Dark clouds wept cold raindrops onto the white-gloved salutes of the thousands of officers and residents who said goodbye to Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, 40, on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Seals lost his life in the line of duty on Dec. 10 at Bay View Cemetery in Jersey City, gunned down by David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, who then drove a mile from the cemetery and killed three civilians in a targeted attack at the JC Kosher Supermarket.
At a funeral procession along Bergen Avenue from McLaughlin Funeral Home to St. Aedan’s Church, officers from across the county stood at attention.
Seals’s brothers and sisters in blue from the Jersey City Police Department marched to the church, black bands over their police badges, under a three-story-tall American flag hanging from Fire Department Engine ladders to honor the fallen officer.
Police departments from neighboring municipalities covered Jersey City Police Department shifts on Tuesday so the officers could attend.
Seals, of North Arlington, is survived by his wife Laura and his five children: Hailey, Adrian, Ethan, Isabel, and Ivanna, his mother Deborah, three sisters, three brothers, and his dog Osa.
Seals was born in Jersey City and graduated from Bayonne High School in 1997.
He began his career in law enforcement in 2001 when he joined the Hudson County Corrections Department before joining the Jersey City Police Department in 2005 after graduating from the Police Academy.
In 2008 on Christmas Eve, Seals and another officer climbed a fire escape, burst through the window of a home, and stopped a sexual assault on a 41-year-old woman.
He later received a citation for heroism.
He was assigned to the Jersey City South District working in the Street Crimes Unit and was promoted to detective in 2017 when he joined the departments Cease Fire Unit.
According to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, he was a leading police officer in removing guns from the street during his 15 years in service to the city.
The following Thursday, two new classes for a total of 34 recruits took their oaths to protect and serve as Jersey City police officers. The loss of a brother in blue gave more weight to the responsibilities they were about to undertake.
Their shining badges were draped with black bands bearing Seals’s badge number 766.
A moment of silence was observed during the ceremony. Police Chief Michal Kelly urged the recruits to strive to be the best, like Detective Seals.
“We have an awful lot of good cops on this job,” Kelly said. “An awful lot of good cops. You want to aspire to be a great cop. You want to aspire to be the best. Not everybody can be the best. Joe Seals was the best. And you may not ever become the best, but if you keep reaching toward those goals of being the best cop that you can be, our department improves every single second.”
He also asked for everyone to keep Officers Ray Sanchez and Mariela Fernandez, who was wounded in the Dec. 10 shootout, in their prayers.
“Yes, there is a narrative throughout the United States of America that the police are not as respected as they should be,” Kelly said. “Listen very clearly to what I’m about to say. I do not feel that way in the city of Jersey City. The citizens of this city love you and respect you. And that love and respect that you give, you will get in return in this city.”
According to Fulop, the administration has hired a total of 621 officers since he took office, bringing the department from 769 officers to 950.
He noted that the department also better reflects the community. The JCPD used to be composed of mostly white officers, and now consists of mostly minorities.