LAKEWOOD - While the pomp and circumstance of Ocean County's annual Police Memorial Law Enforcement Day Observance has been muted by the coronavirus pandemic this year, those that have made the ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten.
"Every year we gather at this time at the Ocean County Police Academy in Ocean County Park to pay tribute to the fallen heroes that have proudly served this County," said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. "We take time to remember their service and recognize their loved ones. And while we cannot gather at the academy memorial right now, Ocean County will recognize the men and women whose names grace the monument."
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders will proclaim the month of May as Police Memorial Month in Ocean County and May 15 Police Memorial Day.
In the absence of a public ceremony, a wreath and flowers will be placed at the Police Memorial Monument at 10 a.m. Friday, May 15 by Harvey Cedars Police Chief Robert Burnaford, President of the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association and Retired Bay Head Police Chief William Dikun, who has served as the master of ceremonies of the annual ceremony.
"On Friday, I want to encourage all of our residents to take time to remember the lives of Ocean County's fallen officers – the men and women that have made the ultimate sacrifice," Kelly said. "Their service will never be forgotten. While we cannot be at the police memorial monument, we certainly can keep them in our thoughts and our prayers."
Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy extended his gratitude to all law enforcement and peace officers during the ongoing national health crises.
"Every year we recognize the dedication and the sacrifice of all men and women of law enforcement who are no longer with us," Mastronardy said. "We recall the important work of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and we extend our appreciation to the families and loved ones they left behind. That recognition doesn't end because a formal ceremony cannot be held.
"I ask that you keep all of our law enforcement and emergency responders in your thoughts as they protect the public from a virus we cannot see but know how much damage it can do," he said.
"Law enforcement is far from an easy profession," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. "In Ocean County we have the greatest respect for all of our peace officers who work so diligently to keep us from harms' way."
The Police Memorial monument at the Police Academy lists the names of 18 officers from Ocean County that have died.
Those names that appear on the Police Memorial at Ocean County Park are: New Jersey State Trooper First Class Joseph A. Smith, Aug. 4, 1927; New Jersey State Trooper Leonard P. McCandless, June 28, 1931; New Jersey State Trooper John J. Ressler, May 1, 1932; Marshal Arnold Johnson, Point Pleasant Police Department, July 22, 1928; Police Officer Hartley Richter, Lakewood Police Department, April 8, 1946; New Jersey State Trooper Raymond P. Fiola, February 19, 1962; Chief Angelo J. Leonetti, Long Beach Township Police Department, March 6, 1962; Police Officer Robert T. Tobias, Manchester Township Police Department, May 17, 1975; Police Officer Richard J. Harper, Brick Township Police Department, May 4, 1978; Police Officer Larry A. Dunfee Jr., Stafford Township Police Department, April 27, 1981; Police Officer John J. Lesemann, Brick Township Police Department, Aug. 30, 1999; Police Officer Robert Ventura, Jackson Township Police Department, March 18, 2001; Police Officer William Preslar , Lakewood Township Police Department, May 14, 2007; Police Officer Jason C. Marles, Ocean Gate Police Department, November. 25, 2010; Police Officer Christopher A. Matlosz, Lakewood Police Department, Jan. 14, 2011; Detective Tina E. Rambo, Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, Aug. 1, 2011; Detective 1 John Scott Stevens, Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, Jan. 21, 2015 and Cpl. Scott R. Thompson, Manchester Township Police Department, April 10, 2015.