East Orange honors women in public safety in virtual ceremony

EAST ORANGE, NJ — On March 22, East Orange 1st Ward Councilwoman and Public Safety Chairperson Amy Lewis, along with fellow Councilwomen Alicia Holman, Tameika Garrett-Ward and Brittany Claybrooks, honored three female East Orange Police Department officers during a virtual ceremony called “An Applause for Her” for Women’s History Month.

Lt. Marilyn Berrouet, Sgt. Keanna Thorne and Sgt. Lakia Asiedu were recognized for their fearless efforts to save the lives of East Orange residents.

“(Lt. Marilyn Berrouet) and Sgt. Keanna Thorne responded to an attempted suicide of a gentleman,” police Chief Phyllis Bindi said at the event. “This was during the midst of a pandemic and it was ramping up once again. What they were doing, as they do every day when they put on this uniform, was risking their lives, the lives of their brothers and sisters at the police department, and also their families.

“They responded to a call, got together, used their training and tactics effectively to ensure that the male resident was brought to safety and he did not take his life,” Bindi continued, praising them for their courage in going up to a dark roof, where they could barely see the man or one another, and saving the man’s life. “I would like to give a hand to Berrouet’s leadership, where she stepped into that role just about a year ago now and hit the ground running. I do appreciate her and everything she does for the police department.”

Berrouet was promoted to lieutenant in February 2020. 

Bindi also praised Berrouet and Thorne for their dedication to helping the suicidal man despite not knowing whether or not he had COVID-19. 

This was not the only time in the past year that Thorne has come to the rescue.

“In August 2020, we got a call from the mayor about an unconscious female in a vehicle — she was 16 years old,” Bindi said. “They were having a hard time getting there that day and there was a backup on calls due to the pandemic. Thanks to the sergeant’s quick thinking, actions and tactics, she put the 16-year-old in her car and successfully got her, along with the officers, to the hospital, and she was fine, breathing and alert. We are appreciative of that as well.”

According to Bindi, Asiedu’s heroic actions similarly deserve praise.

“Sgt. Asiedu was promoted to the rank of sergeant Nov. 8, 2017, and jumped into that leadership role,” Bindi said. “On Jan. 7, 2021, she responded to a call of an unresponsive 3-year-old child who had been having seizures for at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to her arriving. More unique to this situation, we had a tracking system where we knew what houses or buildings had COVID. This house was positive for COVID.

“I would like to say hats off to you, Sergeant,” she continued. “You went into this home of these individuals knowing that there was a positive COVID in there. Your tactics, response, your heart, your leadership, everything you’ve been taught, brought up with and raised with kicked in that day. On their way to the hospital, this child then became alert, conscious, crying and was on their way to better health. I commend you, and I applaud you for your selfless act.”

East Orange Mayor Ted Green also applauded Berrouet, Thorne and Asiedu for their heroism.

“I could not be more proud of the officers being honored today,” Green said in a statement. “While other departments are struggling with diversity, sensitivity and transparency, our department is truly putting in the hard work and genuine effort to build a department reflective of the community it serves. We know this approach does and will continue to protect and save lives. Congratulations to these women, EOPD as a whole and the dynamic women of our East Orange City Council for all they do to promote gender equity and inclusion in the city.”

Photos Courtesy of City of East Orange

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