John E. O'Rourke
Class of 1981
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
BY MIKE KERWICK
First day on the job, his supervisor starts rushing him. Let's go. Hurry up. We have an armed robbery. The rookie thinks it's a joke. Let's go! The supervisor runs out the door.
They speed off in a state police vehicle, headed for a local gas station. The supervisor briefs the rookie on the way to the incident. You want to handle the shotgun or you want me to handle the shotgun? The rookie reaches down, runs his fingers along his bulletproof vest. "That," John O'Rourke recalled 25 years later, "was Day One."
O'Rourke, a 47-year-old Wayne resident, has witnessed plenty during his 25 years on the force. Murder and fatal accidents, he says, and everything in between. "After awhile you tend to get used to it," O'Rourke said. "You tend to get hardened." But even the most stone-faced lieutenants break down when one of their own takes a bullet. Sixty-five troopers have been killed in the line of duty since the New Jersey State Police were founded in 1921. O'Rourke's new book, "Jersey Troopers: Sacrifice at the Altar of Public Service," is a memorial to those victims. It is the first part of a two-volume collection that chronicles the troopers who were killed while serving the Garden State.
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