MORRISTOWN, NJ - As the nation debates the use of deadly force by police, five officers are being honored for resolving dangerous situations without opening fire in three separate incidents in Morris County.
The five police officers, including officers Matthew Belcastro and Jeffrey Battiloro of Chatham Borough, are among 30 first responders being honored by the 200 Club of Morris County at its Valor and Meritorious Awards Dinner April 30 at Birchwood Manor in Whippany. The other first-responders are being honored for their work at two fires in Roxbury.
This also is the first year that two civilians are being cited for their assistance to police. One is Chatham resident Brian Hart, a retired police officer.
All of the award-winners are being honored for going above and beyond the call of duty at incidents in Morris County during 2014. Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians who put their lives at risk earn the Valor Award. Those whose work was above and beyond the call of duty are awarded the Meritorious Service Award.
“We’re very lucky to have individuals like these keeping us safe here in Morris County,” Lou Nisivoccia, president of the 200 Club, said. “It’s an honor to recognize their good work.”
Three local police officers, one state trooper and one retired officer found themselves in deadly confrontations in separate incidents. Although their lives were threatened, they were able to resolve the situation without resorting to deadly force. Honored in those incidents are:
Belcastro and Battiloro; Kinnelon Patrolman Douglas Shortway, and State Trooper James Hamill. Below is a description of the incident that could have led to deadly force, but didn't because of the actions of the officers and civilian Brian Hart. Click here for more on the arrest.
Chatham Borough Police Officers Jeffrey Battiloro and Matthew Belcastro, and retired New York City Police Officer Brian Hart. Battiloro and Belcastro were hurt trying to subdue a suspect who attempted to cash a fraudulent bank withdrawal slip. Battiloro arrived at the bank first and challenged the suspect inside the bank. The suspect attacked Battiloro. The two struggled, falling over furniture and displays. Battiloro was struck repeatedly in the chest as he tried to hang on to the suspect. With Battiloro suffering from chest, leg, back, hip and shoulder injuries from the fight, the suspect was able to break free. Belcastro arrived just as the suspect broke Battiloro’s grip. Belcastro took up the pursuit, at one point grabbing the suspect. They fell to the street and Belcastro struck his shoulder, breaking his collar bone. Nevertheless, he got up and continued the pursuit, cornering the suspect. Belcastro drew his weapon, but the suspect charged at him. Despite his injuries, Belcastro was able to secure his weapon and wrestle the man to the ground. Hart, a Chatham resident, saw the scuffle and assisted Belcastro as he handcuffed the suspect. The two injured officers will receive the Award of Valor and Hart will receive the Meritorious Service Award.
Dinner tickets and sponsorships are available by calling the 200 Club at (732) 279-4258.
Since its inception in 1971, the 200 Club of Morris County has distributed more than $4 million in benefits to police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services workers and their families. Benefits take the form of survivor benefits to the families who have lost a spouse who was a first-responder and scholarships that have been awarded to children of emergency workers in Morris County. The organization also recognizes the heroic actions of those who keep the public safe and secure.