TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday signed an executive order Friday that directs all State buildings to fly flags at half-staff on Monday, June 5, 2017, in recognition of the life and in mourning of the passing of Summit Police Detective Matthew Tarentino, a resident of Somerville.
Tarentino, 29, was killed in a three-car collision on Route 78 in Bernards on Tuesday, May 30.
More than 1,000 police officers and thousands of mourners are expected to honor Tarentino Sunday and Monday at Immaculate Conception RC Church, 35 Mountain Ave. Viewing will be from 4-8 p.m. Sunday and a funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday.
Borough police have been busy making preparations for the heavy influx of visitors and resultant traffic expected both Sunday and Monday. It is a fluid process, according to Somerville Police Capt. Joseph Clymore, with contingency plans undergoing constant revisions. Police will be located at key intersections to re-route traffic from the affected area both days.
Mountain Avenue will be closed to traffic portions of both days between West End Avenue and Route 22, according to Clymore.
Raised in Somerville, Tarentino graduated from Immaculata High School in Somerville, and later went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a minor in Spanish from Rutgers University. Tarentino joined the Summit Police department in 2012, having previously served as an officer in the Rutgers Police Department and the South Bound Brook Police Department. He was assigned to the Community Policing Unit, a vital Unit that made him the Summit Police Department’s D.A.R.E Program Officer.
Along with the Summit Police Department, Detective Tarentino was recently honored by the New Jersey Attorney General as the 2017 recipient of the Attorney General’s Outstanding Community Policing Award.
“Detective Tarentino was a loving husband, father, son, and brother, whose memory will live in the hearts of his family, friends, community, and fellow members of the Summit Police Department,” Christie said. “He served his State with courage, professionalism, and commitment to the finest ideals and traditions of the Summit Police Department. It is with deep sadness that we mourn the loss of Detective Tarentino, and we extend our sincerest sympathy to his family and loved ones.”
The Executive Order reads as follows:
WHEREAS, Summit Police Detective Matthew Tarentino was raised and resided in Somerville, New Jersey;
and WHEREAS, Detective Tarentino attended Immaculate Conception School and graduated from Immaculata High School, both in Somerville;
and WHEREAS, Detective Tarentino earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a minor in Spanish from Rutgers University;
and WHEREAS, Detective Tarentino joined the Summit Police Department in 2012, having previously served as an officer in the Rutgers Police Department and the Bound Brook Police Department; and WHEREAS, Detective Tarentino was assigned to the Community Policing Unit, served as the Summit Police Department’s D.A.R.E. Program Officer, and was posthumously promoted to the rank of Detective;
and WHEREAS, along with the Summit Police Department, Detective Tarentino was recently honored by the New Jersey Attorney General as the 2017 recipient of the Attorney General’s Outstanding Community Policing Award; and WHEREAS, on May 30, 2017, Detective Tarentino tragically passed away following a motor vehicle accident;
and WHEREAS, Detective Tarentino was a loving husband, father, son, and brother, whose memory will live in the hearts of his family, friends, community, and fellow members of the Summit Police Department;
and WHEREAS, Detective Tarentino served his State with courage, professionalism, and commitment to the finest ideals and traditions of the Summit Police Department;
and 2 WHEREAS, it is with deep sadness that we mourn the loss of Detective Tarentino, and we extend our sincerest sympathy to his wife, children, family, friends, and fellow members of the Summit Police Department; and WHEREAS, it is appropriate and fitting for the State of New Jersey to mark Detective Tarentino’s passing and to honor his memory;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHRIS CHRISTIE, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:
The flag of the United States of America and the flag of New Jersey shall be flown at half-staff at all State departments, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities during appropriate hours on Monday, June 5, 2017, in recognition of the life of and in mourning for the passing of a brave and loyal hero, Summit Police Detective Matthew Tarentino, Badge No. 121.
Following the funeral mass Monday, a procession will proceed from the church down Mountain Avenue, on to Route 22 and Route 287 and head to Resurrection Cemetery, 899 East Lincoln Ave. in Piscataway for graveside services, according to Clymore.
Multiple police departments and the New Jersey State Police will be involved securing the state highway, the interstate and local roadways to facilitate the funeral procession.
Traffic delays are expected on Route 22 and Route 287.
Monsignor Seamus Brennan, rector of Immaculate Conception, will preside at the funeral mass.
Immaculate Conception School and Immaculata High School will be closed on Monday, according to the monsignor, to allow teachers and staff to attend the Mass. He and his wife, Vickie, attended both schools.The couple was well known in the parish. Both come from long-established Somerville families.
Tarentino’s widow is Marketing Director at the high school; his mother-in-law is the music teacher at Immaculate Conception.
Tarentino was also president of the Immaculate Conception School Advisory Council, working with Msgr. Brennan and Sister Mary Chapman, school principal on curriculum, technology in the classroom, planning programs and activities.
The Tarentino’s were married in 2011 and have two young sons, ages 2 and 3; his wife is expected to deliver their third child in August.
“Clearly, this is a difficult time for the family, the church and the parish,” Rev. Brennan said, “but we will soldier on and support the family however we can. He will be greatly missed by his parish family.
“This is also a huge loss for the Summit Police Department,” he added. “They loved him as a police officer and as a friend.”
The Summit Police Athletic League (PAL) has established an online donation site to for the family.
The page is located on the 'compassionate crowdfunding' portal youcaring.com, and has set a goal of $500,000. The link is https://www.youcaring.com/victoriatarentino-835682
As of 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the fund had raised $383,040.
Tarentino’s involvement with Immaculate Conception School goes back to his years as a student there in the late 1990s. After graduating eighth grade, he attended Immaculata High School, graduating in 2006; his wife graduated in 2005
Tarentino was a member of the marching band and concert band and played varsity tennis while a student at IHS, according to Ken Greg, a 1983 graduate of IHS who lives a few blocks from the Tarentinos. Both families have been friends going back several generations. Greg took drum lessons at Connie's a music studio on Davenport Street that was owned by Tarentino's grandfather and in later years, his father.
"I'd describe him as one of the nicest people I ever met, he had a good soul and never had a bad word to say about anybody," Greg said.
The accident occurred at 6:20 a.m. May 30 when a car headed westbound on Route 78 in Bernards crossed over the grass median and struck Tarentino’s vehicle, who was headed east. Tarentino's vehicle then struck another car, according to State Police.
The driver of the car that crossed the median and struck Tarentino's vehicle died at Morristown Medical Center later that afternoon. The third driver, who was struck by Tarentino's car, was also transported to Morristown Medical Center with non-threatening injuries. State Police identified the third driver as 54-year-old Larry Staley of Easton, Pa.
Tarentino was the Summit Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, and was a familiar fixture in Summit’s schools, where he conducted DARE programs.
He was on his way to speak with a group of 5th-graders about the dangers of drug abuse when the accident occurred.
Two weeks ago he had received his certification to be a DARE mentor, trained to educate other police officers to work with the program. He was one of 20 DARE police officers enrolled in the program, held at the Somerville Elks Lodge 1068 in Bridgewater.
“This loss has greatly affected not only our law enforcement community and the citizens of the city of Summit, but people far and wide,” said Summit Police Chief Robert Weck.
“Matthew Tarentino epitomized what a law enforcement officer should be: a respected, trusted colleague with unshakeable dedication and enthusiasm for his calling. He was the face of the department’s community policing unit and understood the importance of building relationships within Summit. During his short time with us, Matt created a lasting imprint on our department and the city. While Officer Matthew Tarentino may be gone, he will never be forgotten.”
The Summit Police Department has promoted Tarentino to the rank of Detective posthumously.