Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!

Home > News > 

TROOPER?S DEATH SPARKS MEMORIAL TRADITION


July 27, 2000
Print Comment RSS

TROOPER?S DEATH SPARKS MEMORIAL TRADITION

New Jersey State Police Detective Albert J. Mallen, Sr., was one of those straight-arrow cops who sought no personal glory, but would not hesitate to put his own life on the line for the safety of others. According to his wife, Peggy, he “was the type of person who lived every moment as if it might be his last.... He gave 100 percent in whatever he did.” On the night of August 28, 1985, with 14 years of distinguished police service under his belt, he was working on one of the biggest narcotics cases in state history. The focus of the investigation was a modest home in a New Jersey suburb, which was suspected of being one of the laboratories in a multimillion-dollar methamphetamine operation controlled by organized crime in the Philadelphia-Atlantic City area. A drug raid was planned and Detective Mallen was one of several officers who took part in the dangerous mission. During the raid, Detective Mallen was hit in the face with a shotgun blast at close range and he died at the scene. Peggy Mallen said afterwards that her husband understood the dangers of his work and knew that the end could come at any time. “He was scared. You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t,” she said. But, Peggy added, “He accepted it. I don’t know how he did what he did.” Albert J. Mallen, Sr., was 36 years old when he died. He was the first plainclothes New Jersey State Police officer ever to be killed in the line of duty. In addition to his wife, he was survived by three children, 14-year-old Albert, Jr., 15-year-old Jennifer, and nine-year-old Michael. The community near Atlantic City, where he lived, was devastated by the death of this police legend. An estimated 3,000 mourners showed up at the funeral. But, for some, attending the funeral was simply not enough. They wanted to do something more to ensure that Detective Mallen’s memory, and that of other fallen police heroes from the area, would be kept alive. So, a few months after Detective Mallen’s death, the first Cape/Atlantic Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service and Breakfast was held to commemorate the police officers in Cape May and Atlantic (NJ) Counties who had been killed in the line of duty. Two of the founders, retired FBI Special Agent Jack Reemmer and retired Atlantic City Police Captain Vince Premone, have carefully nurtured the event ever since. January marked the 15th anniversary of this memorial ceremony, which included a church service and breakfast attended by more than 600 people, making it one of the largest local law enforcement memorial events in the nation. The 200 Club of Cape May and Atlantic Counties, a group of concerned area business leaders headed by Pam Popielarski, President of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, took over sponsorship of the event last year and they are committed to seeing this tradition of remembrance continue. Since the event was launched, six police officers from Cape May and Atlantic Counties have made the ultimate sacrifice, bringing the total number of officers honored at the annual ceremony to 21. The most recent addition to the list is Frederick W. Baker, 35, a New Jersey corrections officer who was murdered by an inmate on July 30, 1997, in a cold-blooded act of retaliation. The incident occurred at the Bayside State Prison. Officer Baker, who had a reputation for always being fair with inmates, was sitting at his desk when a prisoner walked up and stabbed him in the back with a handmade knife. An investigation quickly revealed that the inmate launched the vicious attack because he was upset over a plan to move him to a different jail cell. On April 23, 1962, a similar act of criminal vengeance took the life of Clayton G. Graham, the first Atlantic City police officer ever to be killed in the performance of duty. Officer Graham, who was in uniform, was confronted by a gunman as he was getting into his personal vehicle at the end of his shift. The crazed assassin was upset over a traffic citation he had earlier received and unleashed his rage by firing on Officer Graham. Over the last 10 years, nearly 200 cop killers were out on parole or probation at the time that they murdered the police officer. One of their victims was Ippolito “Lee” Gonzalez, a 20-year police veteran of the Township of Franklin (NJ) Police Department. Sergeant Gonzalez was shot and killed after he pulled a car over for a routine traffic violation. When the two occupants of the car were later tried for murder in the case, their motivation for killing Sergeant Gonzalez was revealed. At the time of the traffic stop, they had just finished burglarizing a local business. One of the assailants, Robert “Mudman” Simon, was a paroled murderer who had served less than 15 years for killing his girlfriend after she refused to have sex with other members of his motorcycle gang. Simon did not want to go back to prison so he killed Sergeant Gonzalez. Each of the 21 police lives lost in Cape May and Atlantic Counties is a story of courage and selfless sacrifice. Harry Shore, a World War I veteran and Ocean City (NJ) police officer died in a motorcycle crash in 1927 on his way to help with a fire. In 1995, Wildwood Crest (NJ) Patrolman Gino Miglio engaged in a violent struggle with a suspect who was resisting arrest and suffered a fatal heart attack. In 1981, Atlantic City Police Officer Peter F. Egnor was only 20 years old when he was shot and killed in his patrol car while chasing down a fleeing felon. If ever there were any doubts about the willingness of our police officers to put the safety of others above their own, just consider the case of Michael P. “Mickey” Cullinane, Sr., another member of the honor roll from Cape May and Atlantic Counties. Patrolman Cullinane, a nine-year veteran of the Sea Isle City (NJ) Police Department, disregarded threats to his own life in 1992 when he went into a construction pit to rescue a worker who had been overcome by toxic fumes. Just a day before, Patrolman Cullinane had successfully participated in a similar rescue mission in the same 27-foot hole. This time, though, Mickey Cullinane would not make it out alive. Within just a matter of seconds, as he climbed down a ladder to reach the unconscious worker, Patrolman Cullinane was knocked out by the gases and fell to the bottom of the pit where he drowned in a pool of water. “Everybody said, ‘You can’t go down there,’” observed one of the construction workers who witnessed the accident. “But some people can’t see [someone in trouble] and walk away.” # # #This article originally was published in the March 2000 issue of AMERICAN POLICE BEAT, a national law enforcement publication. It appears here with the permission of the author and AMERICAN POLICE BEAT.




PoliceOne Offers

Breaking Police News

P1 on Facebook

Get the #1 Police eNewsletter

Police Newsletter Sign up for our FREE email roundup of the top news, tips, columns, videos and more, sent 3 times weekly
See Sample

Connect with PoliceOne

Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter Google

PoliceOne Exclusives

Featured Videos