FAIRFIELD, NJ — The Fairfield Police Department (FPD) is currently spearheading a special initiative to honor all veterans of the United States Armed Forces, but specifically the sacrifice made by Fairfield resident Corporal Neal David Epifanio, who was killed in action 50 years ago on Sept. 3, 1969 in Vietnam, according to Fairfield Mayor James Gasparini.

Throughout the month of November, all Fairfield police officers will be wearing olive drab uniforms that were specifically made for this purpose, including wearing a lapel pin of Corporal Epifanio’s 502 Infantry Unit.

The “Honor Our Heroes” initiative will begin at West Essex High School on Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. with a reception for all honored guests as well as police officers and local politicians, followed by an assembly for the students in the gym.

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After the assembly, the veterans will have an opportunity to visit classrooms and speak to students about their service, experiences and the sacrifices made by all our veterans so that freedom and liberty always prevail. Any veteran who would like to participate in this event is urged to contact Sharon McNamara at the police department or at smcnamara@fairfieldnj.org.

The Fairfield Police Foundation (FPF) recently sent out fundraising letters with a black and white FPF seal on the envelope to all businesses and residences. According to Gasparini, many have inquired whether this solicitation was legitimate and if it directly benefits local officers.

“We want you to know this is a legitimate fundraiser with the funds directly benefiting our police officers,” he said.

The second annual FPF gala held this month at il Tulipano was a major success, raising approximately $54,000 in support of the department’s training, equipment and charitable efforts.

Thanks to the efforts of the FPF, the FPD recently purchased new traffic/speed survey equipment to replace outdated and broken equipment and has begun conducting traffic surveys on Law Drive, Hollywood Avenue and Greenbrook Road. Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna will report the results of these endeavors during a future township council meeting.

During last week’s council meeting, resident Michele Picarelli and her son, Andrew, described the speeding that takes place on her block, Law Drive. According to Picarelli, it is dangerous for families to walk outside when cars are driving at least 50 miles per hour down her street.

The chief reassured Picarelli that the department will check on the situation and issue tickets to anyone in violation of the traffic laws. He also reiterated that a new traffic speed survey device has been placed in her area.

Additionally, the police department announced that it is currently collecting canned and non-perishable food items to benefit the St. Thomas More food pantry. Individuals can bring these items to the Fairfield police trailer or to the area located by the police record room at town hall. Anyone wanting to provide hats and other warm clothing for the homeless is also invited to drop items off at the donation box.

Once again, the police department is helping with Operation Christmas Child as well. Those interested in participating are encouraged to pick up a shoebox at the police trailer and fill it with items to be sent to children around the world. All boxes must be returned no later than Friday, Nov. 8.

In other police news, the mayor urged all residents to lock their doors and remove all key fobs and valuables from their vehicles, as the township recently experienced several motor vehicle break-ins and a motor vehicle theft in the area of Donna Drive.

“Although two individuals were arrested shortly after police were alerted and three others were arrested the next day in the vehicle stolen from Donna Drive, the West Essex area continues to experience these types of incidents almost every night,” said Gasparini. “The only way this will stop is if people continually lock their car doors each night. If you do not do this, you are doing you and your neighbors a big disservice, as you are inviting criminals into our neighborhoods.”

During last week’s meeting, the mayor and council thanked the police department for making their presence known throughout the community, especially at sporting events. Many residents have spoken to the mayor and councilmen acknowledging Officer John Seragusa and Officer Steven D’Argenio, who often interact with children and attend sporting events to assure the safety of the children, parents and members of the booster clubs.