Two police officers give back to the area they patrol

Photo by Chris Sykes
At large Councilwoman October Hudley, second from left, stands with, from left, Irvington Police Officer Rhoniel Edwards and his partner, Officer Shakira Vernejo and a member of the One For All non-profit organization on Monday, Aug. 27, during the R.O.S.E.S. non-profit group’s Back To School Backpack and School Supplies Giveaway in the recently refurbished Grove Street Playground. Edwards and Vernejo formed the R.O.S.E.S. non-profit to give back directly to the township community that they patrol.

IRVINGTON, NJ — When it comes to members of the Irvington Police Department volunteering their time, energy and resources to the people they are sworn to protect, Mayor Tony Vauss and Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers said that is OK with them.

“Police officers giving their all when they are working is something to be applauded, but to give your time and effort to the kids and the community when you’re off is special,” said Bowers on Monday, Aug. 27. That same day IPD Officer Rhoniel Edwards and his partner, Detective Shakira Vernejo, used their R.O.S.E.S. nonprofit organization to conduct a Back To School Backpack and School Supplies Giveaway in the recently refurbished Grove Street Playground adjacent to Grove Street School.

At large Councilwoman and retired Grove Street School library media specialist October Hudley agreed with Bowers.

“The police officers, they come around and they make sure that this area in the community is safe,” said Hudley on Monday, Aug. 27. “Today, I’m really elated, because we actually have officers and we also have community volunteers who took their time — this is not something that they’re getting paid for — they actually took their time to volunteer and come back and give back to the community and I’m just elated. I can’t ask for anything more. A brand new park, beautiful people here and not only do they work here, but they actually give back to the community and that means a lot.”

Edwards and Vernejo said serving and protecting the Irvington community is both their job and a pleasure. They said R.O.S.E.S. is an acronym for “Respecting Others’ Struggles and Exhibiting Selflessness” and they specifically formed the charity to give back directly to the community they patrol.

“I patrol the area of Grove Street and the surrounding area and my partner, Detective Shakira Vernejo, and myself started the R.O.S.E.S. foundation,” said Edwards on Monday, Aug. 27. “It’s a community outreach foundation nonprofit, where we want to give back to the community. I know that Grove Street is one of the areas in Irvington that really needs more of a hands-on approach and more help with supplies and different things in the community.”

Joyce Osanyinlusi is a member of the Won Step Ahead group, which runs a business on Springfield Avenue that also hosts an annual end-of-summer Community Cookout and Back to School event in Chancellor Avenue Park. But she said the WSA event is not in competition with the R.O.S.E.S. foundation in its efforts to help the Irvington community, so she came out to Grove Street Playground to support the Aug. 27 event.

“We did our event on Saturday, Aug. 25, in Chancellor Avenue Park,” said Osanyinlusi on Monday, Aug. 27. “We had PBA Local 29 of the Irvington Police Department there. Other groups were there to sponsor us as well, so we’re giving back to them with our time and we donated some items today. This is just a wonderful event and we’re very happy and privileged to be a part of it. Thank you for allowing us to be here.”

Vauss said he’s always thankful for such organizations and individuals such as Edwards, Vernejo and Osanyinlusi.

For more information about the R.O.S.E.S. foundation, call the Irvington Police Department at 973-399-6537. For more information about Won Step Ahead, call Seyi Lusi at 908-858-0700.