Union City battles it out with Hudson County’s Finest to honor fallen officers


They were there in full force, 10 Hudson County Police Departments took to the basketball court today to help the families of two fallen Union City officers.

The tournament started at 10 a.m. in the Union City High School gym for the first annual cops vs. cops “Battle of the Badges.”

Union City Policemen’s Benevolent Association and Fraternal Order of Police sponsored the event, with a live DJ, food, drinks and prizes, including a 50/50 3-Point shooting contest to keep Officer Ricky Fernandez (Photo Credit in video: Union City Police Department) and Sgt. Mark Zeitounian (Photo Credit in video: Union City Police Department) in everyone’s heart and minds.

“I’m really happy to see that these guys took the ball and ran with it, so to speak,” says Sgt. David Chasmer of the Union City Police Department.

“We’re all neighboring towns so we tend to deal with each other a lot and we back each other up on jobs and things like that,” Chasmer says.

“This is a great way to get the community together and for all different city and town police departments to come together as one,” says West New York Police Officer, Marlon Chavez.

There were so many people to thank… starting with Mayor and State Sen. Brian Stack, 
 who made this happen.

“Also the Board of Education and all the elected officials in the city, as well as our local PBA #8 for bringing especially all the badges to one event,” Union City Officer Anthony Valdivia says.

Union City Officer Geoffrey Bass says it’s good to see the community representing and allows the police to show everyone that they’re there to support them and their officers.

“It feels really good, it’s really rewarding that we can actually give back to the families and everything of the officers that we’ve lost,” Bass says.

Two tragic passings within six months of each other… Fernandez and Zeitounian.

“We’re a tight community, a tight police department — it was a big hit for us,” Valdivia says.

Having this type of event brings all types of emotions and it means so much to so many.

According to UCPD Officer David Tafur, a portion of the proceeds are going to help these families.

Valdivia says it’s not a lot for the families but it’s something.

“Reminding them that we didn’t forget and we ain’t gonna forget,” the officer says.

It’s about having each other’s backs and always being there for each other.

“It’s a great deal for the police department, everybody coming out together, we’re all brothers and sisters, we all look out for each other, no matter what happens,” Tafur says.

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Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis


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