vice President Mike Freeman.

Like Andreyev saying how special it was to have his wife, Jen, daughter, Natalie, and son, Jason, standing with him when he took the oath, Freeman was equally emotional about having his wife, Tara, and son, Carter, right behind him when being sworn in. And like Andreyev, he was overwhelmed by the ovation and ongoing reception he received from members throughout the day.

“I’m glad that they were receptive and that they trust me to help lead this group,” Freeman expressed. “I know it’s going to be a challenge. I know it’s going to be exciting. I know it’s never going to be boring. I think Pete and I are going to do a great job of communicating with our members, making sure that everybody understands what we’re up against, how we can fight through everything and just make a better union for every law enforcement officer in the state.”

Freeman assured that they were getting back to work that night. There are already several meetings scheduled with state politicians and other influencers who will be integral to getting the PBA agenda out.

Apparently, Freeman also is primed and ready for the road ahead.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and as I said, I will do whatever I can for anybody in this union,” he acknowledged. “To hear the stories of how our individual members are affected by what we do just reinvigorates me every day to get up and go do more.”