Raymond A. Gulbin
Lieutenant (retired), Clark (NJ) Police Department
I grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and at a young age I listened to stories from my uncle who served on the Elizabeth Police Department. It was from those stories that I listened intently and gave me the inspiration to become a police officer.
I got my chance in January 1970, when I was hired by the Clark Township as a probationary police officer. Furthermore, I served in the New Jersey Army reserves 78th Lightning Division for 6 years.
With only one month on the job, I was riding with a more experienced officer when we received a call of a bank robbery in progress. The bank teller had activated the alarm when three suspects demanded money and one of the suspects had a handgun. My partner and I spotted the suspects in their getaway vehicle and chased the suspects on the Garden State Parkway and through nearby towns. The brief chase ended when the suspect vehicle jumped the curb and crashed as it went into a dead-end street. Officers from the nearby townships, State Police and F.B.I. arrived to assist. As the suspects fled from the vehicle in different directions, one suspect was caught hiding under a pile of logs; another suspect was caught hiding in a detached shed. The third suspect was spotted and ordered twice to stop. As the suspect turned around, he fired his handgun at us. My partner and I fired our service revolvers and the suspect fell to the ground wounded. A 32-caliber handgun was later recovered from the scene. It was later determined that it was my bullet from my service weapon that hit the suspect in the shoulder.
One of the sadist days in my career was when I was working the overnight shift on Independence Day, July 4, 1971. Fellow Clark Police Officer William Waterson was shot and killed in the line of duty. Officer Waterson and his partner had interrupted a robbery in progress in the back of a Howard Johnson motel. Officer Waterson was fatally wounded with exchange of gun fire with the suspect. I was with Officer Waterson as he laid unconscious with a bullet wound to his chest. He was put in the ambulance unit and transported to the hospital where he died 30 minutes later.
Shortly thereafter I was enrolled in the state police academy for formal police training.
On October 21, 1976, my partner and I were called to the scene of a car explosion where the 17-year-old driver was serious injured and suffered immense burns on his body. After providing on scene medical attention, we decided that the injuries were too severe to wait for the ambulance unit. The teenager was put in the back of the patrol car and rushed to the hospital. In the emergency room one of the doctors that was treating the teenager indicated that the 17-year-old was alive today because of the officer’s actions. It was later learned that the propane tank he was transporting in his vehicle was leaking and the explosion occurred when he started the vehicle.
It was sometime later that the mother of the 17-year-old sent a thank you letter of gratitude and appreciation to me and my fellow officers that were involved in saving her son’s life that day. She said the trials we must face every day are made easier knowing that there are police officers out there ready to help. Her son would be blinded for life.
I retired from the Clark Police Department as a Lieutenant in 1996. After 26 years of service I enjoyed my experiences serving the residents of Clark. I enjoyed telling my sons the so-called war stories of the job as my uncle told me when I was young. Now two of my three sons are law enforcement officers. Now that I am retired and reflect back on some of the incidents that I have been involved in, for which I received awards and commendations for, I am proudest to have received the Outstanding Community Service Award Patrolman of the Year in 1979.