LINDENWOLD – If you’ve ever seen a police officer in Camden County, chances are he or she has been trained by Peter “Pete” Slusser.
Now the name of Pete Slusser will be remembered forever, even with the elite era ending of the recently retired Camden County Prosecutor’s Office sergeant teaching numerous law enforcement agencies the proper use of guns, and as a result saving lives.
During a touching tribute to name the Camden County Police Firing Range in Lindenwold after him, Sgt. Slusser’s own “name calling” was humorously recalled.
The 64-year-old Slusser “treated everyone the same on the shooting range,” Ron Moten, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives told the adoring crowd of 250 family members and friends of Sgt. Slusser as well as law enforcement officials who attended the Tuesday (5/10/16) afternoon ceremony at the Charles J. DePalma Complex in Lindenwold.
Chief Moten said how it didn’t matter the rank, if someone made a mistake on the range, Slusser would call them his favorite animated name of choice. The name calling wasn’t berating. Rather, Slusser was punctuating his No. 1 rule on the range: Safety first.
The shooting range was formally named the Sergeant Peter C. Slusser Firearms Training Center in honor of the retirement of the beloved 22-year veteran of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
“We are here to honor our teacher and friend who has spent years training thousands at the range,” said Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo to open the hour-long ceremony. “He taught how to use weapons and he taught restraint when not to deploy weapons.
“We thank him for his devotion and for being our hero.”
Prosecutor Colalillo and Chief Moten also thanked the Camden County Board of Freeholders for approving the naming of the range after Sgt. Slusser.
First Assistant Prosecutor Mark Chase presented Sgt. Slusser with a United States flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol building on April 11, 2016.
“Pete touched everyone when he worked in the office,” First Prosecutor Chase said.
Bill Staas, the Section Chief in Civil Ligations and Records Management in the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, recited Sgt. Slusser’s past accomplishments, which include receiving the West Point Command and Law Enforcement Leadership Course Farrell Award for highest academic average and the New Jersey State Police Valor Commendation.
Sgt. Slusser combined being a lifetime gun enthusiast and hunter with being the Camden County Range Master since 1998. He supervised, maintained, coordinated and scheduled approximately 45 local, county, state and federal agencies on a yearly basis.
“The range and Pete, they were synonomous,” Section Chief Staas said. “He put in countless hours.”
Fittingly, Sgt. Slusser’s name is now on the range.
“It is very humbling,” Sgt. Slusser said after the tribute. “You go through life and you take so much stuff for granted … I was just doing my job, and to see everyone come out is humbling.”
Section Chief Staas said Sgt. Slusser taught “what it feels like when a gun goes off and how it smells … when in court you knew what you were talking about.”
However, Sgt. Slusser didn’t just teach how to shoot and how to be safe. When he was diagnosed with cancer recently, Section Chief Staas said, “he put his gun away, he lead by example.”
Former Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Captain Greg Buttari spoke about Sgt. Slusser’s love for the range, his work and his family.
“He was a warrior” Captain Greg Buttari said. “You wanted him near you. He feared no man or beast.
“There was no ghost about him. He was either on his way to work, at work or on his way home from work.
“Pete turned into the man – the man to go to when you had a problem.”
Chief Moten and Sgt. Slusser were hired only a couple months apart in 1995.
“When I was young and doing undercover and I was scared, I knew he had my back,” Chief Moten said.
Chief Moten said there never was a safety incident when Sgt. Slusser was the Ranger Master.
“I will always remember the passion and knowledge that Pete had for firearms,” Chief Moten said. “He could tell you about any weapon on the planet.”
Chief Moten said First Assistant Prosecutor Chase and Chief of Staff Mike Mangold came up with the idea to name the range.
Chief of Staff Mangold worked with Sgt. Slusser in both the Narcotic Unit and High Risk Entry Team for over 10 years.
“Pete is the consumate professional,” Chief of Staff Mangold said. “He is the most knowledgeable tactical person I have ever met. Pete was a great team player who was always willing to share his knowledge and expertise with our close-knit family at the CCPO as well as brother law enforcement agencies.
“It is my honor to call him my friend.”
And it is an honor for the shooting range to bear the name of Pete Slusser.
“I’m very content, it makes me feel very happy,” Sgt. Slusser said when asked what it meant to him to have the range named after him.
“When I think about it, what I hope happens to come out of it is, if a recruit comes here and asks who is Pete Slusser, I hope the Range Master tells him.”
Released Friday, May 13, 2016