WOOD-RIDGE, N.J. -- Three Mahwah police officers, one from Lyndhurst and a special 9-year-old girl shared the stage with Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. in Wood-Ridge during an SRO celebration Monday night of those who protect and serve the U.S.
Deadly violence following incidents in Ferguson and Baltimore, along with the unrest in Chicago last week, echo the Sixties, Clarke told more than 500 law enforcement officers and their loved ones who packed the Fiesta ballroom for the NJ BlueNOW Magazine event.
"Please don't call them protesters," Clarke said. "That is not protest. That is rebellion."
Mainstream media and "gasbag politicians" feed the anarchists' frenzy, said Clarke, the cowboy hat-wearing Democratic sheriff from Milwaukee County and frequent Fox News contributor. "They stir up anger and hate and stoke it to a rage.
"They've never had to stare down the barrel of a gun. They've never had to chase anyone down an alley at night. And they're going to tell us how to do our jobs?"
Instead of ride-alongs, the guest of honor said, politicians and media critics should "sign up and try doing the job."
What needs attention isn't policing but the inner cities' "poor schools, ineffective parenting, black-on-black crime, child abuse and domestic violence," Clarke said.
"We are more professional, we are more educated, we are better-trained today than at any time in our history," he told the attendees. "Stay together, have each other's backs -- out in the field, emotionally. And dammit, keep your heads held high. America needs you, and they know it."
Passaic County Sheriff's Officer Daniel Del Valle, NJ BlueNOW's founder and editor-in-chief, urged the crowd to "unite with action and not just with words. Let's really do it the way real family members do."
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik of Franklin Lakes led a moment of silence for several officers who recently died in the line of duty -- among them, NJ State Trooper Sean E. Cullen, who was struck and killed while assisting at a vehicle fire and was buried earlier Monday, and Prince Georges County Detective Jacai Colson, who was killed when three brothers ambushed a Landover, Md., police station over the weekend.
Kerik also read from awards that Clarke presented to:
Mahwah Police Lt. Jeffrey Dino, Sgt. Brendan Mullin and Officer Tom Solimano, accompanied by little Sofya Doroshenko -- who jumped three floors into their arms during a fire last month at the Society Hill condominium complex;
Lyndhurst Police Officer Michael Keane, who saved several passengers after an Amtrak train derailed last May in Philadelphia, killing eight and injuring more than 200;
Army Ranger Kris "Tanto" Paranto, who was part of a CIA security team that rescued dozens during terrorattacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 -- recounted in the book and film "13 Hours";
Army Ranger Brian Mast, who became a double-amputee after he was struck by an IED in September 2010 while protecting fellow troops in Afghanistan.