MATAWAN/ABERDEEN, NJ - Men and women put on their uniform every day in New Jersey to protect and serve the public.
They protect and serve regardless of the noise and antics from folks who don't appreciate the difficult role of a police officer. Professional officers work just as hard for those who malign law enforcement, as they work for the vast majority of citizens who truly appreciate the commitment of law enforcement each and every day.
It is hard work and requires stamina and strength under consistent pressure.Tragically, some don't make it home. They are shot at, physically and verbally attacked and manage multiple risks each and every day. Yet, even for those who have deep wells of stamina and strength - tragedy strikes.
It struck again - this time in Aberdeen with a 39-year-old officer, Edward Nortrup. Nortrup is a Police Office in Roselle Park. Initial reports are that he died by suicide after a motor vehicle accident in Matawan. If true, this tragedy is part of a continued crisis in law enforcement locally and across the country.
It was reported that in NJ alone there were 17 police officers who died by suicide last year, and 37 officers have taken their own lives since 2016. In August 2019, NJ State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal took steps to protect the physical and emotional well-being of law enforcement officers by launching the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement. The program's goal is to provided officers with the tools they need to cope with the unique stressors of their jobs.
“We cannot fully comprehend the emotional and mental stress that our law enforcement officers suffer on a daily basis,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We owe it to them to not only combat the stigma associated with seeking help, but also to give them the tools they need to deal with the stress and trauma they endure. It is our hope that this first-in-the-nation program will serve as a first line of communication allowing officers to unburden job stresses and provide them with the support they deserve. We can no longer allow them to suffer in silence.”
A Facebook post from his official departments page was recently issued:
"It is with tremendous sadness that Police Chief Daniel J. McCaffery announces the passing of Roselle Park Police Officer Edward Nortrup. Patrolman Nortrup was a 13 year veteran of the Roselle Park Police Department. Patrolman Nortrup was a co-worker, friend, and a brother. Patrolman Nortrup attended the John H. Stamler Police Academy graduating in 2007. Patrolman Nortrup served in the Detective Bureau, and had been a member of the Union County Emergency Response Team. Always willing to help others, Patrolman Nortrup was a well-respected member of the law-enforcement community, and will be sorely missed. We would ask that you respect the privacy of the family during this time of grieving."
The pressure has been on the Governor and NJ Legislature to take meaningful action. On Monday, they issued a release on a few new measures.
“New Jersey’s law enforcement officers are the finest in the nation and we will take every step necessary to ensure their safety both in the line of duty and off-duty,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to sign legislation that will support the officers who dedicate every day to us.”
“Each and every day our law enforcement officers risk their personal safety and well-being to serve our communities. We owe it to our officers to protect them not only from the dangers they face on the job, but also from the effects of daily trauma," said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
"Last year, the Governor and I addressed the largest gathering of law enforcement officers ever assembled in New Jersey at our statewide Resiliency Summit, which laid the foundation for this groundbreaking work. Today, we join our law enforcement community as we mourn the loss of Patrolman Edward Nortrup of the Roselle Park Police Department," said Grewel.
"Among the threats that a law enforcement officer may confront, perhaps no two things are more preventable than officers being unintentionally struck by motorists and officer suicide," said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. "This legislation will help raise public awareness about the importance of the 'Move Over Law' and will create essential training for law enforcement so that officers know how to get the help and support they need, but most importantly, it will help save lives."
The specific law is A1028 (Johnson Pinkin, Lampitt/Weinberg, Oroho) - It establishes a training program to prevent suicide by law enforcement officers. New Jersey launched a program: NJ Cop2Cop, a 24-hour peer support program for NJ Law Enforcement Officers and their families that is run by retired and active duty police. The helpline number is (866) COP2COP (866-267-2267).