Died on the job in 1970
Secaucus dedicates police statue all officers, and a plaque to one long gone
by Hannington Dia
Reporter Staff Writer
Sep 24, 2017 | 2310 views | 0 0 comments | 148 148 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MEMORIAL
Secaucus officials and residents honored departed officer George Rennie and all active and retired officers, through a statue dedication.
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The town of Secaucus dedicated a new statue last weekend to all active and retired police officers. The statue also included a plaque honoring Officer George Rennie, who died in an on-duty motorcycle crash on Oct. 5. 1970.

The accident occurred as Rennie was riding his police motorcycle on Paterson Plank Road. He crashed into a stalled car, according to a local news report at the time. He died a few days later at 24. The driver was pushing his vehicle towards a service station at the time because it did not work, the article said. Rennie was the first police officer in town to perish in the line of duty, according to a memorial page on the department’s website.

Officials at the event gave a separate plaque to Laura Greenwell, Rennie's first cousin once removed, who came from Louisiana for the dedication.

“To the family of Officer Rennie, I'd like to say a simple 'thank you,'” said Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez at the ceremony.

“Even though his sacrifice happened some time ago, please know it was for all of us. We all acknowledge that, and all the police officers here who serve everyone.”

She added, “Even thought my job as the county prosecutor puts me at the center of the law enforcement community, I still can't equate what I do on a daily basis with what law enforcement does every day.”

“As many of you noticed, a number of weeks ago, we erected this beautiful statue in honor of all the men and women who serve our communities,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli. “It is without hesitation that I can say that the department of Secaucus is one of the best police departments in the nation. I recognize that each day, police officers come to work and risk their lives to protect our community. Officer Rennie served his department with distinction.”

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“He was a great officer.” – Frank Schillari

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Family and friends speak

Greenwell spoke after receiving the plaque for her cousin.

“George Rennie was killed when I was about 13 years old, so I had met him, but he was a legend in my family,” Greenwell said. “Anyone who steps up and serves their community, I just want you to know how well you are valued. Not only by the community, but by your family. It is so appreciated by everyone.”

Joseph McKay of Secaucus, who was best friends with Rennie since they were teens, shared his memories after the ceremony.

“He lived across the street from my grandparents,” McKay said. “We were best friends all through the years. We went to school together. He had a great sense of humor; he was the happiest person.”

According to McKay, Rennie decided to quit college to become a police officer, even though his grades were good.

“He was going to be a history teacher,” McKay added. “He kind of got discouraged and decided he wanted to leave college for a while and go out in the job world.”

Rennie then got a position working for New Jersey Bell – known today as Verizon -- but was unhappy and began part-time security work instead, McKay said. Eventually, he decided to apply for the police force.

Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari said he worked with Rennie as a special police officer in town during the late 1960s.

He said he saw Rennie a mere 20 minutes before the fatal accident. “He was a great officer,” Schillari said. “He was in a coma for a few days after the accident. It was a terrible tragedy for everybody.”

Today, a picture of Rennie hangs in Schillari's office as a tribute, he said.

Hannington Dia can be reached at hd@hudsonreporter.com

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