June 2, 2021
By Justin Mayewski
Lyndhurst’s very own school resource officer Police Sgt. Passamano is representing New Jersey in the national competition for the 2021 Enrique S. Camarena Award. Passamano has won the award at the lodge, district and state levels, and he will be honored later this week at the state convention in Wildwood.
Enrique S. Camarena was an American intelligence officer for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. In February of 1985, Camarena was kidnapped by drug traffickers in Guadalajara, Mexico. Agent Camarena was interrogated, tortured and murdered.
Each year the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, through the Drug Awareness Program, presents the Enrique S. Camarena Award to a member of the law enforcement community who best exemplifies the qualities and principles for which Agent Camarena gave his life.
Science teacher Mr. Frew, who is a member of the Elks Lodge, nominated Passamano for this year’s award with the help of retired police officer and former school resource officer Bobby Jankowski and sophomore Caila Barreiros.
Barreiros wrote a recommendation letter for Passamano in which she described what he does every day for the Lyndhurst community.
“I truly believe that I received this award because of Caila, who took the time to recognize what I do every day in our schools and for the students,” Passamano said. “I am beyond honored and grateful to receive this award that is in honor of DEA Agent Camarena.”
“He makes us all feel safe and welcomed in our community, and this town would not be the same without him.”
Passamano is beginning his 19th year as a police officer. However, he only joined Lyndhurst Public Schools as a school resource officer in March 2017.
“I always wanted to help others. I am very fortunate to grow up in Lyndhurst and have such a supportive family who helped push me to achieve my goals,” Passamano said.
In addition to serving as school resource officer, Passamano advises LHS’ Law Enforcement Club, which is open to 12th graders.
“The most rewarding part of my job is coming to work every day knowing I have a chance to change a student’s life in a positive way,” Passamano said. “Being in the schools with the students and being able to make an impact on their lives every day is my passion.”
Sophomore football player Gregory Frangipane said he has gotten to know Sgt. Passamano because of Passamano’s involvement with all of LHS’ sports teams. Frangipane said Passamano makes it a point to get to know the athletes well.
“Sgt. Passamano has been such an important part of a lot of the LHS students’ lives, and I don’t know anyone more suitable for this award,” Frangipane said.
He said Passamano brings joy to everyone in Lyndhurst.
“He makes us all feel safe and welcomed in our community, and this town would not be the same without him,” Frangipane said.
Guidance counselor Ms. Leidemer said what stands out to her about Passamano is his dedication to drug and alcohol prevention among students.
“He is always participating in various drug prevention programs for the students and staff,” Leidemer said.
She said in addition to making a positive impact inside Lyndhurst’s school buildings, Sgt. Passamano is dedicated to helping the residents of Lyndhurst.
“He is the bridge that helps connect school and community, which lends itself to the success of both,” said Leidemer.