LEROY PALMER served for many years on the Camden Police Department, putting his life on the line for the betterment of the people of the city. Due to retire in the summer of 1999, his career in law enforcement unfortunately came to an end when on February 13, 1998 he was one of three law enforcement officers shot and wounded at the corner of Bank and Boyd Street in East Camden. Lieutenant Palmer was coordinating a sting operations, where those who come to Camden to buy illegal drugs are caught and prosecuted. Unfortunately, one of those whose actions caused himself to be arrested decided to pull out a gun and fire on the arresting officers. State Trooper Joseph Badecki was shot in the arm. Lieutenant Palmer was shot in the side, puncturing a lung and stopped near his spine. Another bullet grazed the head of Camden County Detective David Lick police. The shooter was in turn killed by those whose lives he attempted to take.  

Lieutenant Palmer was left permanently paralyzed. Retired Camden police detectiove Dennis Gormley wrote shortly after the incident:

Lt. Leroy Palmer was shot and paralyzed from the waist down and is now confined to a wheelchair. 

The incident took place during a drug sting operation and the shooter was SHOT AND KILLED.

As always, the family of the shooter informed the local newspaper that he wasn't an angel but they can't believe he would be involved in something like this. At least they didn't say he was trying to get his life together.

You know the old story----"Oh, he was really trying to straighten his life out and wanted to go back to school and become a computer programmer."

The shooter in this case was just what you think he was. A COP KILLER WHO DIDN'T QUITE MAKE IT.

LEE just attended the annual Special Olympics Golf Tournament held at Centerton Golf Club August 17th.

LEE has been involved in Special Olympics for a few years now. He, along with a couple of other guys, do the cooking at the Olympics.

He also is involved in the POLAR BEAR event in Atlantic City. That is where a bunch of people jump into the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the winter for charitable support of the Olympics. LEE said it will be no problem this year as long as he only has to go in to his waist.

LEE can't wait to get on the course next year and pound the golf ball around not only for his own rehab but to help those who are in need. If a guy who is paralyzed can think of kids and adults in need then I think the rest of us can do something to support this great cause.

Leroy Palmer still lives in South Jersey and though wheelchair bound, is active in community affairs.

1977 amden Police Department Second Platoon Softball Team
Cam/Glo County Police & Fire League
Photo Courtesy of Billy Berks and Larry Worell
Click on the image for to enlarge

Front row L-R: Thomas DiPatri, John Cox , Bill Berman, Billy Berks, B. Ferrell, John Sabella
Middle Row L-R:
Nelson Randolph, Shay Vandeventer, D. DiDomenico, F. Martelli, Rich Chandler, Don Reese, Frank Simons: 
Rear Row:
Leroy Palmer, Smokey Collins, Len Covaleski, Mike Schlictig. 

"6 of our guys out of the 7 in middle row are no longer with us. (Only Rich Chandler left)" -  Billy Berks January 2017

New York Times * March 1, 1998

JERSEY; Where Disney World Meets Camden


EVERYBODY does it, Elaine Bey had insisted. Stealing from the schools of Camden, a city whose children are the poorest in the country, was no big deal, she seemed to believe.

This attitude became breathtakingly clear one day last September, when Mrs. Bey, 55, strolled out of a Federal courtroom in Newark after pleading guilty to misusing school system money to treat herself and others to restaurants, liquor, entertainment, car rentals and personal vacations while she was president of the Camden School Board.

Outside the courtroom, a reporter asked what she was going to do now.

''I'm going to the ladies' room,'' she declared brightly, smiling into the cameras. ''And then I'm going to Disney World!''

Now Mrs. Bey will have to wait a while to take that vacation, as she is due to report to prison on March 30 to begin a five-month sentence that was imposed on her in January by a Federal judge. The judge also ordered her to pay back more than $23,000 in school system funds, and serve five months of house arrest after she gets out of jail.

If there were a criminal indictment of America's miserably failed urban policies, the city of Camden -- which stubbornly posted a 63 percent increase in homicides last year as the murder rate plunged almost everywhere else -- would be entered in evidence at the trial and labeled ''the smoking gun.'' Ordinarily, the amazing audacity exhibited by a school board president who steals and laughs it off could be shrugged off as just another of the incremental outrages in Camden, a city of about 80,000 that has been systematically pillaged by one political regime after another for the past 50 years and now stands out as perhaps the most wretched, God-forsaken city in America.

In this case, however, that brazen taunt -- ''I'm going to Disney World!'' -- was still very fresh in mind recently when I got a phone call telling me that Leroy Palmer -- a Camden police lieutenant who grew up in the city, attended its public schools and whose career ambition was to be a good cop -- had been shot and critically wounded while coming to another officer's aid during an undercover drug stakeout that went very bad, very fast, on the night of February 13.

All of a sudden, a few tiny disconnected wires in the tangled skein of abstract news touched and sparked with a personal jolt. Lieutenant Palmer's younger brother, Ralph, is married to my kid sister, Susan.

A Camden police officer for 23 years, Lieutenant Palmer, 46, went down in a gun battle at an East Camden intersection. The corner at Bank and Boyd Streets is a notorious drug market where dealers do a brisk business selling to customers who drive in from the suburbs to do the only shopping that still brings out-of-towners into Camden.

Lieutenant Palmer was coordinating the stakeout from an unmarked car just up the block. Dozens of arrests had already been made, and now the undercover officers were almost at the end of their tour.

Just before 11 P.M., though, a 38-year-old Williamstown man, informed that he was under arrest for buying crack cocaine from two undercover officers on the corner, pulled out a revolver and started firing. Joseph Badecki, 35, a state trooper, was the first one shot, in the arm. Tumbling out of the car, Lieutenant Palmer ran to the scene and was struck by a bullet that went through his side, pierced a lung and lodged near his spine. David Lick, 28, a detective with the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, was grazed on the head by another bullet.

The suspect, Byran Girard, was killed as the officers returned fire. The other two officers were treated and released at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center. As of the other day, however, Lieutenant Palmer was still in critical condition at Cooper, breathing with the aid of a respirator -- and forcing himself to contemplate the horrible possibility that he may never walk again.

Lieutenant Palmer is known, personally and professionally, as an easygoing, decent man with a ready laugh. His wife, Terry, and his two children, Matt, 15, and Kristin, 12, are the center of his life. He was due for retirement in 16 months. After that, he and his wife had planned to move with their children to North Carolina.

''He's a fighter,'' said Ralph Palmer, 40, who grew up believing that his older brother could do anything, and who now believes that he will manage to get back on his feet before long. ''If anybody can do it, he can,'' he said.

Incidentally, Leroy Palmer loved to take his family to vacations in Florida, including Disney World.

The fervent hope here, as a cop who went down a hero on a thankless job tries to put a life back together, is that Leroy Palmer takes his family on that trip once again -- and that they get there first.