By Karen Zautyk
Detective Michael Gonzalez has been named the Kearny Police Department’s “Policeman of the Year” for 2013, representing the second time the officer has been chosen for the KPD’s top honor.
The commendation will be presented Friday at the annual PBA Ball and Valor Awards Dinner.
Gonzalez, a member of the force since 2001, was selected for the same award in 2009 and is the third KPD serving officer to be a repeat recipient. The others are Lt. Anthony Gouveia, 1989 and 2003, and Officer Robert Turkowsky, 2001 and 2008.
The “Policeman of the Year”is chosen by the department’s Valor Committee, headed by Sgt. Rick Poplaski and composed of superior officers and representatives from the Patrol Division, COP Unit and Detective Bureau. And there’s no influence from the top: “I stay out of it,” Chief John Dowie noted.
Dowie explained that the commendation reflects the honoree’s overall performance during the year in question. “It’s a review of job after job. It’s not just any one job,” he said.] Even so, there are certain cases that stand out. The chief cited the actions of Gonzalez, along with Officer Steve Hroncich, “in the rooftop rescue of a suicidal individual, at great peril to himself.”
“The family was very appreciative,” Dowie said. Dowie also noted that, in 2013, Gonzalez solved a series of armed robberies “here and in surrounding jurisdictions” and played a critical role in the investigation and subsequent arrest of a suspect in the Dec. 24 robbery of a Chase Bank in Kearny.
Gonzalez is also a member of the KPD’s Honor Guard, is a firearms instructor and a member of the tactical team. In addition, he serves as a physical training instructor at the Passaic County Police Academy in Wayne, from which he graduated in 2001. Gonzalez, who grew up in Newark and Kearny, joined the KPD in August 2001 after serving a year as a Hudson County corrections officer and a year as an officer with the N.J. Department of Corrections. He is also a graduate of the N.J. Department of Corrections Academy in Sea Girt. At both academies, he received the physical fitness award in his graduating class.
He served with the KPD patrol units until 2009, when he was assigned to the Detective Bureau.