Not just a job, a profession

Sheriff’s Department swears in 17 new people

Even as Undersheriff Andrew Conte called the swearing-in of 17 new sheriff’s officers on Dec. 2 “a great day for Hudson County,” many of the hundreds that crowded the court chambers of Presiding Judge Peter F. Bariso, Jr. felt the tension associated with the slaughter of 14 people in California earlier in the day.
“There are no more safe havens,” said County Executive Tom DeGise. “Officers like these become our first line of defense. They will try to keep us safe and hopefully, in doing their jobs, also keep themselves safe.”
Earlier in the day, two suspects were killed after they had attacked a holiday party for government workers in a program designed to help disabled people.
In a solemn moment in an otherwise celebratory occasion, County Sheriff Frank X. Schillari said people who take up a public safety career put their lives at risk, noting that in 2015, 116 police officers nationwide (three from New Jersey) lost their lives in the line of duty. In the previous week and half, three police officers had died.
Although these officers had spent 17 weeks at the Morris County police academy and will spend the next six months in additional in-the-field training, Schillari said every day is a risk, and each time they leave home for work there is no guarantee they will return safely.

“Officers like these become our first line of defense. They will try to keep us safe and hopefully, in doing their jobs, also keep themselves safe.” – Tom DeGise
Even Judge Bariso said officers often have to bring people into court who do not want to be there – sometimes dangerous people.
But Schillari said being a sheriff’s officer is not just a job, it’s a profession, and that in their dealings with people officers should treat everybody with respect.
In this, Schillari was alluding to many of the social issues that affect Hudson County and the nation, including bias against Muslims. A sheriff’s officer is currently being investigated for allegedly posting anti-Muslim rhetoric on a Facebook page.
Schillari told the new officers that they live in the most diverse county in the state, and need to be respectful.
Freeholder Anthony Romano, who is a retired Hoboken police captain, told them that they were part of a system.
“There is no ‘I’ in law enforcement, there is only ‘we,’” Romano said. “What you do you do as a group. In the academy you got a lot of book learning, but you have to balance that with common sense.”

17 new badges

With dozens of family members in attendance, 12 new sheriff’s officers and five new sheriff’s investigators received their badges, officially bringing them into the department. Of these, 10 the new hires are of Hispanic heritage and one is of Arabic descent.
“This is a very significant day for the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and it shows our continued commitment to hire qualified diverse individuals,” said Schillari. “These new hires have demonstrated the commitment, honor, and sense of duty to protect the residents of Hudson County.”
Two of the new sheriff’s officers are military veterans who once deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan; in addition, two other new hires have experience in public safety under the departments of state corrections and Hudson County Corrections.
The new sheriff’s investigators are: Christopher Crossley, Makhil Kowlessar, Eric Negron, Mark Santos (Police Academy Academic Award) and Nicholas Tanelli.
Joining them are new sheriff’s officers: Michael Gregory, Angel Santiago (State Corrections), Jorge Orejuela (Veteran), Renato Maure, Jimmy Gonzalez, Gregory Nicholson (Veteran/State Corrections), Eduardo Mena-Ramos, Yanira Velazquez, Jonathan Gil, Biron Mendoza (County Corrections), Alan Elawady and George Somarriba.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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