Acting AG Bruck Announces Recipients of 2021 Excellence in Policing Awards

In the MidJersey.News coverage area:

The Police Chaplain of the Year: Pastor John R. Taylor of Friendship Baptist Church in Trenton, who is Chief Chaplain of the New Jersey State Police.

The Outstanding Youth Engagement Award: Patrolwoman Charleigh Logothetis of the Hazlet Township Police Department.

December 17, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)—Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the winners of this year’s Excellence in Policing Awards during a virtual ceremony that highlighted the tremendous service displayed by New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies, officers, and professionals.

For video of the event: https://youtu.be/smKt517ko0Q

Now in their second year, the annual Excellence in Policing Awards reflect the comprehensive package of policy initiatives advanced by the Attorney General’s Office, designed to encourage and reinforce the Garden State’s commitment to building a national model for strengthening trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

“Today we honor these officers, professionals, and departments, who, through their exemplary service and innovation, have stood out as representing the best of New Jersey’s law enforcement,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “I’m honored to present these awards to dedicated public servants who are committed to keeping our residents safe, promoting resiliency among our officer ranks, and building greater trust between law enforcement and the public.”

The following Excellence in Policing Awards were awarded today:

The Detective Joseph Seals Valor Award honors a police officer or officers who demonstrated an act of extraordinary bravery or heroism in the line of duty. The award honors Detective Joseph Seals, a 13-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, who lost his life in the line of duty in December 2019. Detective Seals’ actions in December 2019 likely saved the lives of many others. Detective Seals was not a stranger to heroism; in 2008, he broke through a window and stopped the rape of a 41-year-old woman on Christmas Eve. This year the Detective Joseph Seals Valor Award is presented to the Borough of Carteret Police Department. On July 23, 2021, nine officers— Lt. John Kelly, Detective Louis Maldonado, Detective Raul Martinez, Detective Anthony Ramos, Detective Eric Guzman, Detective Justin Craig, Officer Michael Kelly, Officer Javier Borrero, and Officer Derrick Clavijo—responded to a fire at Bristol Station Apartments, and directed and safely evacuated all occupants out of fire-engulfed Building #4, and then helped evacuate occupants out of nearby Building #6. The officers then remained at the scene to assist the Fire Department.

The Detective Pablo Santiago Resiliency Award honors a law enforcement officer who developed an innovative program or initiative to improve officer safety and wellness. It is named for Mercer County Sheriff’s Office Detective Pablo Santiago, who lost his life to suicide in December 2018. Detective Santiago’s untimely death was the inspiration for the Attorney General’s Statewide Law Enforcement Resiliency Program. The Detective Pablo Santiago Resiliency Award is presented to Lt. William Walsh of the Voorhees Township Police Department and the Multi-Agency Police Peer Support (MAPPS) team. Lt. Walsh spearheaded the program in 2020 in collaboration with the Voorhees, Cherry Hill, and Gloucester Township police departments to bridge the needs of officers recovering from work-related traumatic events, and to create an environment accepting of those seeking assistance. Officers or civilian staff from the three departments may reach out to peer officers for support.

The Attorney General’s Community Outreach Award honors a county prosecutor’s office or police department that exhibited outstanding community outreach efforts. This year the Attorney General’s Community Outreach Award is presented to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. In September 2020, BCPO partnered with Bergen County law enforcement and the Bergen County Sherriff’s Office to create the Community Engagement Task Force (CETF) to address residents’ needs and build stronger relationships between law and enforcement and the community. For example, during the pandemic, CETF partnered with local groups to deliver food to vulnerable residents over a seven-month period, and helped local seniors to avoid scams.

The Outstanding Community Partnership Award honors a county prosecutor’s office or police department that has implemented or strengthened a community partnership or collaboration with community stakeholders to advance public safety. This year, the Outstanding Community Partnership Award is presented to the West Orange Police Department, who partnered with the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris to create a co-responder model where trained clinicians respond with police on mental health crisis calls. This community-related response facilitates treatment for those who need it, while reducing involvement in the criminal justice system.

The Police Chaplain of the Year honors an exceptional chaplain who goes above and beyond the normal duties of a police chaplain to serve the needs of the department and community. This year the Police Chaplain of the Year is Pastor John R. Taylor of Friendship Baptist Church in Trenton, who is Chief Chaplain of the New Jersey State Police. Pastor Taylor is responsible for overseeing 20 police chaplains of various denominations, is an integral contributor to the statewide dialogue on police-community relations, is a long-time law enforcement trainer, and has been instrumental in advancing community policing in tandem with NJSP and other law enforcement agencies throughout the State.

The Outstanding Youth Engagement Award honors a law enforcement officer who designed and implemented an innovative program or initiative to promote stronger police-youth engagement. The Outstanding Youth Engagement Award is presented to Patrolwoman Charleigh Logothetis of the Hazlet Township Police Department. In October 2021, Officer Logothetis pioneered the HTPD’s Inaugural Special Needs Open House, an impactful program designed to build a positive foundation with the community, especially concentrating on youth with special needs, while collaborating with local and statewide programs and organizations.