The Blue Centurions

This is a follow-up on my letter “War on Cops,” published in the Aug. 24 edition of Montclair Local.

According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, 148 police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year. Sad, but true, what a commentary for the United States of America. This trend of killing police officers across this great country of ours has become fashionable.

Segments of the criminal element feel they have a green light to shoot and kill police officers to get even for people who have been shot by police. Disrespect for law enforcement and mistrust is at its highest level.

Today I viewed a post on Facebook by NFL player Isaiah Crowell, who plays for the Cleveland Browns, showing a man wearing a black hood with his hand over the mouth of a uniformed police officer, holding his head back while slicing his throat with a knife with blood pouring out of his neck. (Editor’s note: The picture referred to by the above letter writer was posted and immediately deleted in the summer of 2016. Crowell posted the picture in reaction to the killing of two black men — Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana — by white police officers, and was widely criticized. Crowell issued an apology shortly after and pledged to donate his first game check of the season to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation. )

Why is this tolerated in America, an athlete who plays a game for two hours on a Sunday, tossing a ball around making millions of dollars vs. police officers putting their lives on the line 24/7 making $60,000. The real heroes are the police, not the NFL football players refusing to stand for our national anthem.

During a conversation I had recently with some police administrators, they told me that a lot of the young police officers today start their tour of duty with the “feeling of being shot while doing their duty” and wonder if they will return home to their families at the end of their tour. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to know that this is not a healthy situation that can lead to unfortunate consequences at the drop of a hat, for both the police and the violator.

Are there problem police officers? Absolutely; however they are in a small minority and will be held accountable by police administrators. Fortunately for us, the police officers in Montclair are highly trained and led by a trio of experienced, dedicated and highly respected command officers in the likes of Chief Todd Conforti, Deputy Chief Tracy Frazzano, and Deputy Chief Wilhelm Young. We also have a mayor and council who support our police department and have provided them with the necessary tools to perform their duties. The Township of Montclair can be very proud of their police department and “the Legacy of Leadership” since its inception.

Remember, police officers put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of society, and have the same trials and tribulations, but still come to work every day, putting their lives on the line to serve and protect the citizens of Montclair.

I respect the views expressed by Margret Mikkelsen in her letter to the editor, and her rights to do so. However, the facts speak for themselves; too many cops are being shot and killed and it has to stop.

Thomas J. Russo


The author is former chief of police and director of public safety for Montclair.