The coronavirus has become the leading cause of death for police officers despite law enforcement being among the first groups eligible to receive vaccines and other protective measures.
Beginning in early 2020, thousands of law enforcement officers and other first responders throughout the country started contracting COVID-19 during the worldwide pandemic due to the requirements of their job.
At least 14 of those victims were New Jersey law enforcement officers who died as a result of contracting the virus in the line of duty. These are a few of theoir stories.
Bedminster Township Police Sergeant AlTerek Shaundel Patterson died on Sunday, April 12, 2020.
Terek met the love of his life, Brandi Brock, while attending Virginia State University (VSU), where he received his Bachelor’s Degree. Their marriage produced three children—Nylah, Sanaa and Santana.
During his career in Law Enforcement, Terek furthered his education at Fairleigh Dickinson University earning a Master’s Degree in Administrative Science.
A member of Bedminster PBA Local 366, Terek served as Past President, Vice President and later as Treasurer.
Bloomingdale Police Patrolman Gary Louis Walker died on Friday, April 24, 2020.
“Officer Walker was a selfless, dedicated police officer that touched the lives of so many, he always flourished by bringing people together. Most importantly, Officer Walker will be remembered most for his dedication to being a devoted husband, loving father and having a golden heart,” said Bloomingdale Police Chief Joseph Borell. “We ask for the community’s prayers and support for Officer Walker’s family, especially his wife, Danielle. and daughter, Demi.”
Glen Ridge Police Sergeant Charles E. “Rob” Roberts, III, 45, of Glen Ridge, died of COVID-19 in May 2020, and his widow and three children—Shea, 17, Natalie, 14, and Gavin, 12—are urging others to get vaccinated against the virus.
“My husband Rob was a highly respected community police officer and caught COVID-19 on the job,” wrote Alice Roberts, a mother of three. “He collapsed in our house when his heart stopped. The kids and I heard the thud.”
The widow explained that her husband recovered from COVID-19 in the hospital, but his brain was too far damaged from a lack of oxygen. He was taken off life support the day after Mother’s Day.
The police officer’s son marked his 12th birthday by getting vaccinated — and he hopes others do the same.
Roberts fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming a police officer and spent his entire career on the Glen Ridge Police Department, working first as a dispatcher starting in June 2000, and then as a police officer.
Assigned badge 69, he was currently the senior most patrol officer in the department.
Roberts was a DARE/LEAD officer, a Special Olympics torch run participant and a bicycle officer as well as the only active member of the department who was living and raising his family in Glen Ridge.