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EDITORIAL: After rushing to a report of a vehicle stuck in a ditch, two New Milford police officers found a familiar face — that of 59-year-old Daniel Cardinali, who just weeks ago tangled with cops sent to his house. This time he began swinging a club before he was subdued.

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

It left Police Chief Frank Papapietro wondering: What would the average person demand in salary to accept such a job?

“When people complain about how much officers are paid, they should ask themselves if they could stand up to situations such as these and conduct themselves as professionally as did these officers,” Papapietro said. “They should ask themselves if they could even keep from running away.

“I would venture to say that most people could not, so they should be thankful for the officers who deal with the most violent in our society every day.”

The risk, he said, can be temporary — or even permanent — disability, maybe even death “even in suburbia,” the chief said.

In this case, Officers Nelson Perez and Brian Finale were dispatched to a report of a vehicle stuck in a ditch near Hardcastle Pond.

Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor

When they got there, they found Cardinali’s green Ford Focus stuck in the mud.

They asked him for his paperwork and Cardinali “became antagonistic toward the officers” and accused them of “purposely creating the situation” he was in, the chief said.

But it didn’t stop there, Papapietro said: “Cardinali became verbally abusive and threatened to kill the officers.”

That’s when they saw a folding knife near the console and a wooden club on top of a pile of clothes on the rear seat, he said.

When they ordered him out of the car, he refused and began swinging the club at them from inside a partially opened window, Papapietro said.

Then he reached under the front seat, the chief said.

Perez immediately smashed open the passenger window, unlocked the door and pulled Cardinali out, he said, adding that the driver struggled with the officers until they had him handcuffed.

Cardinali is now being held on $100,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with aggravated assault on police, making terrorist threats, weapons possession and possession of hypodermic needles.

So far this summer, Cardinali and another suspect in town have attacked a total of eight borough officers, Papapietro said.

“I’m not sure what it says [in the broader sense], since all the incidents were caused by two people,” Papapietro said.  “However it is testament to the inherent dangers of the job even in suburbia.”

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