By Heather Kays
Newark, NJ—Members of the Police Division were presented with awards Friday for outstanding service to the City of Newark at a public ceremony held at St. Lucy’s Church.
The award recipients included police officers, civilian personnel, business and law enforcement partners and community members who were given medals, awards and certificates in recognition of acts of valor, meritorious conduct and other service distinctions.
During the ceremony Detective Joe Soares was named the 2018 Purple Heart Recipient. Soares told TAPInto Newark that he was ecstatic to be given the award and that he had no idea it was coming.
“I feel terrific,” said Soares. “It’s a great day.”
Soares was shot once in the chest while executing a narcotics search warrant. A police officer for 17 years and member of the SWAT team for 13 years, Soares did not return fire despite the harm that befell him. Soares said there was a child sleeping in a room inside the premises.
A humble Soares said he responded exactly the way he was supposed to based on his training and that he simply did his job. Soares said he had good days and bad days since he was shot and that the day it happened seemed like any other up until being shot once in the left side of his chest. The protective gear he was wearing saved his life.
On Friday, Soares posed for photos and spoke with residents, other officers, and officials who congratulated and thanked him.
“Thank you for the work that you do every day single day for the residents and the citizens of this community,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “We appreciate the work that you do… the hard work that you do every single day to make our city safer.”
Baraka thanked all the officers and citizens recognized for the work they do in the city on behalf of the entire city and noted several outside agencies the city developed partnerships with and who help Newark when necessary.
“We’re here today because of the bravery, the honor, the hard work that goes into policing in our city,” said Baraka. “I’d like to congratulate all of you.”
Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose also spoke and expressed gratitude to all the officers and public servants in attendance.
Baraka said in Newark the police are appreciated not only for protecting citizens but also for doing their jobs in a way that upholds the constitutional rights of the city’s residents.
“What’s happening in Newark should be a model for what happens around the country,” Baraka said.