THE ENFORCERS – TACTICAL FORCE TEAM

In early 1969 a new Tactical Force was developed in the Newark Police Department.  The city was in desperate need of new methods to combat the increase in violent crimes. Captain Chris Volz was to head up the Tactical Squad with 36 highly trained men who would be on call 24 hours working in plain clothes, uniforms, on foot and in patrol cars.  Over 200 men where screened for this dangerous and very intense job.  The preferential men were as follows:  Robert Scarpone, Thomas Rizzo, Richard Capobianco, James Pittaro, Baldesario (Benny) Abruzzo, William Richardson, David Gordon, Stanley Ford, William Leone, George Lytwin, Robert Rankin, John Baird, James Moretti, Peter Leone, Nicholas Guarino, Gary Egan, Patrick Dullaghan, Alberico Alfano, Joseph Ward, Donald Walsh, Phillip Walker, Eugene Nicholson, William Coley, Richard Schmalz, Daniel Blue, James Ventola,, Joseph Mosca, Charles Conte, Joseph Curran, Charles Kelly Jr., & William Clark.  They were the new enforcers,  young, strong, eager, sharp and dedicated men ready to aggressively attack the city’s criminal activity.

The three new sergeants assigned to the force were Chester Popek, Antonio Bonavita and Richard Masterson, better know as “Bat” Masterson.

Sergeant Popek chose Benny Abruzzo as his driver and partner knowing of Benny’s previous reputation as a police officer.  The first week they drove together in their unmarked car they were called by the dispatcher of a robbery in progress at a gas station. They were given the description of the suspects and told they were both armed with guns.  Sergeant Manghisi was also in an unmarked car and was able to track and follow the suspects until Popek and Benny were in close proximitry, both cars then blocked each end of the street trapping their suspects.  Knowing they were armed and dangerous, they drew their weapons and captures both robbers.  they were in possession of .25 caliber automatics and marijuana.

There wasn’t a night that went by without several arrest from these Enforcers but Benny and the Department knew there was more to be done.  Benny knew that the Narcotics Squad was in desperate need of new blood, new direction and giving top priority in cutting down crimes being fueled by drugs.  He complained constantly to Sergeant Popek not knowing that his brother-in-law Lt. Al Gomes ran the Narcotics Unit.  He asked Benny what would you do if you were assigned to the Narcotics Unit and he said, ” I’ll show you what can be done, just give it to me.”  And that was the first step into his transfer to Narcotics where he would stay for the next 17 years and make a huge difference in the city of Newark and the state of New Jersey.

You won’t want to miss the action coming up.  They didn’t call him Kojak for nothing.ImageImage

CLARK KENT OR SUPERMAN

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Another days work on the streets of Newark.  Benny’s still working as a plain clothes police officer but now he’s driving his own personal beat up car.  He knew the criminals knew the cops by their unmarked cars and he wanted to sneak up on them with his own rusty car with a smashed bumper.  He talked the department into giving him a police radio in the car so he could be on the scene as fast as his 54 Dodge would get him there.  He was finally off duty and on his way home when a call came over the radio of a robbery in progress at Hopp’s Drug Store only 2 blocks from his house.  He was at the scene in a flash with his hand on his revolver as he entered the drug store and announced he was a cop.  He observed 2 criminals with stockings over their head, one holding a .38 caliber revolver and one with a bloody knife. He then witnessed one victim  bleeding from his head which was slashed from a knife as he struggled with the outlaw, the other victim was on the floor bleeding from a gun shot to his leg.  Benny quickly apprehended both bandits single handed with his gun drawn on them and disarming both men. He then secured them both up against the wall until the calvary arrived.

He was awarded  an official commendation :  Class B, Medal of Merit, for his dedicated police work, alertness, quick response, courage, devotion and the prevention of more serious injuries.

He sounds like Superman to me…Wikipedia lists Superman’s abilities as SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH, SPEED, INTELLIGENCE, INVULNERABILITY, FLIGHT, FREEZING BREATH, MULTIPLE EXTRASENSORY AND VISION POWERS, HEALING FACTOR ..

Look up in the sky, it’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, NOOOO it’s Benny Abruzzo…faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall fences in a single bound.  Often disguised as a mild mannered guy fights the unending battle for truth, justice and the American Way…

THE FOOD ROMANCE

For all of you who know Benny, you know his love of food.  He will romance anyone with food and he will make it difficult for you to resist.  I think he would rather watch you eat than feed himself, it’s a toss up, almost voyeuristic. I do believe that’s how our love began and has continued. on for 20 years.

So I will tell you how our food romance began.  We were introduced to each other by Fred Marcus at his Christmas Party in 1993.  Fred was an attorney, Benny was his investigator and I was Fred and his wife Debra’s in-home massage therapist. They were not only incredible loyal clients but they became good friends and were always looking out for me.  After our short introduction Benny told me that he had massages on a regular basis to get out the aches and pains from working out at the gym so I thought is was appropriate to give him my business card. I did find him attractive and intriguing but he was with another woman so I pushed any thoughts of interest out of my head.   At the end of the evening he came over to me to ask me if I wanted to go for shrimp.  It was after midnight and he already had  not one but two women on his arms.  Of course I love shrimp but who goes out late after a party were there was plenty of food.  I politely declined and thought nothing more except that he may call me for a massage.  Well the next day he called me to see if I was available that evening for a massage.  I was always a little precautious with new men because some just did not respect my profession although I was really good at letting them know the deal….Massage is massage..go somewhere else if you are looking for something else.  His appointment was at 8 PM, he showed up with his own Frank Sinatra music.  I usually played some quite new age music during massages but what the heck. His foot tapped to the music throughout the entire massage.  After the massage, he wanted to know if there was anyplace we could go to eat.  I wasn’t use to going out late but I called around and found a local place that served until 10 PM.  Little did I know this was just the beginning of the romance between us.  Penne vodka at 10PM  was the most fun I allowed myself to have in a long time and he enjoyed my moaning in delight over the food.

He scheduled a massage appointment every Friday night and every Friday night we went out to eat.  Sometimes we went to Vincent’s in Little Italy and had Oysters in a scrumptious hot sauce or to China Town for choice dumplings or to Newark for fresh lobsters and shrimp.  We did this for 3 months, he never even kissed me, he just watched me eat.  My pants just kept getting tighter, he told me I looked great and just to buy bigger pants.

Somewhere along the way he did get me to join him at the gym for daily workouts so we had a good excuse to eat hardy.

I do remember the first real date, he actually asked me out on a night other than his massage night.  He took me to Angelo’s in Harrison, a family owned restaurant where they made you feel like family.   I had the most delicious meal I had ever eaten, Shrimp Angelo, it had shrimp the size of lobster tails with clams on a plate of linguine in white sauce.  Oh my God,  I thought I died and really went to heaven.  I did take some leftovers home for the next day and remember thinking after I heated them up, “I have to date this guy again.”

At times we would meet for lunch at local  joints, or Pal’s Cabin for burgers, or  pumpkin pie at midnight at the Lyndhurst diner.   Everyone knew Benny and would know just how he liked his food cooked and served.  Waiters and waitresses wanted to please him because he was a heavy tipper or heavy hitter as I like to call him. They were always at his service.

He would go to Calandra’s bakery at midnight and knock on the back gate with a dollar in his hand to get a fresh loaf of hot bread.  We would go to his place and make giant tuna sandwiches.

One night we went with our friends Marvis and Allen to our regular spot Touch of Sicily.  It was owned and operated by Maria Castelli and her daughter Mary Jo.  They treated us like we were family and it was as if we went to their house for dinner.  He had a great night with food, laughter, and making our own dance floor to Frank Sinatra music.  We stayed so long that we had to order another meal including a second dessert.  Oh the pounds keep adding up!

Some nights I couldn’t wait to get home before I exploded.  I wondered how he could continually eat like this.  He never  had gas or had to use the bathroom or so I thought.

You see he’s also very OCD (obsessive compulsive).  He drove an older model Chevy and was meticulous about the car.  He stopped often to check the tires, so I thought he was always just concerned about the old car’s tires.  Until one day we picked up 10 year old Erica, his friend’s daughter to take her to school,  she said to me in her snarky way, “so Kathy, has Benny been checking the tires?”  It took me a minute but then I got it.  He wasn’t checking the tires all those times, he was  getting out of the car to fart!  Ever since I said “I Do” he stopped checking the tires.

So I am 30 pounds heavier but very happy and in-love with my romantic FOOD DEVIL.