Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Blairstown Officers Quietly Offer Helping Hands

You might remember about 10 years ago when a tourist took a snapshot of a New York City police officer and a homeless man in Times Square on a dreadfully cold night. The officer was kneeling beside the barefoot man, helping him put on a new pair of boots he had just bought for him with his own money. 

The photo of that interaction, which the officer had fully expected and intended to be an unknown and anonymous gesture, quickly circled the world as an example of warmth and kindness on the sidewalks of the mean streets of New York. 

But that concern for less fortunate people is not confined to the Big City. Blairstown Police Chief Scott Johnsen told us about an example here in a small town. 

On February 14, Blairstown Officer Jetlir Rizvani and Sgt. Jonathan Bee were dispatched to Dale’s Market on Route 94 for a man needing assistance, Johnsen said. 

They met a man at the store and after speaking to him for a moment, they quickly determined he was homeless, had not eaten in several days and had no money. 

Johnsen said Rizvani and Bee—with their own money—bought the gentleman a meal and hot coffee. They then brought him to a facility where he was connected to outreach services. 

“The officer’s actions with the homeless person were selfless and not for recognition,” Johnsen said. “I can say that officers have done this for many people without looking for praise, including buying gas for a mom that ran out on the side of the road, with an infant and no money this past summer. The officers take pride in helping our community and it shows on a daily basis.”

In both cases, the officers involved were not looking for recognition, Johnsen emphasized. The chief, on the other hand, felt the community should know about them. 

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.