Captain John Phelan, 58, a veteran of the Paterson Police Department, passed away at St. Joseph’s Medical Center on March 7, according to a statement from the department.
The department is currently mourning the 37-year police veteran, who provided aid in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on the New York World Trade Center.
NJ.com covered the story. According to the Paterson Police Department’s statement, Phalen died from medical complications at the hospital, without any further details about the cause of death.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh honored Phalen as the longest-serving of the 400 officers in the department.
“Captain Phelan followed in his father’s footsteps and became a valued leader in the police department. I’m going to miss the laughs we had together. He was known for his sense of humor. He was also a storyteller,” Sayegh said.
The agency’s statement lauded Phalen as a humble and dedicated leader who “was known for his vast knowledge, and equal desire to share that with everyone throughout the department, regardless of rank.”
Phalen, whose father was a police officer, had always wanted to follow in his footsteps. Police Captain Patrick Murray of the special investigation division grew up with Phalen, and their fathers were also fellow officers.
“This is the only job we ever thought of doing. John touched more people than any of us will ever know and I am proud to call him my friend,” Murray said in the statement.
Phalen began his career in 1984, and was subsequently promoted to sergeant, lieutenant and eventually captain of the patrol division after previously serving on the narcotics division and detective bureau.
Mayor Sayegh said the city is planning something “very special” for his services. Phalen is survived by his wife of 15 years, Paterson Police Deputy Chief Lourdes Phalen.