As a proud subscriber to Montclair Local, I have, over a period of time read letters regarding police issues in our town by former Chief Thomas Russo and I am amazed at what he shares to aid and abet us on our journey of staying safe.

As a fourth-generation proud Montclairian, I know the Montclair Police Department has been and always will be there not just for my family, but for everyone. From the time my dear great grandmother was trampled to death by the hooves of Jacobsen's Sports Truck on a dreadfully snowy night in the early ‘30s, the police were there. At one point in time an officer had to live in the town to be on the force. While I lived on Midland Avenue, Officer Gus Rousch was next door, across the street was Officer Bill Durning, my backyard ran into Officer Chuck Commeta's house and a few doors down was Officier Sal Gervasi. When I graduated from Montclair High School, my picture was on the same page as Chief Thomas J. Russo. I was surrounded by safety throughout my entire life.

In 2008, when I was invited to Centenary University, as the first graduate that was an author to have a signing there, my agent had me arrive with an entourage of eight people, of which Chief Thomas Russo was included. As my book, “Death Of A Bebop Wife,” involved physical abuse, and a murder in the Montclair Heights Section of Clifton, my agent wanted to have Russo be a part of the presentation. I had no clue what he was going to say to the parlors packed with students, faculty and Citizens of Hackettstown.

When it came time for Russo to speak, his words were spoken in a straight-shooter way. He said:

"Seventy percent of you in the audience are physically and psychologically abused," and he continued with hard facts in a rat-a-tat way. The audience was riveted, and so was I. After the event, people of all ages were coming up to thank him for sharing what was an unbelievable part of their lives they were afraid to admit or even connect to. People were grateful for his focus and so was I.

When I happened to be in a local eatery, Montclair's Bobby Martinelli, was quoting one of the letters to the editor Russo had submitted, speaking to jazz musician, and life long Montclairian: Bruce Tyler who also quoted two different letters, and, in unison, I joined them, saying, "We are so lucky Chief Russo continues to connect with Montclair Local."

Grange Rutan Habermann


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