BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Police officers are trained to respond to emergencies - but sometimes, as Bernards Township Police Chief Brian Bobowicz pointed out, it's the type of training they never want to put into action in real life.
Neverthless, Bobowicz said township Sgt. Jon Burger did just that when he drove a police vehicle in the direction of an "active shooter" in nearby Warren Township who had made it impossible for two Warren officers to come out of cover without facing his bullets.
"These two Warren officers were already shot at," Burger recalled after receiving an award for his bravery for the incident at Tuesday night's Bernards Township Committee on Tuesday night.
The rescue of the officers had actually taken place in August 2015, and Burger has since received a number of awards and citations, as well as commendation during one of Bobowicz's periodic police department reports before the Township Committee.
But Burger, who has been a Bernards Township police officer for 20 years and a staff sergeant for eight years, said after the meeting that being recognized by the township meant the most to him.
On Tuesday, before presenting the resolution to Burger, Bernards Deputy Mayor John Carpenter, who is also the police commissioner on the Township Committee said the township had previously recognized Burger's valor "but we forgot to tell Jon."
Carpenter noted that the police department and Township Committee, in recognizing the department officers' achievements in December 2015, had presented Burger with a Meritorious Service Award "for a highly unusual accomplishment under adverse conditions with some degree of hazard to life and limb." He added that was a bit of an understatement.
Along with members of Bernards police department, members of the Warren police force were also at Tuesday's meeting, along with Sgt. Bill Brown of the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson, a resident of Bernards Township, was also at the meeting.
Brown later said he provided cover for Burger as he drove the car in the direction of the armed shooter.
"I am very humbled by this award, and I accept it on behalf of the officers involved," Burger said after being presented by the resolution at the meeting.
Burger recalled that the armed man exited the Warren home by a back door and later shot shot himself.
Burger's response to free the two Warren Township officers from "a life-threatening situation" had also earned him the Somerset County Chiefs of Police Valor Award, the Somerset County 200 Club Valor Award, the New Jersey Police Chiefs Foundation of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Valor Award, and the New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association Bronze Medal of Honor.