New Jersey’s law enforcement leaders gathered at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton to unveil the state’s first permanent memorial honoring police officers and other law enforcement professionals who died during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The memorial honors the 28 law enforcement personnel who passed away from COVID-related complications, including nine employees of the Newark Police Department and nine state and county correctional officers.
The memorial includes a tribute to Christopher Cronin of the Old Bridge Police Department, who passed away on Dec. 2, 2020. He was 47.
Officer Vincent Galgano, president of Old Bridge PBA 127, said Cronin served the department for more than two decades. Cronin’s brother Michael is a detective with the department and his father, Dennis, is a retired police captain in Old Bridge.
The memorial will remain in the ground floor atrium of the Hughes Justice Complex, which houses the Attorney General’s Office, the State Public Defender’s Office, and the New Jersey Supreme Court.
“Members of law enforcement selflessly put their lives on the line every day to protect New Jerseyans,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during the unveiling on Oct. 13, according to a statement released by the Attorney General’s Office. “The loss of these 28 individuals to COVID-19 is a tragedy, and we will always remember their service to our state and our communities. This memorial is a fitting and solemn honor for these brave and courageous men and women.”
“Today and every day, we honor the law enforcement professionals who gave their lives protecting New Jersey residents during this unprecedented crisis,” Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck, who presided over the event, said in the statement. “We will never forget their service to our state, and this memorial will ensure that future generations do not either.”
New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick J. Callahan and Division of Criminal Justice Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell read the names of those honored by the memorial, and were joined at the event by family members of fallen officers.
“When this pandemic started, New Jersey’s law enforcement, as with all first responders, did not have the option to work from home. Every day they went to their assignments knowing full well that a new and deadly reality was upon us,” Callahan said in the statement. “Those brave men and women who have sworn an oath to public service, never hesitated and answered that call because there were people who needed their help and they knew they could make a difference. Today is a day of recognition as we commemorate their ultimate sacrifice and commitment to duty, for which we will be forever grateful.”
A slideshow with the pictures of the fallen officers played during the memorial is available at https://youtu.be/VOyN7QQkIEs