Photos & Audio: Retiring FTPD Lt. Russo Takes Final Walkout From Police HQ

Russo Retirement Walkout - 25

Retiring FTPD Lt. Darrin Russo deposits his radio on the podium outside police headquarters June 24 after making his final signoff.

Township Police Lt. Darrin Russo took his final walkout from police headquarters June 24 in a ceremony that included a pipes and drum corps, honor guard and presentation of a flag flown in his honor over the U.S. Capitol.

Russo, 52, retires at the end of June with more than 30 years on the force as a patrolman, detective and supervisor. Commemoration of his retirement was an all-day affair, with a breakfast gathering in the morning at The Imperia on Easton Avenue and the final walkout early in the afternoon.

The walkout ceremony was the first held by the department, said Ptl. Richard Hartnett, who organized the event.

Under the watchful eyes of a police honor guard and Russo’s fellow officers lined up in formation at the rear of police headquarters, the lieutenant was preceded out of the building by his parents and his wife and five children.

Russo made his way down the line, shaking hands with the officers, then exchanged greetings with friends and family members on the other side of the parking area.

Township Police Chief Lawrence Roberts said Russo did his job “with class, with dignity and with integrity, and that’s all you could ask for.”

“You were everything we asked for as a street cop, as a detective and as a supervisor, and I want to thank you for your 31 years of service,” Roberts said. “The most important thing is, you made it 31 years, you made it intact and you made it safe.”

Mayor Phillip Kramer said he wished “I had 50 more like him” on the police force.

“This is a great police force, but it would make it that much greater,” he said.

Andrew Smith, a U.S. Marshall stationed in Washington D.C., made the trip up to honor Russo. Smith said he first met Russo eight years ago during a Police Unity Challenge Ride, and he wanted to acknowledge his retirement.

“I had the opportunity this morning when I left the house, through our friends at the US Capitol Police, I have a flag that was flying over the US Capitol this morning,” he said.

A certificate accompanying the flag states that it was flown “in recognition of his over 30 years of service in law enforcement.”

After everyone had spoken, Russo made his ceremonial final radio call, at the end of which he placed his radio on the speaker’s podium.

Audio: Lt. Rosso’s Final Radio Call

Earlier, at his retirement breakfast, Russo remembered some of the highlights of his three decades as a township police officer, recognizing those in attendance with whom he had partnered and otherwise worked with during his career.

“What a journey it’s been,” he said. “The journey had many ups and downs. I made some right choices, I made some wrong choices.”

Russo said that over the past several years, he has heard praise for the Franklin police department by members of other police forces.

Russo, who said he has worked under five different chiefs of police, laid the credit for that respect on Roberts and Deputy Police Chief Richard Grammar.

“It makes you proud, working for this kind of place, with that kind of respect,” he said. “I’m proud of that, and I’m proud of you guys.”

“This is definitely the end of an era,” Roberts said at the breakfast.

“Darrin did this job at 150 percent every day,” he said. “He always had the department and the citizens of this town in his best interests.”

“He sets the example and the bar high of what a police officer should be,” Roberts said.

Kramer said that he “always admired everything that he’s done, and I admire him.”

Referencing Russo’s run for Somerset County Sheriff, Kramer said, “I look forward to his continued professional involvement in law enforcement.”

Recalling that he first met Russo when he was a young patrolman, State Assemblyman Joseph Danielsen (D-17) said the lieutenant “gave every day 100 percent of your heart.”

“You’re going to go on to do big things,” Danielsen said. “The community is greatly in your debt.”

FTPD Det. Pat Colligan, president of the NJ state PBA, was an early partner of Russo’s.

“It was a great experience riding with Darrin, and I learned a lot from him,” he said. “He’s got a career to look back on and be very proud of.”

Hartnett said he wanted to have the walkout ceremony for Russo “because after an officer, regardless of his rank, spends 30 quality years in a town, he deserves a final goodbye. I wanted to acknowledge his service and dedication to the community.”

Russo said after the ceremony that he was “honored.”

“I had a lot of ups and downs in the job,” he said. “I had a lot of fun, a lot of partners, a lot of situations. I think I had a really wonderful career.”

Russo is the Democratic candidate for Somerset County Sheriff, looking to unseat incumbent Sheriff Frank Provenzano.

2016 Lt. Russo Walkout Ceremony/Breakfast


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