TRIBUTE: Today’s annual memorial service for Fair Lawn Police Officer Mary Ann Collura will feature the hanging of a portrait of the slain officer ( above ) in the borough courtroom “as a lasting reminder of her selfless and inspirational service,” police said.
The public is encouraged to attend.
Time has only strengthened memories of Collura, who was shot and killed on the grounds of the Van Riper Ellis Broadway Baptist Church on River Road after coming to the aid of a fellow officer trying to arrest a murderous ex-con a decade ago.
The 18-year veteran was Fair Lawn’s first female police officer and a shining light throughout the community.
Her badge number, 136, is a familiar sight around town and beyond.
Collura was respected, admired and loved. Her commendation file contained a letter citing her professionalism from a motorist she’d ticketed.
She has a street, a rifle range and a post office, among other locations, named after her.
A lifelong borough resident, Collura attended William Paterson College.
She was so dedicated to public service that she nearly joined the Army before volunteering with the borough’s police reserves.
Three years later, she was in uniform with the Fair Lawn Police Department.
“I wanted to be on the road, taking it as it comes,” Collura once said, explaining her reason for becoming an officer.
The words still haunt those who loved her, many who still visit her grave in George Washington Memorial Park.
A Clifton colleague was chasing a speeding ex-con on Route 46 when the pursuit headed into Fair Lawn.
Collura was on her way when the driver — a 23-year-old drug dealer from Passaic named Omar Marti — lost control of his car, which ended up on the lawn of the church.
Marti tried to run, but the Clifton officer tackled him and was trying to pepper-spray him when Collura arrived.
Marti, desperate not to go back to prison, pulled a gun and fired, hitting Collura twice.
He then shot the other officer, got behind the wheel of Collura’s cruiser and drove over her while speeding off.
She was only 43.
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