By JENNIFER AMATO
NORTH BRUNSWICK – One of the original police officers of the North Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) has passed away.
“After serving his country, Anthony ‘Tony’ Vitanza began his career in North Brunswick as a part-time police officer. He then became one of the original full-time officers, eventually working as a detective and instructor,” a post on the NBPD’s Facebook page states.
“He had received several awards, including a Meritorious Valor Award for saving the life of his partner and a civilian by shooting an armed suspect that was about to do them harm.
“Vitanza was a well-known and popular figure within the township, and will be missed,” the post said.
Vitanza, 86, died peacefully at his home in Monroe on Jan. 4, according to his obituary from Selover Funeral Home in North Brunswick.
Born on July 8, 1930, in New Brunswick, Vitanza was a lifelong resident of North Brunswick before moving to Monroe in 2016.
During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Air Force. He was honorably discharged in 1955.
Vitanza’s career started as a part-time police officer in North Brunswick in 1956. He began serving as one of the first full-time officers in 1965, was promoted to detective in 1967 and served in that capacity until 1973.
His assignments included the Juvenile Bureau and Narcotics Squad. He headed the North Brunswick Defense Tactic Riot Squad and instructed personnel in this area including firearm qualification testing. He was a firearms and defense instructor at the Middlesex County Police Academy.
Vitanza was presented the Meritorious Valor medal by the North Brunswick Township Committee for his heroic action, which resulted in saving the life of his partner and a civilian.
Vitanza then served as an investigator with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, retiring in 1995.
He was also the owner of the North Brunswick Ski and Sport Center from 1976-83.
Within the community, Vitanza served two three-year terms (1977-82) on the North Brunswick Township Committee, assuming the position of police commissioner. He headed the Planning and Zoning Department, also overseeing the Engineering Department, Industrial Developing Committee, Rent Leveling Board and building inspections.
He was a member of the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club, Sip and Ski Club, Lions Club, American Legion Post 459, Italian American Club, Chamber of Commerce and a fund raiser for Deborah Hospital.