After serving the town of Fair Lawn, NJ, for 18 years as their first female police officer, Police Officer Mary Ann Collura, was killed in the line of duty on April 17th, 2003. Officer Collura was assisting Clifton Police Department in a vehicle pursuit which came to an end in her jurisdiction when she was shot four times by one of the suspects involved. Not only was Officer Collura Fair Lawn’s first female officer, she was also their first line of duty death. Focused on the safety of children, just a few years prior to her murder, Officer Collura began a program to distribute glow sticks on Halloween so that Bergen County’s (NJ) youth could safely trick or treat in the dark. There is a memorial in her honor located outside of the Fair Lawn Borough Hall, where there is an annual gathering on the anniversary of her death. As recent as 2019, it was listing the attendees in the hundreds.
So, it stands to reason that, on the 18th anniversary of Officer Collura’s murder, Mayor Peluso and his wife, Linda, would certainly take the opportunity to remember her and her sacrifice. Instead, this is what Linda Lamadrid-Peluso chose to write on her Facebook page:
As if the insensitivity of choosing the anniversary of Officer Collura’s murder to slander law enforcement wasn’t bad enough, as it turns out, Linda’s own sister is an Asbury Police Officer. By perpetuating the false narrative that the American police officer is somehow systemically biased, Linda Lamadrid-Peluso fanned the flames that could directly endanger her own kin. Now, by doing a little research, we are well aware that Linda praises her sister for how ‘woke’ she is as Police Officer; so woke, in fact, that she participated in a local BLM rally.
That said, we should point out to Linda that most murders of police officers aren’t preceded by an interview. So her sister’s ‘wokeness’ won’t be factored in, God forbid, if she is ever met with a mutt set on killing a police officer. Linda’s statements were reckless, baseless, biased and, given the timing, tone-deaf.
As we always do, Brothers Before Others attempted to reach out to the parties involved: the Mayor, his office, his wife and his wife’s sister. As of the writing of this article, none have responded and, in fact, Mayor Peluso has blocked communication with our President/Founder, retired NYPD Police Officer Michael Burke.
One of Brothers Before Others’ members and New Jersey State PBA Local 197 President John Welsh had this to say on the matter:
“Being a PBA President for 5 years and a Fair Lawn resident for over 35 years, I am very disturbed by the insensitivity and clear bias being displayed by our Mayor’s wife. Her social media posts were not only an attack on our local law enforcement but were also a broad-stroke attack on all of law enforcement, which includes her own sister. Choosing Officer Collura’s line of duty death anniversary to further the divide between law enforcement and the community…a divide created BY those in power…was an intentional show of disrespect for the sacrifice made by Mary Ann, the sacrifices made before her and the continued sacrifices being made by the American police officer. I implore Mrs Peluso to apologize to the Collura family and her local police department. I further encourage her to educate herself on the statistical data involving police use of force in order to ensure that her future statements regarding law enforcement will be grounded in fact and not emotion.”
BBO President Michael Burke pulled no punches with his comments on the posts and the lack of communication regarding same coming from the involved parties: “The Mayor, his wife and the entire Town Council are all cowards and I eagerly welcome a debate to that fact in an open forum.”
While this incident would have grabbed our attention regardless, there is some history here; both with the Asbury area and Fair Lawn.
Back in August of 2019, both the Asbury Park Police Department and Brothers Before Others lost one of our most beloved members, Detective April Bird. Detective Bird was a member of Brothers Before Others since our founding in 2014 and was involved our mission from day 1. Following her passing, BBO traveled to the Asbury Park Police Department where we presented the PD and April’s family with memorial hats, tee shirts and coins that we had made in her honor. She is as missed today as she was the day she left us.
Our connection with Fair Lawn is not quite as positive. Not ironically, this is not the first time Fair Lawn’s civilian leadership has either disrespected law enforcement or allowed their police officers to be disrespected by others.
Choosing an individual police officer’s line of duty death anniversary date to slander law enforcement as a whole…I mean…you can’t go lower than that, right? To that, the Peluso’s and the Fair Lawn Town Council invites you to hold their beers.
On the 19th anniversary of 9/11…the largest terrorist attack on United States soil and the largest single loss of law enforcement and firefighters ever in our country’s history…at a memorial honoring the civil servant lives lost that day, Mayor Peluso, through the Borough Manager, ORDERED the Fair Lawn Police Chief to instruct the Fair Lawn Police Officers participating in the memorial to remove their ‘thin blue line’ face coverings citing it’s political affiliation. Bear in mind: ANY and ALL affiliation between the ‘thin blue line’ and racism/bias in simply factually baseless and grounded solely in emotion. There is literally ZERO evidence linking the ‘thin blue line’ to anything other than representing law enforcement and the sacrifices made by those who have worn a shield. Since the early 1950’s when it was made popular by then Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Parker, the ‘thin blue line’ has come to symbolize the line between order and chaos – the American police officer. Yet, in what could only be described as irony, Mayor Peluso took what was NOT political and made it political by using, of all days, 9/11 to politically grandstand.
But wait. There’s more.
In October of 2018, in what could only be viewed as a positive as it applies to the safety our children in school, the Fair Lawn Board of Education decided to hire five retired police officers to serve their district as School Resource Officers aka SRO’s. Unsolicited and unprovoked, Robert Wood Johnson/Barnabas Health Executive Vice President Michellene Davis, using her personal Facebook account on which she advertised both her employer and position, commented under a news post about the hiring: “Who’s going to train them not to shoot black children first???”.
We’re not going to relive the entire disgusting story involving Ms Davis, RWJ/BH, their leadership (or lack thereof) and their completely disingenuous response to the flagrantly biased and baseless statements that were made. If you like, we’ve attached the link to one of our previous stories above. Simply click on her name. Suffice to say, from the moment we were made aware of the comments, Brothers Before Others was all over it, even holding educational rallies outside of Ms Davis’ office where all we sought was dialogue…dialogue that never came. Do you know what else never came? Condemnation for the besmirching of the good name of the Fair Lawn police officers, the genuine efforts of the Fair Lawn BOE and the clear common sense of the Fair Lawn residents. Based on Linda’s own statements on Saturday, it’s becoming clearer now why the Mayor’s office was mum on this topic.
It’s important to note that if you speak to the residents of Fair Lawn or the local police officers, you’d be hard pressed to find any concern of racial bias or tension effecting their community. Statistically, it’s simply not there. In fact, it’s so rare that even when it’s NOT there, the Mayor and his bride seem to be wishing it was. Ask around about the twine that was found that he alone seemed to be the only one insisting on it being a noose.
There is money in hate. There is power in division. We the people are pawns in a game that we aren’t even invited to play in. We will get what we accept and what we normalize. The clear bias and flagrant disrespect for law enforcement coming from the elected officials of Fair Lawn should not be tolerated. We all deserve better than to be pitted against each other by the only people who stand to benefit by that division.
Fair Lawn is an amazing community with amazing residents and an equally amazing police department. ALL deserve to be recognized accordingly. What’s happening in that town is happening all over America…and it’s disgusting. An America without a supported and appreciated law enforcement ceases to be America. No rational adult could think otherwise.
Unlike the tone-deaf and heliocentric leadership of Fair Lawn, the members of Brothers Before Others and all who wear a shield will never forget the sacrifice made by Mary Ann Collura and, from the bottom of our hearts, we apologize to the Collura family and the Fair Lawn Police Department for the disrespect they were shown by the ones who should be standing up for them the loudest.
In the equivalent of a robo-response…evident by the fact many people received the same communication…Mayor Peluso wanted to be clear that his wife’s social media posts were “clearly” made on the EVE of Mary Ann Collura’s line of duty death anniversary and not on the actual day itself. The Mayor then went on to share a heartwarming personal interaction he had with Officer Collura when he was a young child; a story that would have been better served had it been shared publicly and as a tribute to Officer Collura and all of law enforcement on the 18th anniversary of her murder.
We find it highly contradictory that Mayor Peluso claims to have such warm feelings towards law enforcement, yet did nothing to condemn his wife’s bias against the American police officer, her public declaration of same, the danger she put her own sister in by perpetuating a false narrative and the fact that his sister-in-law proudly marched in full uniform side by side with a Black Lives Matters rally…the same Black Lives Matters that is, by any reasonable standard, a hate group at this point.
To that end, the Mayor referencing how many ‘friends and family’ he has that serve as police officers as a way of proving how much he loves law enforcement is akin to a racist citing how many friends he has of a different race to prove he’s not racist. It’s the lowest common denominator when it comes to mounting a defense and it’s insulting, at best.
Furthermore, the Mayor did nothing to address his political grandstanding and pandering by insinuating that the ‘thin blue line’ represented anything other than law enforcement and the sacrifices made by same, on the anniversary of 9/11 no less.
Conclusion: The Mayor’s carefully choreographed robo-response disputes not a single fact in this article other than timing.
We have taken that under advisement and thank him for the clarity.
~ Brothers Before Others