A Top Cop

Heriberto Carattini
Sergeant, Jersey City Police Department

I began my career as a police officer in the Jersey City Police Department in 1981. For five years I served the community by affecting the arrests of thousands of drug dealers and robbery offenders. In 1986, I was promoted to Narcotics Investigator, then eventually became the Detective Commander for the North District. During this time, I commanded a squad of six investigators and worked closely with the surrounding police agencies, DEA, ATF, and FBI. From 1992 to 2009, I commanded the burglary and robbery unit. In this position I selected, trained, and supervised police personnel within assigned locations in which hundreds of arrest warrants were executed. I’ve held numerous different positions in the department, and truly feel like I’ve made a difference in the community.

I believe the highlight of my career came in 1999, when I was selected to receive the Top Cop award for saving officers’ lives. It was awarded to me by The National Association of Police Organizations. A gunman had entered the precinct and shot two police officers, attempting to kill them. I heard the shots from the outside, entered the precinct, and shot the suspect, who was eventually prosecuted and sent to prison. Even though I was being honored for this, I always felt like I was just doing my job. Any other cop in the same situation would have done the same thing. In addition to receiving this award, I had the honor of meeting President Bill Clinton in a White House ceremony, in the company of several other brave law enforcement officers from throughout the country. It was an experience I will never forget.

In that same year, I was inducted into the American Police Hall of Fame. I also received the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award. A plaque with my picture currently hangs on the wall of the museum along with other brave officers. I was one of the highest decorated officers in the history of the Jersey City Police Department. My awards also include the Medal of Honor, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an officer.

I give credit to my school teachers at Frank R. Conwell and James J. Ferris schools for teaching me the important qualities of honor and integrity, and for inspiring me to choose the career path I chose. They taught me how to have respect, and how you’ve got to do something to find a way to better yourself. It made a huge difference in my life. The lessons I learned while growing up in a very poor neighborhood in Jersey City helped me to become a better police officer, and I am truly grateful for that.

From saving lives as a hostage negotiator to taking down drug dealers, burglars, and numerous other dangerous criminals, I feel like I’ve seen everything in my 29 years on the force.There’s no other job for me, because I was meant for this.

I love police work. I love my two sons and the grandchildren they’ve given us. I love my wife of 45 years. I sincerely thank them for standing by my side all of these years. It certainly wasn’t easy. I could not have done my job nearly as well without their continuous love and support.

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