WOODBURY, NJ (April 18, 2017)--Starting with undercover work to thwart underage drinking in Wildwood night clubs and continuing into the sometimes dangerous world of narcotics interdiction, Sgt. Danielle Lorusso of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office was honored last week by her colleagues in the County Narcotics Commanders Association of New Jersey for her 23-year law enforcement career.
Along with three officers from other counties, Sgt. Lorusso received a plaque citing her drug enforcement contributions at a CNCA luncheon at a Forked River restaurant on Thursday (4/13). Among her notable cases was the arrest of a “multi-kilogram” South Jersey cocaine dealer and the breakup of an operation exporting marijuana to Bermuda.
“Sgt. Lorusso has had an outstanding career and has been a role model for other law enforcement officers in expanding their community impact by not only investigating drug activity but also advocating and raising awareness of the significant health risks associated with drug use,” said Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton.
After 15 years in undercover narcotics assignments for Cape May and the GCPO, Lorusso served eight years as the GCPO’s first female commander of the office’s Guns, Gangs and Narcotics Task Force. She became recording secretary on the board of the CNCA in 2011.
Her entry into law enforcement was as a Class II patrol officer in Wildwood, NJ where she was asked by the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office to trade her uniform for party outfits and pretend to be a bar patron while looking for people too young to be drinking.
“They needed a very young looking police officer to go work in the bars,” Lorusso recalled. She went to work the same day a Cape May County narcotics officer spotted her writing a daily report and had her go home and change clothes, she said.
“Instead of just sitting there and watching people for underage drinking, I was able to get information from a guy who I could tell was obviously the main guy, selling drugs,” she said. An impressed officer with the Cape May Prosecutor’s Office asked her to submit a resume and she began working narcotics for the CMPO in 1994.
Three years later, at an awards dinner in memory of a State Police officer killed while investigating a Gloucester County methamphetamine operation, Lorusso met then- GCPO Chief of Detectives Bob Armstrong, and another job offer resulted in the county where she grew up, married and is raising two children.
“It’s not just being able to go in and buy drugs,” she said, acknowledging she’s had guns pointed at her and been assaulted. “If you don’t have the street smarts, you can really get hurt.”
In the course of her work, Lorusso was recognized several times as state and county officer of the year and teamed often with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on investigations.
Last year, Lorusso received a new assignment, in charge of a new GCPO community outreach unit, and specifically coordinating a drug abuse prevention and education initiative targeting high school students.
Though she misses the excitement and challenge of narcotics enforcement, she recognizes that prevention is a “whole different type of worthwhile.”
“What I’m doing is a priority, and I treat it as if it is,” she said. “It’s nice to let people know there’s more to law enforcement than arresting somebody.”