NJ officers stand in support outside hospital for officer battling COVID-19

Officer Charles “Rob” Roberts was hospitalized after officers resuscitated him in his home earlier this week


Anthony G. Attrino and Ed Murray
NJ Advance Media Group

ESSEX COUNTY, N.J. — Officer Charles “Rob” Roberts is such a fixture in the Essex County community he has patrolled for 20 years, that fellow officers call him “The unofficial mayor of Glen Ridge.”

As Roberts, 45, fought for his life against the coronavirus, residents and police officers from around the state - wearing masks and social distancing - rallied outside his Montclair hospital room Wednesday evening to show their support.

Police and supporters gather to support Glen Ridge Police Officer Charles Roberts, 45, who has COVID-19 and was rushed to Mountainside hospital in Montclair, N.J. (Photo/TNS)
Police and supporters gather to support Glen Ridge Police Officer Charles Roberts, 45, who has COVID-19 and was rushed to Mountainside hospital in Montclair, N.J. (Photo/TNS)

“He isn’t just a police officer to people,” said PBA Local 58 President Joe Uliano, a fellow cop. “Everybody knows him. He’s lived in Glen Ridge the entire time he’s worked here. He truly is Mr. Glen Ridge, he’s the unofficial mayor.”

In addition to police work, Roberts has coached sports, given money to charitable organizations and mentored young people to help them make the right choices in life, Uliano said.

“Rob is someone who would give money to people who didn’t have a ride or enough money to get a taxi to get home,” Uliano said. “That’s the kind of guy he is.”

A married father of three, Roberts was rushed Tuesday to Mountainside Hospital after police say he suffered life-threatening complications from COVID-19. He remained there Thursday morning in a hospital bed.

“He’s fighting, he’s hanging in,” Uliano said. “We were in the parking lot directly across from his window and we are hopeful that he heard our presence out here.”

Some wearing face masks wept as bagpipes were played. Across Glen Ridge, people have been posting signs outside their home wishing the best for the officer and his family.

Among those who came to hospital Tuesday was Col. Patrick J. Callahan, acting superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. His presence and support provided comfort to local law enforcement officers, Uliano said.

Uliano estimates about 30% of the 23-member Glen Ridge Police Department is currently quarantined due to the coronavirus, although it’s unclear to him how many have tested positive for the infection.

“It’s scary for us,” he said. “It’s an invisible virus and you never know who is going to be affected or what the outcome will be.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2020 policeone.com. All rights reserved.