By JENNIFER AMATO
Local police, their relatives, public officials and clergymen are all speaking out against the violence that occurred last week around the country.
Two men were shot dead by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota, last week, which prompted a police-targeted shooting in Dallas, Texas, on July 7, where five police officers were shot dead and nine officers and two civilians were wounded during a Black Lives Matter protest.
“The events of the past 24 hours has unnerved all of us, but our resolve to continue to protect our community is unwavering,” South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said of the targeted shooting on July 7.
“The men and women who were attacked in Dallas last night were targeted because they wore the same uniform we do. The increased threat to law enforcement has led us to make changes to our operations. These changes will not alter our level of service,” he said. “Our department works tirelessly to strengthen our community relations, and it is times like this that we rely on our partnerships.
“I appreciate the outpouring of support from all the community members who dropped off items at headquarters or took time to thank a South Brunswick officer for their service today. It is this ongoing level of cooperation and understanding that will help us all get through these difficult times.”
Wendy Hanrahan, who organized a gathering of police wives in North Brunswick last October, said that being a police wife is hard.
“You don’t want your husband to leave the house for fear that he’ll be the next one executed just for doing his job. At the same time, you know he can’t stay because he has a sworn duty to protect the same citizens that may hate him.
“It’s not realizing you were holding your breath until you hear the front door open and feel your body relaxing knowing he’s home safe. It’s crying when you turn on the news and hearing that another woman was not so lucky — the guilt that comes with having him home when his ‘brother’ has fallen.
“It’s shielding your kids who think their Daddy is a hero, from the hate being spewed at him from all directions. It’s trying to ignore the comments from the Monday morning quarterbacks, who have never been a cop once in their lives, but suddenly understand that in a split second they should have [made] another choice or be re-trained. It’s arguments with friends, family members or strangers, to protect the ideals of your husband and his brethren,” she said.
“I count the days until my husband can retire. I pray for him, my family and my friends that all walk that line, every second of every day. I make sure that he doesn’t leave the house without my saying, ‘I love you’ and ‘Be careful’ because I don’t know if today will be the last time I say those words to him.”
To pray for peace for all citizens on both sides of an issue plagued by allegations of racism, North Brunswick Township held an interfaith prayer service on July 8 with religious leaders from throughout the town.
“It’s time to make sure that we show our police officers how very, very fortunate we feel to have people of their professionalism and their caliber working for us in North Brunswick,” Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said.
Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos, who is also the chair of the county’s Public Safety and Health Committee, said the tragic, despicable actions taken could have targeted “officers in any city, any community around the United States — it could’ve been in this very township.”
He said tragic incidents need to be dealt with through the judicial system, and citizens must recognize that there is a process.
He said the country cannot allow vigilantes “to purposely execute our officers in blue” nor condone what has occurred.
The Rev. John Polyak of Our Lady of Peace Church, who is a police chaplain, said that although we can do without food or without water, we cannot do without safety in our lives.
Bishop Calvin Enlow of the New Destiny Family Worship Center said his congregation is thankful for the service and bravery of those who put on a uniform with integrity.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the finest men and women that put on a police uniform in North Brunswick, and I’m certainly proud to be part of this community,” he said.
Imam Qari Abdul Basit of the New Brunswick Islamic Center, which is located on Livingston Avenue in North Brunswick, read from the Quran, followed by Sami Catovic, executive director of the mosque, explaining that the holy book states that when tragedy strikes, it is from God we come and to God we return.
“We thank those in blue who provide protection to our community,” he said.
“Allow us to be people of understanding and who reject this notion of hate,” he prayed.
Sr. Pastor David Luckey Jr. of Without Walls Christian Ministry said he has relatives and congregants who are police officers.
“We are crossing the boundaries of chaos now, where we cannot coexist as humans, and that is very tragic,” he said. “When we have to endure this type of horrific behavior that has happened over the last week or the last couple years, it is unjustifiable.”
He said citizens cannot be afraid to protest, but that police officers cannot be afraid to put on their uniforms either.
Rabbi Mendy Carlebach of the Chabad of North and South Brunswick, who also serves as a law enforcement chaplain, said that there is no amount of compensation that can compensate police officers for what they do on a daily basis.
Pastor and Elder Tim Nussbaumer of Point Community Church said that although the first inclination is to express one’s views on social media and pick a side, “we are coming together to say there are things to unite around — and that is peace.”
Contact Jennifer Amato at firstname.lastname@example.org.