Faith gives local police officer strength in life-and-death situations
Editor’s Note: In advance of the Diocese’s annual Blue Mass, set for April 17, The Monitor is featuring some who live their faith and serve in the law enforcement community in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
For more than a decade, Patrick Brady was a man families prayed they would never see standing at the front door.
Brady, a lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police, spent more than 10 years in the Fatal Accident Investigation Unit and was often tasked with informing families when their loved one had died in an auto accident. He still remembers his first notification, the family of a young man who had skidded off the Garden State Parkway and hit a tree.
“I had never performed a next of kin notification before, “Brady said. “We responded to the victim’s residence, one he shared with his parents, grandmother and sister. Never before have I witnessed such raw and unabridged anguish. The news shattered that family, it broke them, and the memory remains seared in my brain.”
The 17-year veteran of law enforcement, who now serves as the Troop “C” Traffic Officer at the Hamilton Headquarters, credits his upbringing in a family of practicing Catholics as “one of the building blocks of who I am and a foundation for the values I possess.”
“Both [parents] possessed a strong sense of commitment, and as such, attending Mass and CCD was never [optional],” he said. “My two brothers, one sister and I were held to high standards, expected to do the right thing, and when we were wrong, we were expected to own our mistakes.
“I was raised to be honest, maintain integrity, and work hard,” Brady continued. “These are also the values [upheld by] the Catholic faith, in our acceptance of the word of another and trust that one knows what the other is saying and is honest in telling the truth.”
These values transfer well to his duties on the job, Brady said.
“When I interact with someone, I am honest, firm and forthright,” he said. “This approach oftentimes diffuses tense situations, promotes trust and produces better results.”
Brady and his wife, Keri, have three children – Cole, 12, Kaileigh, 10, and Ella, 8 – and are members of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton. He said he leans heavily on his faith in times of crisis, once again evoking his days with the Fatal Accident Investigation Unit as an example.
“During my tenure [there], I responded to nearly 300 serious or fatal motor vehicle crashes,” Brady said. “I experienced several heartbreaking stories while interviewing victims, witnesses and suspects.
“I have seen individuals and family units altered from the debilitating injuries they live with from their involvement in the crash,” he continued. “Reasons for the crash and closure for the families is elusive. I do my best to listen, express empathy, and help them through the pain. I strive to be thorough and answer any questions as they arise to let the family know that every avenue has been explored during the investigation.”
The lifelong Catholic concluded, “Several of these cases live on in my mind. My family, my faith, the solace of Church help me navigate the seas when they get rough.”