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Lawrence Twp. Says Goodbye to Four Police Officers

The Lawrence Township Police Department bid a bittersweet farewell on Friday to four police officers - Erini Papafilipakis, Chris Schuster, Iwona Smith and Chris Stylianou - who have transfered to Hamilton Township to avoid being laid off in Lawrence.

“Bittersweet” was the word often repeated Friday afternoon (Aug. 24) as Lawrence Township said goodbye to four police officers during a ceremony that was held at the Lawrence Township police station just hours after the four were officially sworn in by their new employer, the Hamilton Township Police Department.

Erini Papafilipakis, Chris Schuster, Iwona Smith and Chris Stylianou from Lawrence Township to Hamilton Township’s police force in advance of being laid off because of Lawrence’s municipal budget woes.

Smith and Styliano were set to lose their jobs as part of the , while Papafilipakis and Schuster were .

The four officers had a combined 12 years of service to Lawrence Township.

 “I’ve been here a long time. I never thought I would see this day. I told [Police] Chief [Jim] Collins [of Hamilton Township] our loss is your gain,” Lawrence Township Police Chief Daniel Posluszny told the departing officers and their families. “You are always a part of us. If you ever need anything, we are here for you.”

Later, he told a Patch reporter, “I’m going to miss them a lot.”

Schuster said the decision to leave Lawrence was difficult, but one that he needed to make in order to provide for his family.  

“I’m at a loss. It’s all friends here. This is a great place. But I’ve got three kids and I can’t wait around [to be laid off],” he said. “Layoffs happen, but I’m sad to go. The good thing is, I get to take a lot with me.”

For Smith, this marks the second time she has escaped a layoff as a police officer. A year ago she just before the state’s capital city laid off more than 100 police officers.

“I’m happy I’ll have a job to go to,” she said. When she transferred from Trenton a year ago, Smith was told 'we’ll never have layoffs' in Lawrence.

“It is unbelievable. I hope this is it for me,” she said.

Smith speaks both Russian and Polish, and believes she might be the only police officer in Mercer County who speaks Polish. In her farewell speech on Friday, she offered to continue to act as a translator on an as-needed basis for Lawrence.

Papafilipakis grew up in Lawrence Township. “I was born and raised here. I’m really going to miss all the guys here,” she said.

She said she is trying to look at it as a case of “one door closing and another door opening.”

“It shows how great a department we are. We are knowledgeable, educated, and disciplined,” Papafilipakis said, noting that Hamilton “is a very welcoming department. I’m looking forward to it.”

Stylianou is another hometown police officer. Before joining the Lawrence Township Police Department, he was a member of the New York City Police Department.

“My parents still live here. It is a sad day to not be able to ride out my career here,” Stylianou said. “I get to stay in the area. I’m grateful for the opportunity Hamilton gave me and the other officers. I’m embracing that I am going to Hamilton.”

As with Smith, Stylianou said he hopes “the third time is the charm.” With his wife expecting their first child in December, he added, “It is big relief knowing I have a job.”

Following speeches and small celebration, the officers were officially dismissed from duty during a ceremony in front of the police station that featured Bagpipers from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and the Ancient Order of the Hibernians.

One by one, Chief Posluszny said to the departing officers “I’d like to thank you for your service to the Lawrence Township Police Department and wish you all the best in your service with the Police Department in Hamilton Township. You are now dismissed from duty.”

Posluszny concluded by radioing the township’s dispatcher to “please alert patrol our roll call has now ended and that badge numbers 219, 220, 223 and 224 have been retired.”

“It is really sad. I’m very glad Hamilton could pick them up as fast as they could,” said Andrew Lee, president of Lawrence Township Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 209.

It remains unclear at this time how the transfers of the four officers will affect the fate of Officer Ryan Dunn, a recent who was set to be laid off with Smith and Styliano at the end of this month.

Chief Wahoo August 27, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Too hilarious for words
Tom August 27, 2012 at 02:21 PM
How wonderful. The township is responsible for 6,000 students at Rider University and their commitment to that responsibility is layoffs. It just makes me so happy to know that my daughter is in such good hands.
grill master August 27, 2012 at 02:27 PM
They have to layoff more cops so that Dick Krookzun can keep his $185,000/year salary as Township Mis-Manager.
JefeDeJefe August 27, 2012 at 03:13 PM
According to the 2012 Budget (look for sheet 12)(http://www.lawrencetwp.com/documents/manager/Budget2012/2012%20Amended%20Budget.pdf) the Municipal Manager's salary is $195,353. Did you forget he gave himself as raise while at the same time laying off workers and threatening to end trash pickup?
Ira L. Marks August 27, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Certainly the township could have made better financial decisions over the last few years that has unfortunately brought us to the laying off of police, but to imply that the township manager is a crook is totally ridiculous.. I suggest that "grill master" stop this line of ridicule immediately.
Chief Wahoo August 27, 2012 at 03:44 PM
why cant public employees ever leave without giving themselves parties, awards, etc....the private sector just walks away quietly and pays the taxes for these pompous blowhards to always pat themselves on the backs.....
Tom August 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
The private sector doesn't give parties for employee who are leaving? You must have never worked in the private sector.
K :) August 27, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I am sad to see these fine officers go - they were special to this town.. I can only wish them the best of luck in the future!
grill master August 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Sorry, you are correct. I did forget about that raise. There are controllers and finance managers in the private sector that don't get paid that much.
grill master August 27, 2012 at 04:03 PM
And why is calling him a crook ridiculous? He is a crook. You admitted yourself in your post. "Certainly the township could have made better financial decisions over the last few years that has unfortunately brought us to the laying off of police" To me that is stealing. He was hired to do his job to the best of his ability...and he failed, but still gives himself a raise. That's stealing.
Chief Wahoo August 27, 2012 at 04:19 PM
really Tom ???....just let me know where the next layoff party is being held and i will be there
Tom August 27, 2012 at 04:35 PM
This isn't a layoff party. This is a party for people going to another job. Next time you might try reading the article. But in any case, I have been to lay off parties in the local bar after the layoffs were announced to take effect that day and I have been to layoff parties when they were announced to be happening 2 weeks in the future. When people you like are losing their job you don't just turn your back on them. Or do you?
SHSB August 27, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Rider pays zero dollars in taxes to Lawrence Township. Rider failed to reply to the Township's letter asking for a voluntary donation to help balance the budget. Somehow I don't think Rider is the loser in all this.
Tom August 27, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I see, the township is only responsible to those who pay taxes. Does this mean that police coverage will now be determined by how much tax each home pays? Whether Rider pays taxes or not (which it is not required to do by state law) the township is still responsible to provide police coverage to the school. Perhaps you don't take that responsibility seriously.
I know you August 27, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Hey Wahoo it's amazing how you surround yourself with public employees and even pretend to be one but sling mud so freely behind the Internet. Just because you didn't make the cut to be a public employee doesn't mean you have to be bitter.
bark34 August 27, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Anyway we wanna slice this the fact remains that we lost these 4 police officers on our force cause the dopes who run this town couldn't properly balance a budget. That's the sad part. Hope they can sleep well at night...
maggie smith August 27, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Tell me i am not living to see this happen to this town
Chief Wahoo August 27, 2012 at 07:34 PM
no one has mention the pink elephant in the room.......2013 budget is going to be even WORSE !!!
Dirty Harry August 28, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I am keeping my gun loaded and buying a pit bull. God only knows how long it will take for the police to come when I need them with all these layoffs.
Dirty Harry August 28, 2012 at 12:38 AM
The state police crime reporting website says Lawrence had 69 officers in 2009 and 68 in 2010. Does anyone know how many we have now the site doesn't show 2011 and 2012 yet.
Michael Ratcliffe (Editor) August 28, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I believe the township will be down to 58 officers, following the four transfers, the deputy chief's retirement on Sept. 1 and the pending disability retirement of another officer.
josh hamilton August 28, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Whew...... I survived the Hurricane and Im back. Wahoo, you are such a moron. My blood boils every time I read a post of yours. You are such a jealous low life. But then I remember that you are paying my pension ans SMILE. Just so you know Wahoo, I took my boat out the water before the hurricane hit and it's all safe and sound. You could only wish to wear the blue uniform that I once wore and what my brothers and sisters currently wear. Man up Wahoo and admit that you are just a coward who could never wear the uniform that these fine "transfered officers" wear.
T Voice September 10, 2012 at 01:38 PM
There are plenty of police on duty. There was an incident yesterday where a 10 yr old climbed a neighbors fence to get his ball and two police crusiers responded. They should have told them to file a complaint on line. That is ridiculous that two responded they must not have had anything else to do!!1
Tom September 10, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Responded to what? Are you saying someone called the police to report that a 10 year old climbed a fence into their yard and the police responded? The only thing I can think is that whoever called made it sound like a break-in and that is why the police responded with two cars.

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