Linden police officer mourned by community

Photo courtesy of Linden PD
Linden Police Officer Daniel Kuczynski ‘never wanted to take credit,’ said his commanding officer.

LINDEN, NJ — The city of Linden is mourning longtime police officer and director of the Linden Police Athletic League, Daniel Kuczynski, 45, who was struck by a train and killed on the morning of June 12 near Stiles Street in Linden. Kuczynski was off duty at the time of the incident.

There were about 800 passengers aboard the Amtrak train when the incident occurred.

The Linden Police Department released a statement on the day of the incident.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Linden Police Officer Daniel Kuczynski, who was killed this morning when he was struck by a train just after 7:30 a.m.,” read the statement. “The circumstances leading up to and surrounding this tragedy remain under investigation by the Amtrak Police Department.”

A candlelight vigil for Kuczynski was held the following day at Dobson Park.
Linden Chief of Police Jonathan Parham also commented on Kuczynski’s passing in a press release.

“As police officers, we strive to make a difference, and through his work Danny had a profound impact on our city’s children,” Parham said on the day of the incident. “We ask that you keep Danny’s family, friends and coworkers in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with this painful loss. He will be missed.”

According to the LPD, Kuczynski’s work with kids began when he was a teenager spending his summers working as a park director for the Linden Recreation Summer Park Program.

Kuczynski graduated from Linden High School in 1990, and earned an associate’s degree from Middlesex County College. Kaczynski continued his education at Monmouth University, where he played NCAA Division I baseball until graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice in 1996. He joined the Linden Police Department in January 1997, and graduated in the 76th class of the John H. Stamler Police Academy later that year.

Kuczynski went on to earn a master’s degree in human resources and development from Seton Hall University in 2016.

Kuczynski spent 11 years assigned to the Patrol Division and was commended many times. Most notably, he was among a group of officers named Officer of the Year in 2000 for their actions during the pursuit and arrest of multiple murder suspects. He earned the award again in 2001 after he and other officers arrested multiple armed robbery suspects. Kuczynski was also recognized for his extensive participation in community events.

Kuczynski was assigned to the Linden Police Juvenile Bureau in 2008, and served as director of the Linden Police Athletic League for the next nine years, where he was referred to as “Officer DK” by the kids he served.

League participation more than doubled during his tenure as director, according to the LPD, with Kuczynski significantly expanding the programs offered. He added new leagues and sports, expanded programs to include children of all ages, and sponsored clinics and summer programs.

In 2009, Kuczynski started the Wanda Green “Battle of the Badges” football game, which has grown into a yearly tradition that starts the league’s flag football season. Earlier this year, he expanded the tradition with the inaugural “Battle of the Badges” basketball game.

Kuczynski also started the “Real Talk” series earlier this year, a program that featured community members and mentors who spoke to kids about good decision making and setting their lives on the right path.

Parham told LocalSource in a recent phone interview that Kuczynski was known for his dedication to Linden’s youth.

“A lot of people are talking about his generosity and how he gave of his own time, and that is absolutely true,” Parham said. “He did this on his own time and didn’t tell us about it. He said it was all about consistency, and he wanted to be that consistency in children’s lives. He never wanted to take credit. I remember going to him and saying, ‘no one knows the kids or their parents more than you.’ Being there for the kids — this was from his heart.”

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead expressed his sorrow at Kuczynski’s passing.
“Officer Daniel Kaczynski was a well-known officer in our community and was beloved by parents and children alike,” Armstead told LocalSource in June 15 email. “Our Linden Police Department and the Police Athletic League has lost a valuable asset. I think it is going to be extremely difficult to find a replacement who will have the same kind of love and commitment for community.”

Kuczynski is survived by his father, John; his mother, Eleanor, and his brothers, John and Adam. A funeral service was held at St. John the Apostle Church in Clark on June 19, with burial services at St. Gertrude Cemetery in Colonia.