Laid-Off N.J. Cop Catches ATM Robber

The man who caught an armed robber last week after a $400,000 ATM delivery holdup had been laid off from the Newark Police Department months ago, and was working for Public Service Electric and Gas Company.

The utility sought out the laid-off officers for jobs after the police department had to shrink its force by more than 160 cops in a budget crunch last December.

The officer has not been identified, but PSE&G Central Regional Manager Vic Schoenig recounted its employee's act of bravery.

"He heard the gunfire, saw people running,"  Schoenig said. "The officer on the job took the liberty of apprehending the suspect."

It took place last Friday in Newark's Ironbound neighborhood, when two robbers tried to rob a security guard who was refilling ATMs in the area.

The guard carrying the money -- who himself was a retired police officer -- pulled his gun, wounding one of the suspects while taking a couple of shots himself.

The robber jumped in his car, but crashed it just a block away.

And that's when the laid-off cop caught up to him after running away from the utility work scene where he was providing security.

"We were very proud to be associated with such bravery," Schoenig said.

That officer was one of 50 that the utility is using to provide traffic control security at their urban work sites.

PSE&G President Ralph LaRossa said the utility's effort to hire laid-off officers "all comes down to creating jobs."

One of those officers is Chris Reid, 34, who had worked two years on the force before he got his pink slip last winter.

"I was born in Newark, raised in Newark," Reid said. "I really would like to still have an impact in this city in this capacity of being a police officer."

For Reid and the others, that may not be too far off.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Cory Booker says Newark is applying for a federal grant that would allow it to hire most of its officers back.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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