By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Eugene J. Dello, an Asbury Park police detective and a state legislative delegate for PBA Local No. 6, attended four of the five funerals for the police officers killed in last week’s massacre in Dallas, Texas.
The five Dallas police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa were killed in Dallas on July 7 by a sniper using high powered weapons.
Dello flew with four fellow New Jersey officers to Dallas on July 12 as representatives from The New Jersey State PBA.
“We arrived Tuesday and they (PBA) sent a trailer down with supplies; water, food..” Dello said.
Two police officers were assigned by the state PBA, which paid for the entire trip, to drive the trailer to Dallas. State PBA President Patrick Colligan made the decision to send the five officers.
Dello, still emotional from the tragedy and intensity of the experience, said the memory of the trip would be with him for a life time.
“I can only sum this trip up as life moving. Just to see these guys lay down their lives to protect their community, and the lives that these officers left behind that are now shattered,” he said.
Dello said seeing the families of the dead officers touched him deeply.
“The most moving thing I saw was an eight year old boy putting a flower in his father’s casket as it was going down,” he said, his voice still shaking with emotion.
Dello was also impressed with the reaction from the Dallas community.
Because of the large crowds the funerals were held in sports stadiums.
“The stadiums were full in over 100 degree heat,” he said.
Dello, the only Asbury Park officer on the trip, also said experiencing the event with fellow New Jersey officers was special.
“The bond that was created, that will be life long,” he said. “Because of the things we witnessed, seeing officers from throughout the world, not just from this country.”
Dello said as they were preparing to leave and head home to New Jersey they heard the news of three more officers killed in Baton Rouge.
“The trailer was ordered to go to Louisiana to help that contingent,” he said. “The PBA president said ‘Don’t come home, go over there, (Louisiana).’ You never know what tomorrow is going to bring in this field.”
New Jersey PBA President Patrick Colligan said there was never a question that the organization would be represented.
“It quite simply wasn’t a question of if or how, but when and how many,” he said. “It’s a tragedy when any officer is killed, but so many and in that way. Then I woke up Sunday morning to the same nightmare.”
Dello also wants to make the point that not all cops who shoot or are shot by minorities are racists.
He said one of the officers laid to rest in Dallas, a white man, was engaged to a black woman who gave the eulogy at his funeral.
Describing the scene as the procession traveled along five miles of Dallas roadway, Dello said there were people saluting the whole procession from both sides of the roadway.
“The whole state seemed to come out. I could see them in rows of three with American flags and saluting,” he said. “It was bone chilling.”
Dello said he stayed in a hotel only a block from where President John F. Kennedy was shot.
He also said the scene where the officers were killed was still an active crime scene because ballistic experts were investigating where the bullets hit to determine if there were any other shooters.
“We could see bullets in the building,” he said.
Dello also said one of the officers tried to hide around a concrete pole, but the shooter followed him, putting four bullets in his brain at close range with a high powered gun.
“They said they could see sparks coming off the pavement,” Dello aid.
Dello said the cars driven by the slain officers were being kept as monuments where people placed flowers and officers left their various patches from around the world.
“Their cars were covered in flowers. Officers were still crying,” he said.
Dello believes that the remarks of Dallas Police Chief David Brown put some perspective on the situation.
“Stop protesting and apply for a job,” Brown announced at one of his many press conferences.
He also said he wished more of the good things police do would make the news.
“There are so many good things that people don’t see, they only see the bad things,” he said.
“Not enough good news that police do, gets into the paper,” he said.
He also praised the Asbury Park Police Department.
“It’s a melting pot; it’s very diverse. We have everybody covered,” he said.