The Peace Islands Institute (PII) held its fourth annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Diner Nov. 17, 2014 at the Hyatt Morristown, a gathering to celebrate the dedication of men and women that bravely serve the people of New Jersey. Award recipients were honored for their courageous efforts in law enforcement and criminal justice and cited for their role in protecting communities and resolving conflicts.
In his opening remarks to welcome attendees, Ercan Tozan, executive director of PII, said the people who serve in law enforcement “play a critical role in life; not just in public safety, but to fight against prejudice. At PII, we’re always trying to find new ways to work with communities.” Tozan explained how PII programs and conferences are designed to bring people together to find solutions to address ignorance, disunity and poverty. “We explore how tolerance and dialogue can lead us to higher levels of understanding. We should all strive to educate each other.”
William Schievella, director of the Police Studies Institute at College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, who served as the master of ceremonies for the event, praised those in law enforcement as agents of conflict resolution in the state of New Jersey. He also acknowledged the many challenges they face in the Garden State.
Schievella offered words of thanks to PII, saying the annual appreciation diner was an important way to recognize the contributions of those who serve in law enforcement. Prior to retiring in 2014, he served as the chief of investigations for the office of the Morris County Prosecutor. In this role Schievella was responsible for the planning, direction and coordination of all activities for the investigative staff.
Anthony L. Romano, Jr., the chairman of the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders, was the keynote speaker for the dinner. Romano said there were many reasons to honor the women and men who serve in law enforcement. A lifelong resident of the Hoboken and a grandson of Italian immigrants, Romano offered first-hand observations on the dedication of those in law enforcement. He spoke as a recently retired captain in the Hoboken Police Department, where he served for 32 years.
“Police should be part of the community,” he declared. “Police culture has changed over the years. We work with different groups within a community and look to make friendships that last forever.” Growing up in Hudson County and serving as a police officer, Romano said he has learned the importance of breaking down barriers among people and providing outreach to neighborhoods. “We’ve learned to see the similarities among different cultures,” he said. “Book knowledge is important for police officers and people in law enforcement, but you also need common sense, intuition and pragmatism.”
During the award presentations, the recipients were introduced by family members, friends and colleagues. They spoke about the accomplishments of the recipients and complimented them on their sense of duty to the people of New Jersey. Those receiving awards from PII included Joseph D. Coronato, Ocean County prosecutor; Mildred S. Scott, Middlesex County sheriff; Caroline Sadlowski, deputy chief, United States attorney in the district of New Jersey; Daniel A. Garrabrant, special agent, FBI Newark Division; Ehtasham Z. Chaudhry, detective, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness; and three distinguished New Jersey State Troopers: Jason Serrano, Mohamed Hussein and Luis Cardenas.
Coronato, on March 22, 2013, was sworn in as the chief law enforcement officer of Ocean County. Prior to that, he worked as a municipal prosecutor in 15 Ocean County towns and prosecuted on the local, county, state and federal level.
Scott became sheriff of Middlesex County on Jan. 1, 2011. She is the first female sheriff for the county and the first African-American sheriff in the state of New Jersey. During her time in office Scott has made major changes to the personnel structure in the sheriff’s department and introduced improvements in technology. In 2012 she received PII’s “Value of Women in Our Community” award.
Sadlowski serves as the deputy chief of the appeals division of the attorney’s office. She joined the office in 2002 and handles a variety of criminal cases, including child pornography, public corruption and drug trafficking. She also helped to launch the Federal Re-Entry Court for the district, a progressive, innovative program for assisting people released from prison, which provides guidance and support to help them to successfully reintegrate into their communities.
As noted in her impressive resume, Sadlowski graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was the managing editor of the law review. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
Garrabrant, in March 2014, was appointed to the New Jersey Commission on Human Trafficking by Gov. Chris Christie. He has provided expert training to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on recognizing and combating human trafficking. Garrabrant previously served as the senior leader of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team.
Chaudhry joined the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness in 2006 and currently works on counterterrorism investigations. Over the years he has played a major role in Homeland Security outreach efforts. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and rose to the rank of captain. During his years of service for Homeland Security he has educated law enforcement personnel in New Jersey on Arab and Sikh cultural and religious sensitivities. Born in Pakistan, Chaudhry came to the United States in 1981.
Last August, State Troopers Serrano, Hussein and Cardenas demonstrated valor when they rescued a truck driver, whose vehicle had caught fire and was dangling over the overpass of the New Jersey Turnpike. The badly burned driver plunged into the Overpeck Creek near the Vince Lombardi Service Area, located in Ridgefield. The three heroic troopers were able to rescue the driver from toxic, polluted waters of the creek.
PII focuses on four goals: promoting unity for peace building; education for ignorance; welfare for poverty and hunger; and progress for social and community development. PII espouses the values of friendship, dialogue and harmony, serving as an “island of peace” for diverse communities in the Garden State. The organization works to support a stronger, more prosperous New Jersey by advancing the causes of peace, cross-cultural tolerance and human dignity. With its main headquarters in New York, PII has divisions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The New Jersey branch of PII (website: www.peaceislands.org) is located at 777 Terrace Ave., Suite 109, Hasbrouck Heights. Contact PII by phone (201-426-0689) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information on its many programs and events.