TRENTON  — Supporters raised more than $31,000 for the family of a Mercer County Sheriff's Office detective who took his own life at a county building the day after Christmas.

Detective Pablo Santiago was found dead in a restroom at the McDade Administration Building from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Members of law enforcement were shocked at the sudden death of an officer who was always smiling and was active in the community.

"He was just as happy in uniform as he was out of uniform. I have never seen Pablo without a smile on his face on duty or off duty," said Brian McCarthy, a photojournalist who had known Santiago since he he began his law enforcement career in 1999 at Trenton Animal Control.

"Santiago served with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office with distinction since December of 2004. Prior, he served with the Trenton Police Department," Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler said in a statement about Santiago's death. “This tragedy is a very sad reminder of the pressures that law-enforcement officers experience on a daily basis."

Colleagues told The Trentonian that Santiago showed no signs of problems when he reported for work on Wednesday morning.

"The job gives access to and exposes officers to things that most people just do not have exposure to," Mitchell Sklar, executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, told New Jersey 101.5 in 2017. "Like a soldier, PTSD is real and it can have long-term consequences."

New Jersey's nationally-recognized Cop2Cop helpline —866-267-2267 — which connects troubled officers with retired law enforcement colleagues, has received more than 50,000 calls since 2000.

The top 10 reasons for calls to the helpline in 2016, according to director Cherie Castellano:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Marital issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Financial stress
  • Legal problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Medical complaints
  • Family issues

A viewing for Santiago will be 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday  followed by a funeral, both at St. Raphael’s Church in Hamilton.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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