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Journalist Comes to Defense of Police Salaries

Journalist Comes to Defense of Police Salaries


By Jerry DeMarco | Publisher/Editor

September 22, 2010

BERGEN COUNTY, NJ – The suits at The Star-Ledger made a huge display of reporting last weekend that New Jersey police salaries are the highest in the land. To paraphrase a man who puts his life on the line every day to protect his community: Does a bullet feel any different if it’s fired in, say, Lyndhurst, than it does in Paterson? Know how many cops have been killed in the line of duty in Lyndhurst? Four. In Paterson? The same.

Top of the heap in cop salaries, the newspaper said, is Bergen County — coincidentally one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. In fact, the story began with a cop in Closter, where I’ve lived the past few months.

You know how often I’ve seen Closter police respond to accidents and other incidents? A lot. Sometimes they’re dealing with dead people inside wrecked vehicles, other times with domestic disputes, and sometimes with weapons calls. At no time can they be 100 percent a seemingly routine incident won’t turn into a dangerous confrontation.

Ask police in hoity-toity Glen Rock, where a drunken man threatened to shoot three officers last night, then got into a fistfight with them.

Or try New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro:

After rushing to a report of a vehicle stuck in a ditch, two of his officers came up against a familiar face — that of 59-year-old Daniel Cardinali, who just weeks earlier tangled with patrolmen sent to his house.

This time, Cardinali began swinging a club before he was subdued — the eighth time this summer a police officer in tiny, working-class New Milford was attacked.

“When people complain about how much officers are paid, they should ask themselves if they could stand up to situations such as these and conduct themselves as professionally as did these officers,” Papapietro said. “They should ask themselves if they could even keep from running away."

I’ve been in journalism 30 years and I never saw a colleague do anything beyond ask questions, take notes or take photos. I had a knife put to my throat in a Perth Amboy housing project while on an assignment late one weekend night. How many other “journalists” can say the same?

Let’s imagine, for a moment, a state without arbitration, where legions of police simply walk off the job. First thing anyone would be doing is begging them to come back.

The irony of the “expose” is difficult to miss: The reporters and editors poring over police salaries with magnifying glasses are the first ones to go knocking on the chief’s door, asking for news about arrests, accidents, triple-ax murders, mayor’s cat caught in a tree, etc.

And police are somehow supposed to bite their tongues and help the very same people who are trying to turn the taxpayers against them?

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