Cranford Police Officer Michael Gamba receives Valor Award

(above, l-r) Attorney General Matthew Platkin, Officer Michael Gamba, and Cranford Police Chief Ryan J. Greco.
Courtesy photo

Officer Michael Gamba receives Valor Award

Cranford Police Department

On Friday, May 12th 2023, the New Jersey Office of Attorney General presented Officer Michael Gamba of the Cranford Police Department the Detective Joseph Seals Valor Award at an Excellence in Policing Awards ceremony hosted in Trenton, New Jersey. 

Nearly a year earlier on the evening of May 28, 2022, Cranford Patrol Units responded to the senior housing complex located at 40 Meeker Avenue for a reported Domestic Violence incident. The incident involved an elderly woman who stated that her son had physically assaulted her and during the course of the assault, pointed a firearm in her direction. The mother further stated that her son may be having suicidal thoughts. Sgt. Steven D’Ambola, Officer Michael Gamba, and Officer Nicholas Cook proceeded to the residence to make contact with the suspect and place him under arrest.

As each of the officers arrived on scene, it was determined that the suspect had already left the residence and was walking in the neighborhood. Due to the beautiful Spring night, there were many pedestrians in the area which made the situation more complicated. Officer Michael Gamba spotted the individual walking down Meeker Avenue toward the apartment complex. Utilizing a ballistic shield, the officers tactically approached the suspect, placing themselves in the line of fire should the suspect be armed. As Sgt. D’Ambola began the approach, the suspect began to back away ignoring the verbal commands of the officers.

Fearing that the individual may still indeed be armed, Officer Michael Gamba exited his position of cover and moved quickly toward the suspect. As Off. Gamba approached, the suspect reached into his waistband and began to raise a black semi-automatic firearm. Officer Gamba immediately recognized the firearm, and without hesitation placed himself in direct danger in what was most certainly a Deadly Force encounter. Off. Gamba grabbed hold of the firearm by placing his hand on the slide and wrestled the firearm from the suspect’s hand. Off. Cook and Sgt. D’Ambola immediately tackled the suspect to the ground and placed him under arrest. “The heroic actions by all three officers almost certainly prevented injuries not only to themselves, but also the innocent pedestrians in the area,” Chief Ryan J. Greco said

Once the scene became stabilized, and the suspect was in custody, it was determined that the firearm was a loaded 9mm Polymer80 Inc. “Ghost Gun.” The significance of this incident has brought much attention to the topic of Ghost Guns. This gun was ordered in numerous pieces via the internet as the suspect, a known drug-user with psychiatric issues, would never have been legally able to own a firearm.

For his efforts, Officer Michael Gamba was awarded with the Detective Joseph Seals Valor Award by Attorney General Matthew Platkin. According to the Attorney General’s Office, the “Detective Joseph Seals Valor Award honors a police officer who demonstrated an act of extraordinary bravery or heroism in the line of duty. The award honors Detective Joseph Seals, a 13-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, who lost his life in the line of duty in December 2019. Detective Seals’ actions in December 2019 likely saved the lives of many others.”

Present for the ceremony on behalf of the Cranford Police Department were Chief Ryan J. Greco and Captain Matthew R. Nazzaro. 

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