By Anthony J. Machcinski
With the media sensationalizing the wrongs sometimes attributed to police officers, Kearny Det. Ramon Lopez is one of the officers fighting to buck that trend.
During a 14-year career in the Kearny Police Department, Lopez has earned the reputation of being one of the hardest working and most dedicated officers on the force. On April 13, Lopez’s dedication paid off when he was named the Cop of the Year in Kearny at the annual PBA ball.
“It’s a high honor being selected as ‘Cop of the Year’ because it’s an award that comes from your peers,” said Lopez, who was also presented two unit citation awards and an exceptional duty bar for three separate incidents in 2011.
For one of the citations, he was one of several officers credited with foiling a Quick Chek robbery; for the other, he was part of a team that tracked down and captured a man accused of exposing himself to high school track girls.
The exceptional duty bar was awarded for his offduty work in apprehending four would-be thieves during two separate searches of the flooded box factory on Hoyt St.
The Cop of the Year award is conferred by a valor committee of five officers from every part of the department.
“He’s been impressive from the first day he came in here,” said Kearny Police Chief John Dowie who sat on the panel that interviewed Lopez for a job in 1998.
Dowie recalled his notes from the interview in 1998 when he described Lopez this way: “He had excellent answers to situational judgment questions posed to him. He was very confident, excellent with his bilingual ability. Stuck me as a mature individual.”
“The five of us that sat on that panel that day had the same reaction,” Dowie remarked. “Everyone on that panel was impressed.”
Always willing to help out in a tough situation, Lopez has jumped into action on several occasions when needed during his police career and done the job well. Several incidents – the 2009 jewelry store murder/robbery, a 2010 bank robbery ring, and a kidnapping that was solved within hours of the initial report – stand out as examples.
“I was always told if you do something, to do it right,” Lopez explains. “Regardless of what it is, put 100% into it and you’ll never go wrong.”
Lopez’s ever-constant drive to help out anyone in need to the best of his ability assured Dowie that the addition of Lopez to the force was a good one.
“It makes you know that you were right when you selected him. He’s a great asset to the police department,” Dowie said.
While the award and congratulations went to Lopez, the detective believes that it should be shared with other members of the police department.
“It’s all about teamwork,” Lopez explained. “It’s not like you want to take the glory for any specific thing. I’m not like that. I believe in teamwork.”
Beyond the teamwork, the camaraderie with the other officers is one of the facets of the job that Lopez embraces.
“It’s like an extended family with the guys here,” Lopez said. “Some jobs you dread going every day. I look in my rearview mirror (of my career) and see 14 years go behind me like it was nothing. It’s a job I love going to and with guys I love working with.”
Lopez’s passion for the job as well as his connection with the community help Lopez in solving many crimes.
“You have to have that rapport with the community,” explained Lopez, who mentioned that through his connections in the community, he and his fellow officers have been able to jump on crimes quickly. “(The members of the community) are our eyes and ears. We rely on them as well. If anything happens, you want them to call. It’s a great thing that when you need them, they’re there.”
Lopez’s connection with the community has been built on incidents such as during the Halloween weekend snowstorm in 2011. Kearny Police received a call about a person who had passed away during the storm. With snow and debris covering much of the dead person’s property, Lopez was forced to navigate over fences and through debris just to get into the house. After conducting the investigation and knowing that family members would be coming to pay their respects, Lopez cleaned the snow and debris off the porch so that they could make their way into the home.
“You wouldn’t believe the phone calls and compliments that we got about (Det. Lopez),” Dowie remarked as he told the story. “It spoke volumes.”
As the volumes of compliments continue to come in about Lopez’s work, Lopez continued to deflect glory while reflecting on his career.
“I work with a great group of guys,” Lopez explained. “It’s been a lifelong dream for me (to be a police officer). I was able to achieve what I was shooting for.”