‘Mr. Glen Ridge’ is NJ’s 11th police officer to die from COVID-19
GLEN RIDGE — Officer Charles “Rob” Roberts, whose community rallied around him with purple ribbons and posters after he fell ill from COVID-19, is the 11th police officer in New Jersey to die from the novel coronavirus, according to Chief Sheila Byron-Lagattuta.
Byron-Lagattuta said Roberts, 45, who was nicknamed "Mr. Glen Ridge," was diagnosed in April and died on May 11 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He was initially treated at Mountainside Hospital for three weeks. Several other members of the department also tested positive for COVID-19, according to the chief.
A friend of Roberts' wife told NBC 4 New York Roberts initially tested negative for the virus but tested positive in a second test. The chief said in an earlier post on the department's Facebook page Roberts' heart stopped in April but was revived by EMTs and hospitalized.
A Facebook post by the police department showed community support for Roberts, with purple ribbons tied to trees and posters of support on homes around town.
"Officer Roberts was the face of the Glen Ridge Police Department and a shining example of an officer dedicated to serving the community," the chief said, and said his death "extinguished the presence of a pillar and staple within the law enforcement community and the Borough of Glen Ridge."
He was also the department's first line of duty death since it was created in 1895, the chief said.
Roberts was originally from Livingston and joined the force in 2000. He moved to Glen Ridge with his wife, Alice, and raised three children, according to Byron-Lagattuta. Alice is an elementary school teacher in Glen Ridge.
The chief said that members of the community knew Roberts from his work as a DARE/LEAD instructor, bicycle officer and a certified car seat installer. He was the most senior officer within the patrol division and served as a detective and a field training officer, Byron-Lagattuta said.
Roberts also participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics and the Tunnels to Towers Run.
A GoFundMe page created by the Glen RIdge High School Class of 1993 received $81,000 in donations in just 13 hours.