NORWOOD, NJ — A popular retired Norwood police officer has found a new life as a building supervisor in Hoboken -- a far cry from the days when citizens asked him for rides on his patrol motorcycle.
Thomas Russo was honored earlier this month by borough officials for his 13 years of service.
The 28-year law enforcement officer and Secaucus native attended the Bergen County Police Academy in Mahwah. He worked for a decade in Hudson County as a motorcycle patrol officer before the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police hired him in 1997. He joined the Norwood force in 2002.
Russo “helped a lot of newer officers by offering his experience with highway and fatal accident investigations. He was very influential on them,” Police Chief Jeffrey Krapels said.
“In 2005, that’s when the department really began to gel," Russo said. "I couldn’t have asked for a better police department.
“It was the town," he said. "People knew their assignments, and when the chief took over, there was a lot of community briefing. We were out there talking to residents, and he gave us a lot of direction.”
One of the more remarkable moments of Russo's career came in September 2014 when he helped save a 22-year-old woman after her car was swept away by a flash flood.
The Honda Civic was more than half-submerged in roughly eight feet of water behind Borough Hall when Russo came running with Englewood Cliffs Officer Marc Krapels, the Norwood chief's son.
“She opened the door, fell and went under,” said Russo, who’d already waded in up to his waist. “So I went in after her.”
“It definitely wasn’t the kind of dive you see in the movies,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time. “There wasn’t time to do anything but jump.
“I got her to the surface, then moved us a few feet so I could grab Mark’s arm. He pulled me and I pulled her and we got her out.”
The elder Krapels said it was no surprise that Russo then returned to headquarters, put on a dry uniform, and went back to work.
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