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'Like A Superhero': Community Prepares Goodbyes For Beloved East Rutherford Deputy Police Chief

Phil's dad, Dennis Taormina, Sr., died just last year. The elder Taormina, who'd been a police officer for more than 25 years, got to pin his son's deputy police badge on him in 2019.
Phil's dad, Dennis Taormina, Sr., died just last year. The elder Taormina, who'd been a police officer for more than 25 years, got to pin his son's deputy police badge on him in 2019. Photo Credit: East Rutherford PBA Local #275

It all sadly happened so fast.

East Rutherford Deputy Police Chief Phil Taormina, a man who was as kind as he was courageous, died Wednesday, just months after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of liver cancer.

He was only 46.

A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at St. Pius X R.C. Church in Montville (24 Changebridge Rd,). Entombment will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover (225 Ridgedale Ave).

Visiting hours are from 4 to 8 Monday, Aug. 1 at Kimak Funeral Home, 425 Broad Street, Carlstadt.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Fund the First Taormina Strong (via Mayday Missions), to help support Phil's children’s education, and to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

East Rutherford PBA Local #275 called Phil a “great man, husband, father, deputy chief, and community superstar.”

"He was compassionate, kind, full of laughter," the department's Tammy Verdugo-Gil added. "Phil was like a super hero, soft-spoken, always had a ear to listen. Even when he was leaving to go home to his beautiful family he always took the time to chat for a few minutes." 

Taormina (#124) served proudly as a law enforcer for nearly 27 years -- but that wasn't all.

"PJ" was also a volunteer firefighter for 15 years and a former member – and onetime president – of the Carlstadt-East Rutherford School District Board of Education.

"We will always remember Deputy Chief Taormina for his 'family first' lifestyle, his dedication to his brothers and sisters in law enforcement, commitment to public safety, and his positive attitude," the fire department wrote in a social media post.

Taormina was a learned public servant, having attended courses and obtained certifications at:

  • the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA;
  • the FBI NA Leadership Development Program in Criminal Justice at the University of Virginia;
  • the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police’s West Point Command and Leadership Academy late last year.

The 1993 Becton Regional High School graduate, who lived with his family in Pine Brook, also took courses in criminal justice and police science at John Jay College in Manhattan.

Taormina became a police officer in December 1995 and was graduated from the Bergen County Police Academy the following June.

He was promoted to patrol sergeant in January 2002, then detective sergeant in April 2007 and quickly to detective lieutenant nine months after that.

He became an administrative lieutenant in October 2012 and administrative captain in January 2015 before being promoted to deputy chief three years ago.

Taormina's brother, Dennis Jr., was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

His father, Dennis Taormina, Sr., died just last year. The elder Taormina, who'd been a police officer for more than 25 years, got to pin his son's deputy police badge on him in 2019.

As recently as a month ago, Phil Taormina was still providing updates on major news stories out of the borough.

His department and the union have teamed up with Mayday Missions, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable organization dedicated to helping first responders and their families in times of crisis, adversity, or hardship.

The PBA has also been selling wristbands and t-shirts to raise immediate funds for Taormina's wife, Renee, and their children, Emily and Michael.

GO TO: FundtheFirst.com

Check back for arrangements.

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