Woman of the Year – Melania Trump

Woman of the Year
Melania Trump
By Bernard B. Kerik & Debra Ann Faretra

NJ Blue Now’s decision to pick First Lady Melania Trump, wife of the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, as this year’s Woman of the Year, was an easy one.

We strongly believe that the First Lady, is not only the very role female model that America needs, but as a naturalized citizen who loves this country, exemplifies what the very essence of what has made our country so great.

A naturalized American citizen who was born in Slovenia and speaks five languages — her native Slovenian, English, French, Serbian and German, agreed twenty-nine months ago, to support her husband, in his quest to become America’s 45th President. Little did she know, that that journey would end in the White House, and expose her to the world of American politics, that at times could make the American political thriller, House of Cards, look like child’s play, with its vile, back stabbing and hateful realities.

Both on the campaign trail, and since moving into the White House, The First Lady has demonstrated the core value of being a woman, mother, patriotic leader, and with beauty, elegance, class and grace.

She doesn’t refrain from displaying her conservative views and support for causes that millions of American people have longed for. She is a devout Catholic and patriot often seen engaging in prayer and honoring the flag next to the President. She is encouraging of women’s rights and her top priorities rest with the needs of children.

From a woman’s perspective and maternal figure, it is transparently evident that First Lady Trump’s parental role is conducive with the model behavior that all American families could emulate, especially in these times where many parents are either absent in their children’s lives, and have lost touch with their kids.

Mrs. Trump has used her national platform to express qualitative and healthy messages to the American People and abroad. In September 2017, she stood before the United Nations and gave a speech on bullying and asserted kindness for all children of every background. She did not specifically address one group, but equally valued the lives of all.

She is responsible for establishing a Healing Garden at Washington Children’s Hospital where she frequently visits to spend time with the children. She has also spent time at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center’s Pediatric Unit.

Our First Lady is defending women’s rights across the globe even in the face of religious extremism, bias, violence, and disasters. This woman, once famous as a fashion and runway model, today is an advocate alongside the president for the support of law enforcement, public safety members, and our military. She proudly spent time next to the President awarding Purple Hearts to America’s wounded veterans and visiting military families on various bases across the United States. She treasures those experiences.

She has traveled with the president internationally on state visits to the far east, the Vatican, as well the relief visits to Texas and Puerto Rico, and always carries herself with grace and patriotic pride for the country she now represents.

At a time that this country’s opioid epidemic has reached national crisis levels, First Lady Mrs. Trump has emphasized publicly, the core structure of family and children and the negative influences that can strain the psychological and physical health of parents and children.

Her goal to assist through this political platform to encourage change in America that will foster the well-being of American families and foster mental health growth in children is something that must be commended.

Collectively, we at NJ Blue Now believe that Mrs. Trump and her husband are doing an outstanding job in making America great again, and preserving the foundation that our founding fathers have built this beautiful country upon, and we couldn’t have a better First Lady leading the charge on our behalf. Her elegance, patriotism, beauty and grace will go down in history, as one of the most memorable first ladies of our time.

Congratulations to Mrs. Melania Trump, the First Lady of the United States of America, and our Woman of the Year!

Man of the Year

Man of the Year
Lieutenant Steven R. Floyd
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 
John 15:13

By Joseph R. Uliano, M.A., Ed.S.

The honor bestowed upon a “Man of the Year,” is reserved for someone who is so extraordinary no other man can surpass him. Unfortunately, at times, this prestigious title is often kicked around like an old can, awarding individuals who meet criteria solely supported by popular opinion (sometimes shaped by propaganda) or handed out for the potential benefits of spreading controversy and increasing sales. Yes, I just said that. It’s the truth. Far too many recipients of the “Man of the Year” award do not deserve it. I’ve seen way too many awardees celebrated, while the truth is they hide behind the podiums they speak from or kneel in front of, while pontificating about what real honorable men achieve and the hurdles they must overcome. It’s the old “Do as I say and not as I do.” These folks get their participation trophy, so to speak, while real deserving men get cast aside. But no more.

NJ Blue Now is proud to recognize admirable men and women who positively contribute to society as a whole rather than a portion of society that benefits only a selective population. Unfortunately, our pool of candidates and award recipients are not always present to receive the honors that they deserve, because many of them have paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that others could live. We honor and appreciate all of those who have not been considered this year for their unwavering commitment to help those in need, especially from those who knew their actions would ultimately cost them their lives. There are no greater heroes than those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of another.

It is with great honor and privilege that Lieutenant Steven Floyd of the Delaware Department of Corrections is herby posthumously named our 2017 Man of the Year.

On Feb. 2, 2017 the normalcy of Lt. Floyd’s life changed in a flash. Earlier in the day he walked through the iron gates of the Delaware prison system, not knowing his sixteen-year career, and his life would end several hours later. Lt. Floyd, age 47, a former Army Veteran, began his tour of duty, and like every other day watched out for his subordinates, and made sure his job was done with the upmost professionalism and respect. He was a man of integrity whose reputation was impeccable. He was the model supervisor who other supervisors sought for guidance and perspective, especially during times of adversity. He was the flagship—the rock upon which officers built their careers. They knew when the struggle was on, when the risks were greater than anyone could ever imagine, Lt. Floyd would be the first one through the door—the first one to make a stand against evil and injustice. That’s how he led. That’s how he lived and that’s how he died.

It was a normal day at work just like any other when Lt. Floyd heard the call for help from one of his subordinate officers. A riot was breaking out from volatile prisoners who were seething over grievances at the prison, and it quickly got extremely violent. Lt. Floyd rushed to assist the officer calling for help. He engaged the rioting inmates, who overpowered him and took him captive. Lt. Floyd courageously fought his captors, who brought him to a secluded location, where they set up an ambush to kill additional responding officers seeking to rescue him. Lt. Smith although injured, was aware of what was transpiring. He knew if responding officer were to enter the room, they would die. Lt. Floyd ordered the officers to retreat—to save their own lives—while his was ultimately sacrificed for theirs.

After a twenty-hour hostage standoff, where Lt. Floyd and four other prison employees were held captive, the Delaware State Police finally breached the walls and found Lt. Floyd dead. The cause of death was later determined to be a direct result of the trauma he sustained at the hands of his captors. In the Bible, John 15:13 it tells how “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” LT. Floyd lived and died with honor and distinction only a few men ever achieve.

The life and service of Lt. Floyd was honorable and worthy of all praise and recognition. He was a family man, married for twenty-eight years to his wife, Sandra. They had two daughters, Candyss and Chyvante; and a son Steven Jr. Lt. Floyd’s call to service never ended with his shift though, as he was committed to serving his community through several civic organizations, and routinely supported his local schools and little league sport teams, while never deviating away from supporting his family, as he often volunteered to work overtime to ensure that his children’s college was paid for.

Lt. Floyd’s ultimate sacrifice allowed other officers to live. We at NJ Blue Now proudly present Lt. Floyd’s family our Man of the Year award. We remember him for heroism, valor, bravery and service. And for being the model for which all officers should aspire. May he continue to rest in peace. Job well done Lt. Floyd.

Cover Story – Jonathan Smith, Citizen of the Year

Citizen of the Year
Jonathan Smith

By George Beck, Joel E. Gordon, Joe Uliano and Eddie Vega

The first burst sounded like the slow steady pops of a strip of firecrackers, perhaps special effects from the stage a few feet away where country music star Jason Aldean was performing. If not that then the fireworks that were common above the skies of the Las Vegas Strip, but the sky was dark so it was not that. Then, as the music continued to play, a longer and faster burst. Then the music stopped and Aldean ran from the stage. That’s when Jonathan Smith, 30, an aspiring police officer from California, realized that what he had heard was automatic gunfire and that he and the over 20,000 concertgoers around him were targets.

He realized something else because he had a sense of place. Before he entered the grounds he had mapped out in his head the area in relation to the streets outside, Mandalay and Reno. This was something he regularly did in the greater Los Angeles area as he drove from city to city servicing copy machines, many of them in police stations. Now as the bullets hit the stage, speakers and sound booth, ricocheting off poles and the ground, Aldean and the security guards fled the stage, and the lights went out.

As some cowered under the stage, and one hid in a standing fridge, directly in front of Smith in half-shadow, a woman in a white dress was shot in the head, her body stiff as it hit the ground. Like her, many others died where they stood. By now he knew the gunfire was coming from the direction of Mandalay Drive. Although the shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, was on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino hotel, where he would fire over 1,100 rounds, Smith believed, as many there did, that the shooter was firing at ground level from the Strip.

But whether high up or down low, to flee that way was to court death. Safety lay away from there, in the direction of Reno. He sprang to action and redirected concertgoers, some stampeding, some standing in fear, and some who were huddled behind a sheriff’s patrol car at the edge of the concert lawn, away from Mandalay and toward Reno shouting, “Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run.” Because of the darkness, they latched on to his belt and formed a quick-moving human centipede; otherwise, he steered disoriented groups or carried wounded individuals with help, over a fence to safety and returned to save more.

As two men carrying a woman shot in the face, her cheeks red and swollen, rushed past him, he saw two young girls who had tried to take cover but were still exposed to the line of fire. To get the girls’ attention and urge them to lie flat on the ground, Smith rose to his full height. That’s when he felt a burning sensation followed by a wetness spreading down his T-shirt and pants. A bullet had struck him in the pocket between his neck and shoulder, fracturing his collarbone, cracking a rib, bruising a lung, and causing massive bleeding.

The hero who saved 30 lives, one for each of his years, was down and it would take another hero to get him out of there. Enter vacationing San Diego police officer Tommy McGrath, 26, dressed in a faded purple T-shirt, swim trunks, and flip flops.

McGrath tore off Smith’s white T-shirt, formed a ball with it. “This is going to hurt,” he told him, before shoving the ball into the wound with two fingers. The bullet had obliterated many nerve endings, but not enough. The pain was intense.

There were many others in similar need. For those with leg or arm wounds, he turned shirts into tourniquets and turned them with a stick he found nearby until the victims shrieked in pain, a sign that the pressure was about right. There were some wounds though that no ball or tourniquet could help.

He returned to Smith, gathering him with two young women who had also been shot, and flagged down a red pickup truck. He loaded them onto the flatbed and told the driver to seek assistance. The women had limb wounds and were in such shrieking panic that there was little doubt they would live. Smith, however, was gravely subdued and going in and out of consciousness. As the truck sped off, McGrath chalked him off as one of that night’s many DOAs.

Smith lived. He passed quickly through the emergency room, triage, and settled into the trauma center. While there he lent his cellphone to other victims of the shooting even as the battery was down to two bars of life. He had made the calls he had needed to make, the farewells to family and friends, and one selfie to a doubting Instagram friend of the gaping wound.

The bullet remains where it lodged. Surgeons are hesitant to remove it because of its proximity to an artery. The risks outweigh the potential benefits. In time, the body might reject the bullet naturally or form a seal around it so it does not shift or enter the bloodstream. The entry area shows a bumpy discoloration but no scarring. In the meantime, he cannot lift his arm above his shoulder without burning pain. And he feels pin-prick phantom pain in the immediate area of the wound where the nerves were severed if not outright liquefied.

While not undergoing rehab and managing pain, he studies for the entrance exams of several South California police departments, including that of his hometown Buena Park, and the California Highway Patrol. He hopes to follow the public service model of the man who saved his life, Tommy McGrath, during what would become the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The final count: 59 dead, including the shooter (who shot himself), 546 wounded, over 15 lawsuits filed against the hotel, where the shooter had set up his sniper nest, and Live Nation, the concert’s organizer.

There is another count, a small number to be sure, but one that in the larger human scheme is no less important: When Jonathan Smith and Tommy McGrath reconnected after the shooting, each had found a new brother in the other.

Celebrating the man who became a hero

Celebrating the man who became a hero saving lives; our hero took a bullet (not a knee).
By George Beck, Joel Gordon, Joseph Uliano and Eddie Vega

The folks at GQ Magazine think otherwise, preferring to celebrate a millionaire athlete whose purpose is shortsighted, self-serving, and ripe with facts that don’t add up, and square-pegged narratives forced into round holes. Their hero didn’t risk greatly. Instead, he turned a false narrative into an attempt to make himself something greater than a star athlete—he sought to become a popular culture icon, and GQ perhaps gave him a much-needed lift at a time when he sorely needed, when fans and others rightfully moved on. But that’s where his story ends.

Here’s where the real story begins.

Jonathan Smith and his family drove nearly five hours from Orange County, California to Las Vegas for a festive weekend celebration of an older brother, Louis Rust’s birthday. Attending the Harvest Country Music festival was a potential tradition in the making, since Louis had attended in the past and this time sought to bring along additional family members including three nieces to share in the enjoyment of country music, excitement and energy in the Sin City. This year, Jason Aldean was headlining and the Smith’s had gotten seats close to the stage for Aldean’s prime-time performance. In the moments that followed, Smith, 30, an aspiring police officer and copy machine repairman, would turn into a national hero worthy of much praise—if of course he lived to see it.

Thanks to vacationing off-duty San Diego Police Officer Tommy McGrath, Smith would do so. McGrath, 26 was equally excited to be attending the same concert with family and friends when gunshots rang out.

Smith rescued over 30 concertgoers while many bedded down, or ran the other way. It was extreme chaos, and fear. Running the other way is natural response to the grave danger in one’s path. It’s part of the human condition that seeks to survive. And then there are those who commit extraordinary acts of heroism, those who take great risks to help others. Smith is among these heroes. His instinct to save the lives nearly cost him his when a bullet from a lunatic’s rage drove him to the pavement.

Smith lay on the ground mortally wounded, the bullet lodged in the separation between his neck and shoulder, bleeding profusely. He had seconds to survive. His guardian angel arrived. Enter Officer McGrath who stood over him and assessed his situation. Stop the bleeding, McGrath sought. Pack the wound and get him to a hospital as fast as possible, where McGrath admits he thought Smith would likely be pronounced dead.

Like most veteran officers, McGrath would say it was nothing more than, “Brother Helping Brother!” Smith cannot disagree with that, as he now refers to McGrath as his brother, recalling McGrath saying, “I will not leave you behind.”Smith’s unwavering commitment to those in need created a bond that will never be forgotten by the lives he touched. A bond that is equivalent to that of a family; however, this sense of family was not created by marriage or blood, but rather out of the love form mankind and making right when everything around seemed so wrong. This bond doesn’t see race, nor religion, or creed. It is sees humans for humans. Heart beat for heart beat.

Smith’s and McGrath’s newly formed relationship goes far deeper than one can ever image. It is a bond that can only be compared to comrades sharing a foxhole, as two individuals become one to lift the paralytic fear from each other, which can only be observed when courage is under fire. Smith’s innate desire to survive ignited a fire of instinct and heroism that can only be shared with individuals who share the same traits, which is what really brought Smith and McGrath together, a bond that can only be described as a “Warrior’s Bond.”

The connection between Smith and McGrath serves to articulate what “Brotherhood” truly stands for as their surface shows no commonalities between each other, but when we look beneath the surface we see to men fueled by the desire to give life when so many out there are willing to take it. When awarding McGrath for his actions, the critics will say, “It’s his job.” To some degree this callous and unemotional remark holds some truth, but those who stand behind the line, have a difference of opinion, as they know all too well that his actions go above and beyond the call of duty.

Now, awarding Smith falls under an unprecedented category. A man, a simple man doing nothing more than enjoying the innocence of a concert is called into action and responds with valor that is consistent to those who have lived life on the battlefield and who has witnessed the brother next to them fall, prompting the will to fight and carryon, knowing that they could fall next. For these acts of heroism, Jonathan Smith is the appropriate person worthy of the title “Citizen of the Year.”

Smith neither sought the national spotlight nor was he pushing a personal agenda. He was just someone in the right place and time when others needed him, and he answered the call. His name recognition came from a picture showing him in the hospital with a large white bandage covering the bullet hole in his neck, which was posted to the Internet and subsequently went viral bringing his act of heroism to the attention of a large audience. He doesn’t live a life of excess, nor does he wish to. His dream career is modest. He seeks to become a police officer to help others—and while doing so combat the unfortunate stigma that maligns all officers as bloodthirsty lunatics out there to kill as many innocent people as possible. Smith knows the truth.

NJ Blue Now magazine believes in recognizing true bravery and those who have taken meaningful lifesaving actions. We humbly honor those who channel their skills to force the bad out of our world so that the good can prosper and thrive. Jonathan Smith and Tommy McGrath are two such men. Saving the lives of 30 others not previously known to him without hesitation, taking a bullet in the process (not a knee), Jonathan Smith is a true hero and for that we are honored to bestow upon him our highest civilian award by naming him our 2017 Citizen of the Year.

Heroes of 2017

Heroes of 2017
By Chris Amos

Have you ever heard of Crystal Griner, David Bailey, or Henry Cabrera? How about Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, or Kevin Jobe? Not exactly household names. In fact, you could be in the same grocery store or movie theater with any one of these men or women and would never even realize it, and I suspect that is just the way these six heroes would want it.

In a day and age when the term hero is thrown around without much thought, it is an honor to recognize six selfless heroes, doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reason while risking their very lives in the process. Crystal Griner, David Bailey, and Henry Cabrera are Special Agents with the Capitol Hill Police Department. Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, and Kevin Jobe are police officers with the Alexandria, VA. Police Department. We often speak of the family who is the Thin Blue Line. On June 14, 2017 these six law enforcement officers from two different agencies truly became one family.

The day had begun like any other. About twenty-five Republican members of Congress had gathered at a ball field in Alexandria, just across the Potomac River, in the shadow of Washington D.C. The men were practicing for the Annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. They had practiced at the same time, same place for weeks. This was to be the last practice before the big game. Among those present was Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican Majority Whip in the House of Representatives. As the Majority Whip, Scalise had a security detail that accompanied him in his travels. Special Agents Crystal Griner, David Bailey, and Henry Cabrera were that detail. This would prove to be the difference between a tragic shooting that left five people injured and a suspect dead, and what those present described as what would have most certainly been a “massacre.”

About thirty minutes into the practice the first shots were fired by a 66-year-old miscreant. Scalise, standing by second base, was instantly hit as were two other men. Special Agents Griner, Bailey and Cabrera immediately responded, working to both protect the unarmed congressmen and stop the gunman who had taken cover by the third base dugout. The Special Agents, on the first base side of the field, began to return fire. The actions of the agents pinned the suspect down, greatly limiting his ability to fire at will on the exposed congressmen still out in the field.

Within three or four minutes Alexandria P.D. Officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, and Kevin Jobe arrived on scene. A few minutes earlier these officers were enjoying a beautiful, peaceful, summer morning. Now they were engaged in a firefight with a heavily armed suspect seeking to kill some of the most powerful men in Congress. Four minutes would turn to five and then to six as gunfire continued to ring out. At some point the coward gave up on targeting the exposed, unarmed, sitting ducks on the ball field and began to focus on the six law enforcement officers on scene. These officers were not cowering in some corner waiting for the cavalry. No, they were the cavalry, they were the Thin Blue Line, they were the sheep dogs standing between the defenseless, vulnerable sheep and the wolf seeking their destruction.

Special Agent Griner sustained a gunshot wound to her ankle during the gunfight. According to reports Officer Battaglia was also targeted by the gunman; but by the grace of God, she was not injured. While focused on Battaglia, the guman failed to factor in the selfless courage and resolve of the other officers at the ball field. As he fired in the direction of Battaglia, the remaining officers managed to advance on this active shooter, striking him multiple times. He would later die from his wounds. Having stopped the threat, the officers immediately moved to secure the ball field while assisting with rendering first aid to those injured.

It is important to understand not simply who the intended targets were but far more importantly what they stood for. This was not simply a random attack against a group of politicians. This was an attack against the very fiber of this great nation. This was an attack against the very core of the Republic that is the United States of America. This was an attack against life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And but for the selfless courage of these six law enforcement officers this attack would very likely have been successful. As we look back on the actions of a crazed gunman that early summer morning in June, may we not forget the bravery and selflessness of six law enforcement officers who fleshed out the very epitome of what it means to be a cop.

Special Agents Crystal Griner, David Bailey, and Henry Cabrera, Officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, and Kevin Jobe are not professional athletes. They are not famous actors or musicians. They are not Fortune 500 CEOs or College Presidents. No, they are just ordinary men and women that for 10 harrowing minutes on an early morning in June, acted in an extraordinarily heroic way.

 

 

Training – The Wolf Who Loves

THE WOLF WHO LOVES
By Jay Martinez, Former U.S. Recon Marine and Retired Detective, (active Sheepdog)

Can we go on an exploration? An odyssey that by design weighs the validity and the function of why and how we have performed certain aspects and practices throughout our time in this profession. Before we go any further into this exploration, I would like to answer those theories. Because those rituals and practices have saved us and preserved our mindset. You see, this is not a common occupation. By design, it is a unique one. After all, we are sheepdogs. Or has your white uniform shirt made you forget that term? Our sole focus is to preserve our sheep, the environment, and ultimately hunt the wolf and the pack.

But, the wolf is crafty, eager, focused, determined, strong, and hungry. He must eat! In so many ways, I have seen some sheepdogs trade places with the sheep. They have lost their mindset. They have disembarked and have gained an ulterior motive. They have now become those politicians that Sgt. Barnes spoke about in the movie Platoon, “Trying to fight with one hand tied around their testicles.”

I recall the days when officers had to break down their own weapons and spend thirty minutes cleaning them. Now, trainers break them down and a machine cleans them. I recall when officers had to clear their own malfunctions on the firing line and never be allowed to insert an empty magazine into their weapon. Now, they can softly raise their hand while a firearms Instructor walks over with a cigarette in hand and clears it for them. I recall the days when a seasoned trainer discussed the nuances of Use of Force guidelines in a classroom. Why, because the Use of Force should never be considered routine. Now, a rookie takes the test by herself at 0230 and finishes in twenty minutes. She leaves the test with a dozen questions that go unanswered. I recall when officers walked a beat, in cold or in the heat. Now it seems every officer drives around with their window rolled up. They cannot be bothered. I recall when officers cared about their community. Now it seems every officer has moved 72 miles away. I recall, when rookies knew their place. Now they want to run the agency! I recall when the tac teams sported the toughest, fittest, and most eager officers. Now they sport fat guys, who shoot like Jose Feliciano. Like Vince Lombardi, once hollered: What the hell is going on around here?

All the while the wolf smirks and exposes his fangs in the dark. The predator loves when we go soft, when we compromise our reason, function and purpose for bureaucracy, red tape, and worst of all, comfort. The wolf loves when every cop in your agency resembles a competitive pie-eater versus a lean, mean, crime fighter. The wolf also loves academies that don’t yell at recruits and grind them into pixie dust. Academies that allow the millennials and generation entitled to run things, (over my cold-dead-campaign hat, would I allow my recruits to have a say so on how the academy was to be run). The wolf also loves an agency full of reactive and non-pro-active police officers. In other words, no one is actually out there hunting the wolf. So, he runs amok.

We can see that society is producing more and more lone wolfs, hell bent on killing, maiming, and destroying. John 10:10 states The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I think we know that the Liberals would want to invite every killer, terrorist, and maniac into our country to hold hands and sing Kumbaya unto the wee hours of the morning. Well, my thorough and bad ass 3rd Battalion Marine DIs once taught me, stay alert-stay alive. This exploration and odyssey is a brain teaser and a cold reminder that if you allow your agency to become sheep-like, the wolf will spring and do what he does best, kill and then lick its paws! It is up to every officer to stay keen and focused, being lean doesn’t hurt either. So put the freaking Boston Crème down and go eat an apple. I am here to answer your training related questions, email: Jmartinez@warningorder.net. Warning Order Tactical Training for Sheepdog training! By the way, Merry Christmas, Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Jay Martinez is the founder of Warning Order—a highly specialized law enforcement training company. For more information on EDP training, visit warningorder.net

Valor Award Heroes – Officers Josh Vadell and Thomas McCabe

Heroes Among Us
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser, C.P.D. (Ret.)

“Hero,” is an overused word in our society to be sure. Some people, and rightfully so, are sometimes heroes to just one person. A father or mother can absolutely be a hero to a child, for instance. Things can get a little fuzzy; however, when movie stars and athletes are referred to as “heroes” it kind of diminishes the word. Colin Kaepernick would be a prime example.

I would submit to you that every man and woman who pins on a badge and straps on a gun are absolute heroes. Taking an oath to risk your life in the service of your community is exemplary, to say the least. Although we are many times villianized in the press, we all know different. We answer the call to protect the citizens of our communities by running toward danger while others run away; and rightfully so. It’s a small percentage of our society that would endure the hardships of our chosen profession on a daily basis for 25 years or more. Some of us, through fate, or proactive policing, as is in this case, garner what I call, “The Finest of the Finest” title.

It was 0230 hours on September 3rd, 2016, when two Atlantic City police officers were extremely observant and proactive in their patrol duties as they came upon an armed robbery in progress. According to eyewitness accounts, three suspects were attempting to rob two individuals just outside Caesars Palace parking garage, and Officers Josh Vadell and Thomas McCabe received the call. As the two officers pulled up and exited their vehicle, an immediate shot rang out and Officer Vadell was struck in the head. Officer McCabe immediately returned fire as the suspects took off running in different directions as a result of Officer McCabe’s actions. One suspect, Jerome Damon of Camden, was found dead a block and a half away by backup officers. After returning fire, 

Officer McCabe immediately went to the aid of his partner, while transmitting, “Shots fired, Officer down!” Surprisingly, after being shot in the head, Officer Vadell was talking and didn’t even realize that he had been shot. He even questioned his partner, saying, “What are you talking about?” Officer McCabe, with approximately three years law enforcement experience at the time, rushed his partner into the back seat of the patrol car as backup officers arrived. He knew in order to save his partner, time was of the essence.

Officer Josh Vadell, who’s married to Laura, and has two children, Adrianna and Vienna, said to the hospital staff, “Please don’t let me die; we’re expecting a baby (Lucy) in a few weeks.” After four hours in surgery, the doctors reportedly gave Josh a 50% chance of survival. Being the fighter that he is, Josh left Atlantic Care Medical Center in two weeks and continued his care at a rehabilitation center until November 8th.

For their actions, Josh Vadell and Thomas McCabe were recognized and honored by NJ Blue Now as this year’s Valor Award recipients, along with three other brave men from across the country, on December 4th, 2017. Officer Thomas McCabe, with the support of his fiancée, Adriana Barbarano, returned to work two weeks after the shooting, to again serve, “The city that barely sleeps.”

A Man of Valor – Patrolman Quincy Smith

Patrolman Quincy Smith, a Man of Valor.
By Joseph Pangaro, CPM

On January 1, 2016, Patrolman Quincy Smith of the Estill Police Department in South Carolina was dispatched to check out a man who had possibly shoplifted from a local store.

The suspect, 29-year-old Malcolm Orr, was spotted by Ptl. Smith walking a short distance away. Ptl. Smith attempted to stop Orr; giving him verbal commands to stop, take his hands out of his jacket pockets and come over to speak with him. Orr did not obey the officer’s commands and instead continued to walk away.    Ptl. Smith began to walk toward Orr and continued to give him orders; Ptl. Smith also drew his department-issued Taser gun and closed the distance between himself and Orr.

The two men were fairly close together when Orr abruptly pulled a handgun from his jacket pocket and fired several rounds at Ptl. Smith striking him three times, once in the neck, once in the arm and once in the hip. Ptl. Smith returned to his patrol car for cover and called his headquarters to report the shooting and ask for help. Malcolm Orr took off from the scene.

This entire event was recorded on a “body cam” of sorts. Several weeks before this incident Ptl. Smith purchased his own video recorder that was built into a pair of glasses. His agency didn’t have the funds to buy body cams and Ptl. Smith felt it would be a good piece of equipment to have, so he bought them himself. As it turned out, Orr was positively identified using the video from Ptl. Smith’s personal recording device.

This video footage of Smith’s nearly deadly encounter was shown nationwide on many news programs and as well as on Facebook and other social media sites. The reaction to it was amazing as it revealed the reality that every cop faces every day—the unexpected danger. What made it even more amazing was that as he sat in his patrol car bleeding from the gunshots, believing he was going to die, Ptl. Smith took to the police radio and told dispatch to tell his family he loved them.

I spoke to Ptl. Smith about his experience; he was very forthcoming about the incident and the lessons he learned as well as his very real brush with death. Quincy Smith is unique as a person, but he carries the traits of many of those in law enforcement:  He just wanted to keep his community safe. Serving in law enforcement was his way of doing just that.

Ptl. Smith said that what he found during the incident was how good people really are; two strangers came to his aid after the shooting and helped him as he waited for assistance and medical attention. Two of his cousins were listening on police scanners and heard the report of his shooting; they responded to the scene and prayed over him and with him while they waited for help.

I asked Ptl. Smith if he felt that he survived for a reason, and he said that he knew God was with him, he could feel his presence in those long and terrifying moments.

Ptl. Smith was out of work for several months, returning in November of 2017. The shooter, Malcom Orr, was tried and convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison for his attempt to kill Ptl. Smith.

Ptl. Smith has a great attitude and he is grateful for those strangers who helped him in his time of need. He appreciates every day of life and understands how precious it is. On Dec. 4, 2017, NJ Blue Now awarded Ptl. Smith with a Valor award for his actions on the day he was shot. Ptl. Smith told me he was overwhelmed when the magazine staff called him to tell him he was being honored and that everyone involved treated him very well.

He tells his story now to other police officers to help them prepare to react and survive a deadly encounter, which as he says from experience, “Can happen at any time.”

Congratulations, Ptl. Smith, our profession is distinguished because of officers like you.