By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
Earlier this month, hundreds of Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) officers began wearing a strikingly different kind of police badge, with blue and pink bands placed around the standard shield as a sign of support for colleagues and loved ones affected by breast cancer.
The idea was initiated by the department’s Women’s Law Enforcement Association (WLEA), which sought to enhance the officers’ standard dress code in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a show of solidarity for those affected by the disease. PAPD Officer Kristen Lynch-Stambuli, the association’s president, was a leading proponent of the recognition effort, along with other members of the WLEA and PAPD brass.
For Lynch-Stambuli, her involvement was deeply personal. “Everyone has been touched by the disease in some way, including myself. My mother, Diane Lynch, has been a breast cancer survivor for 18 years. I have witnessed first-hand how devastating this disease is to families,” said Lynch-Stambuli, who was in the eighth grade when her mother was diagnosed.
The WLEA further noted in a statement that it was “humbled by the support from all Port Authority employees, especially the officers that participated. Their assistance made our first fundraiser a huge success.”
After they were developed for PAPD officers, the bands soon spread in popularity. The Marlboro and Freehold police departments in New Jersey purchased a total of about 100 bands from the WLEA to adorn the badges of their departments.
“I knew immediately this was a fantastic idea. There are many family and friends within our community who are affected by cancer,” said Marlboro Police Patrolman James Caulfield. “These bands may be small, but when they are worn on a badge of a police officer they make a very bold and powerful statement.” Marlboro police purchased 70 of them for use by each member of the department.
In addition to a show of solidarity for women afflicted with breast cancer, the bands – purchased from the group American Police Veterans — became a fundraising opportunity for the association. To date, more than 1,000 bands have been sold to the three police departments at $5 each. The group also has sold more than 120 T-shirts, for $20 apiece. Proceeds go to Gilda’s Club, an organization that benefits cancer patients.
The WLEA also marked October by participating in the 2016 Jersey City Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. Next year, the association hopes to make the bands available to civilians as well.
“As police officers, the WLEA wanted to encourage public and community support for anyone who has gone or is going through this type of trial in their lives — and to know that they are recognized by the Port Authority Police Department,” Lynch-Stambuli said.