A New Jersey State Police trooper paralyzed while racing to stop a holdup and his father — a 30-year trooper who retired as a lieutenant colonel — were among those receiving honors from the State Troopers Coalition at the Venetian in Garfield Wednesday night.
Also honored was Cherie Castellano, director of UMDNJ’s unique “Cop 2 Cop” program, the first of its kind in the United States, which provides suicide prevention counseling for officers who need a safe place to discuss their situations without judgment or sanctions.
“Cop 2 Cop” includes a 24/7 crisis hotline staffed by dozens of former law enforcement officers trained as peer counselors. It has received nationwide recognition under Castellano, who launched it less than a year before working with the NYPD at Ground Zero organizing stress debriefings.
“Cops don’t historically like mental health specialists,” Castellano once said. “They see a psychologist and think, ‘There’s the guy who could end my career.’ “
Among the honorees were retired NJSP Lt. Col. William Malast and his son, Trooper Brian Malast, who was on his way to a call in South Jersey seven years ago this month when a vehicle cut him off, sending his car into a tree and ejecting him.
Also honored were Morris County Sheriff Edward Rochford, who received the State Troopers Coalition’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award for his 47 years in law enforcement, and the coalition’s 2012 Man of the Year, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr., who is approaching 30 years of serving New Jersey’s 6th congressional district.
(PUBLISHER’S NOTE: I will be receiving the coalition’s “Excellence in Media” award. TOP PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, “Cop 2 Cop” Director Cherie Castellano, Morris County Sherif Edward Rochford, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Publisher/Editor Jerry DeMarco )
Unit citations were also awarded for meritorious service and valor to state troopers from the tri-state area.
The NPDF provides medical and legal support services for law enforcement officers nationwide, while administering a variety of public and child safety programs.
Twenty-five percent of the proceeds of Wednesday night’s $100-a-plate dinner will go to “Operation Kids,” a special program run by the NPDF that runs mercy missions to help children in poor counties get life saving surgeries.