Texas Gov. Rick Perry stirred the buzz, and the Police Pipe & Drums of Bergen County led dignitaries to the stage with a rousing version of “Amazing Grace,” but the electricity at the annual Federal Law Enforcement Foundation luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria was generated by U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of the Joint Special Ops mission that took out Osama bin Laden.
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As a boy, McRaven dreamed of coming to New York City and one day meeting the man who kept the metropolis safe, he told the more than 1,500 law enforcement officers and guests who filled one of the grand hotel’s large ballrooms.
One day, his father brought McRaven to Gotham, where, he said, he “looked for the man who had the S on his chest.”
Then his father tapped him and pointed to a uniformed NYPD officer.
“Son, there’s the man who protects us,” he said.
McRaven dedicated himself to protecting others, just as so many gathered Friday in Manhattan have.
And although many looked at the commander of “Neptune Spear” with awe and admiration, the admiral said to them: “YOU are the Superman I was looking for so long ago. God bless you.”
McRaven words charged the room. Long after Perry had slipped out a side door and down an elevator, the commander was still shaking hands, taking individual time with each person who came his way.
Perry used the presentation of the foundation’s State Service award to him to try and revive his flagging presidential hopes.
He began with a veiled reference to Occupy Wall Street, saying, “We find ourselves in very troubling times, with civil unrest, misplaced anger, disrespect for the law. The vast majority of decent, law-abiding American citizens know well that we are free because you are brave, and we are truly thankful for your service.”
Then Perry abruptly switched gears, weighing in for the first time on “Operation Fast and Furious,” a disastrous trafficking sting against Mexican drug cartels in which the Justice Department lost control of nearly 2,000 AK-47s and other guns, nearly half of which ended up on the black market.
Perry called it an “ill-conceived operation” that put American agents patrolling the border in harm’s way. He blasted Attorney General Eric Holder for not displaying “the same courage and sense of responsibility” with which federal agents serve and faulted President Obama for not funding the necessary security.
“To say that the border is safer than ever is to turn a blind eye to the very real dangers of federal and state law enforcement,” Perry said. “Even worse [Obama] sweeps aside the fact there is bureaucratic bungling that has made the border substantially more dangerous.”
He also called for criminalizing congressional insider trading, and returning federal lawmaking to a part-time job – both of which drew the loudest applause. “Any congressman or senator who’s used their insider knowledge to trade, to make money in the stock market, oughta go to jail, period,” Perry said, drawing cheers.
The day’s honorees included investigators Edward Fallon, Michael Grogan and Erik Hoffman of the New Jersey State Police, and Dennis Doyle, Peter Maino and Joseph Spatz of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
The federal honorees included several based in Newark: William P. Uhler, a New Jersey deputy US Marshal, Jeremiah Reppert of the Secret Service, Homeland Security ICE Special Agents Brian Dalrymple, Ricky Patel and Deborah Hartman, U.S. Postal Inspector James J. Foley III, DEA Special Agent Raymond Morrison and FBI Special Agents Charles B. Stern and Francis J. Carden III.
NJ State Police Sgt. James Dobak, Rick Perry
Among the dignitaries onstage:
Michael A. Fedorko, a former NJSP trooper and Vietnam Marine vet who is the Port Authority’s Superintendent Director;
Two of Bergen’s top cops: County Police Chief Brian Higgins and Sheriff Michael Saudino;
Hudson County Prosecutor Ed DeFazio;
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles B McKenna, now the director of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness;
Several top federal law enforcement officials based in New Jersey: Andrew McLees, the ICE Special Agent in Charge, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; Jacob F. Christine, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service’s Newark Field Office; Matthew W. Horace, Special Agent in Charge of the Newark ATF office; and Philip R. Bartlett, the Inspector in Charge of the Newark Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.PA Officer Joseph Spatz (center) with Capt. Joseph Scarano, Deputy Chief Keith Walcott
Photo COURTESY of the Port Authority of NY and NJ
A group of District Attorneys were there, as well: Richard A. Brown of Queens, Robert T. Johnson of the Bronx and Charles Hynes of Kings County. So was city Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano and New York State Police Supt. Joseph A. D’Amico.
The Federal Law Enforcement Foundation was established in 1988 to provide financial support to the families of FBI agents killed in action. Before long, it expanded to include all federal and local law enforcement agencies.
It also helps those with serious illnesses or recovering from natural disasters with their bills.
Its directors, all non-paid volunteers, include Anthony Bergamo, a vice chairman with MB Real Estate who holds the same position with the foundation and was the day’s emcee; Tiki Barber, the former New York Giant; Ronald Perelman, the chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.; and THE Harold J. Rubenstein of Rubenstein Associates. All make significant financial contributions to the cause.
“It has been a difficult year for law enforcement,” Bergamo said, mindful of the spate of police shootings nationwide. “Sadly, we have received and responded to many requests for assistance to the surviving families of those killed in the line of duty.”
And the foundation always answers the call.
It also supports a host of charities, sponsoring scholarship programs, inner-city drug reduction, the Police Athletic League, Tuesday’s Children, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Make a Wish Foundation, Hale House, the Boy Scouts the NYPD Vest Fund, the Widows and Children’s Funds and several other worthy causes in 200 communities and 10 foreign countries.
Federal Law Enforcement Foundation
335 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
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