New Jersey first responders honored at annual Valor Awards

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Toni Yates has the story

Heroes in New Jersey were honored Thursday for their inspiring acts of courage at the annual Valor Awards.

This year, seven local law enforcement officers and 34 firefighters were recognized.

Police officers and firefighters from Essex County towns were recognized by businesses and community leaders who chose the group for showing exemplary life-protecting efforts last year.

"These honorees are extraordinary men and women called upon to do an extraordinary job at times under extreme circumstances," said Reverend Monsignor Christopher Hynes, of the Archdioceses of Newark. "We called them to foster order where there is chaos on our streets. We pray, help them to be courageous and not reckless."

All were courageous in 2016, and their efforts paid off.

Essex County detectives arrested armed suspects in February without firing a shot, and Essex County and Newark officers who answered a call of shots fired were nearly run down by fleeing suspects who were arrested.

A Millburn police officer who jumped into a river to save a drowning child was honored, as well as a Millburn fireman who performed a high-angel rescue saving a child from the roof of a burning home. Also, Newark firefighters were honored for rescuing several people trapped on balconies as flames consumed their apartments.

A Newark officer whose search and rescue saved a life during a kitchen fire and Montclair firefighters who rescued a man trapped underground after a collapse were recognized, and state police troopers honored a member who died last year as a result of illness from his work on 9/11.

The awards luncheon, a thank you from the Two Hundred Club, was created more than 50 years ago to provide for the families of those killed in the line of duty. It is also a public thank you to those still giving their all.

"They come, bring their families to let them know there is great support out here," Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. "People appreciate what we do."
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