Glen Ridge, NJ – Law enforcement officers and residents from throughout the state gathered outside a local hospital on Wednesday to show their support for a veteran Glen Ridge police officer who is fighting for his life against COVID-19.
Glen Ridge Police Officer Charles “Rob” Roberts, 45, is such a staple in his community, he is unofficially known as “Mr. Glen Ridge,” the police department said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Officer Roberts tested positive for COVID-19 sometime prior to his heart abruptly stopping on Tuesday morning, according to the Glen Ridge Police Department (GRPD).
“Glen Ridge Officers responded to his aid and began life saving measures along with our Volunteer Ambulance Corps,” the department said. “They were able to successfully transport him to Mountainside Hospital where he is receiving treatment.”
Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 58 President Officer Joe Uliano said that the group of supporters, who were wearing masks and practicing social distancing, gathered out in the parking lot directly across from Officer Roberts’ hospital room window on Wednesday evening, NJ.com reported.
“We are hopeful that he heard our presence out here,” Officer Uliano said. “He’s fighting. He’s hanging in.”
Officer Uliano noted that as far as local residents are concerned, Officer Roberts “isn’t just a police officer,” NJ.com reported.
“Everybody knows him. He’s lived in Glen Ridge the entire time he’s worked here,” he said. “He truly is Mr. Glen Ridge. He’s the unofficial mayor.”
Officer Roberts, a married father of three, has also contributed to charitable groups, coached sports, and mentored the community’s youth.
“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,” Officer Uliano told NJ.com. “That’s the kind of guy he is.”
He has served the GRPD since 2000, according to the Bergen Record.
Approximately one-third of the GRPD’s 23-member department is currently in quarantine due to the novel coronavirus, NJ.com reported.
Officer Uliano said he does not know how many of his fellow officers have tested positive.
“It’s scary for us,” he told NJ.com. “It’s an invisible virus and you never know who is going to be affected or what the outcome will be.”
Officer Roberts remained hospitalized Thursday morning, NJ.com reported.
“Please keep Officer Roberts as well as our other officers in your thoughts and prayers. We appreciate all of our residents for thinking of Rob and his family during this difficult time,” the GRPD said. “Please continue to take this pandemic and the virus very seriously as it continues to affect our community.”
As of Thursday, 95,865 New Jersey residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 5,063 have died, according to Bing’s COVID-19 Tracker.