West Trenton, N.J. - Today, Colonel Patrick J. Callahan announced that Detective Richard Hershey, of the Troop “A” Criminal Investigation Office, Field Operations Section, Operations Branch, is the recipient of the 2020 Trooper of the Year Award for his fearless and courageous actions during a home invasion investigation that resulted in him sustaining a gunshot wound to his abdomen.
On Saturday, April 25, 2020, Detective Hershey was investigating a violent home invasion that occurred at the Harding Woods Trailer Park in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County. While interviewing witnesses, several suspects involved in the robbery returned to the scene armed with handguns and confronted Detective Hershey. Despite identifying himself as a New Jersey State Trooper, the armed suspects continued to advance towards Detective Hershey at which point he drew his weapon in an attempt to defend himself and the witnesses. During the encounter, three of the suspects who were seated in a vehicle opened fire on Detective Hershey, striking him in his abdomen. Despite being critically wounded, Detective Hershey had the presence of mind to approach the fleeing vehicle and strike it with his handgun to leave a distinguishing mark to assist with later identifying the vehicle. Unable to walk and bleeding profusely, Detective Hershey managed to crawl behind cover and calmly call 911 to request assistance and emergency services.
During the exchange of gunfire, the suspects fired 13 rounds at Detective Hershey with many of the bullets striking nearby residences that were occupied at the time. Shortly after, Troopers arrived on scene to render aid to Detective Hershey. Detective Hershey was transported to Cooper University Hospital where he remained for several weeks before making a full recovery.
Three men were ultimately charged in the shooting of Detective Hershey, while 18 have been charged overall in connection with the investigation, which included the home invasion.
Detective Hershey’s outstanding dedication and commitment are deserving of the honor of being named, “Trooper of the Year.” His heroic actions undoubtedly protected the residents of that neighborhood and prevented further tragedy. The remarkable efforts of Detective Richard Hershey embody the New Jersey State Police core values of Honor, Duty, and Fidelity.
Every year, the New Jersey State Police selects an enlisted member or members to be the recipient of the “Trooper of the Year Award.” Recipients are awarded a red ribbon encased by a gold frame, which is to always be worn on the uniform. It is the highest honor a trooper can receive from within the Division. All recipients are honored for their outstanding performances, an honor which reflects great credit upon themselves and the New Jersey State Police.