By: Richard L. Smith
On Wednesday, North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco and the Township Commissioners honored Officers Brendan Bowen and Jeffrey Vega with Officer of the Year awards for going above and beyond in the line of duty.
In addition to family and friends of the officers, also in attendance were Commissioners Frank Gargiulo, Hugo Cabrera, Allen Pascual, and Julio Marenco, as well as Police Chief Peter Fasilis, who gave a summary of the officers' endeavors.
According to North Bergen officials, Officer Bowen responded to a report of a damaged resident's door and was confronted by an assailant armed with a hammer upon arrival. After attempting to de-escalate the situation verbally, he deployed OC spray and awaited backup, upon which the perpetrator was taken into custody.
North Bergen officials said Officer Bowen utilized his training and experience to recognize this was a mental health issue. He maintained his composure and professionalism to ensure that the female received the medical attention she needed and that no further injury or loss of life was sustained.
In another heroic incident, North Bergen officials said Officer Vega was involved in several high-profile cases last, including apprehending a suspect who was involved in a shooting in Union City, the capture of a known burglar, as well as the arrest of an individual who was pointing a firearm at another person.
As a result of Officer Vega's actions, several dangerous offenders and illegal firearms have been removed from the streets and are no longer a threat to our public safety.
"The consistency, level of dedication, and unrelenting desire of these officers to combat the criminal element have deservedly earned them the distinction of Officer of the Year," said Mayor Sacco.
"I want to thank them for their service to our community and making the Township of North Bergen a better, safer place for all residents and visitors."
Officer Bowen has been with the North Bergen Police Department since December 2017 after spending approximately one and a half years with the Hudson County Sheriff's Office.
He was assigned as a Field Training Officer in October 2020 and has since trained several new officers in best practices and advanced law enforcement techniques.
Before transferring to the North Bergen Police Department in December 2017, Officer Vega began his career in law enforcement after graduating from the Morris County Police Academy in 2015 and working with the Hudson County Sheriff's Office for approximately two years.
This past summer, Officer Vega was assigned to the Street Crimes Unit to address spikes in crime and quality of life nuisances within our Township.
"I couldn't be prouder of our two officers of the year," said Chief Fasilis. "They exemplify the dedication, courage, and professionalism we strive for in our department.
Their commitment to serving and protecting our community is truly inspiring, and they are an outstanding example for all of us to follow."