EDITORIAL : When your husband or boyfriend has been under fire — not just from desperate criminals but from a hostile governor and ignorant media — it’s comforting to bond with others in the same situation as you.
And that’s exactly what a group of wives and girlfriends of law enforcement officers in Bergen County are doing.
Using the increasingly popular “Meetup” network, the women have created “ The REAL Police Wives (or Girlfriends) of Bergen County .” Clever name. Wonderful idea.
The Bergen women gather, usually at a restaurant, to trade private tales, support one another and laugh their way through a few precious moments of shared security. Their next session is set for May 8.
Their significant others already had unions, lodges and various fraternities. This is a new phenomenon — an immensely helpful one.
Denielle Battaglino, whose husband is a local police officer, launched the group in late February.
“I wanted to create a forum where local women can come together to meet each other and help others with similar lifestyles,” said Denielle, a microbiologist. “I have always wanted to become involved in my community, and this is the best way I know how.”Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor
The online site that is the group’s hearth was easy to assemble: Denielle simply used one of the world’s largest social networks.
Meetup boasts 79,000 local groups, with 7.2 million members in 45,000 cities worldwide. The mission: “to revitalize local communities and help people around the world self-organize…
“ Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.” ( More on that later…. )
The common denominators for “ The REAL Police Wives (or Girlfriends) of Bergen County ” are a sense of “normalcy” that is anything but and a way of life that, by necessity, must include missing — or canceling — children’s events, trying to get blood out of a uniform, and feeling that tightening in your stomach late at night because things are JUST TOO QUIET out there.
As a local officer recently told me, police in Camden, Paterson, Newark, and other cities know what they’re walking into every shift.
“When you’re in towns like ours, you NEVER know when it’s going to be your time,” he said. “It could be today, tomorrow, next week, next month — or never. It‘s the minute that you think you can relax that something happens.”
He was talking specifically about the night of March 12, one that gave instant, if unwelcome, meaning to “ The REAL Police Wives (or Girlfriends) of Bergen County .”
It began quietly for the departments in Pascack Valley. Then a call came in to Washington Township headquarters: A man on the other end reported a domestic incident at his parents’ home.
What Hillsdale and Washington Township police rushing to the call didn’t know at the time was that the caller had a cache of weapons in the house — and a rifle in his hands.
Two officers heading up the walk heard Robert Ellis’s mother scream for them to get out of the way. Then came a rifle blast from inside, shattering the windows of the radio car.
The officers took cover, awaiting backup as Ellis marched outside. He began slinking around, commando-style. The officers stayed low, at times crawling on their stomachs.
The tense standoff continued for nearly a half hour, with several officers converging on the scene. Then one of them got close enough to stand up.
Ellis, barely 20 feet away, said something to the officer, pointed his rifle and fired. The cop shot, too — and fortunately wasn’t hit.
Ellis, who openly told his son on a Facebook page to “aim for the head” because police wear body armor, then told someone else he planned to “go out in a blaze of glory,” fell into the bushes in front of his parents’ house. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
His family was unhurt, as were their neighbors. All of those sworn to face such lethal danger for theirs and our sakes came home that night — shaken, for sure, but alive.
“We were very scared because our friend who was there did not answer his phone,“ Denielle said. “My husband was convinced that he was dead.
“However, we finally got ahold of him and he was OK.”
The incident has drawn wives and girlfriends of police from the neighboring towns closer — a union that not only helps them but gives the men in their lives some measure of comfort, knowing that the women they love have each other to lean on.
More spouses should join, and more of these groups should emerge throughout New Jersey, as the violence by criminals against police continues and the governor inexplicably treats law enforcement officers as second-class citizens.
In this environment, something tells me more women will join and more of these groups will emerge.
Then, who knows? Maybe the “meetup” groups begin linking up. Maybe they form an action committee.
Then maybe Trenton, and the media, starts seeing things a little differently.
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