Bayonne renamed a road and dedicated a memorial bench to Detective Joseph Seals of Jersey City who fell at 16th Street Park. The ceremony took place at the corner of 16th Street and the park access road, now named Detective Joseph Seals Way.
Detective Seals, a Jersey City police officer and former Bayonne resident, died in the line of duty in 2019, in the terrorist attack on a Jewish kosher supermarket in Jersey City. He was shot dead in Bayview Cemetery prior to the attack while investigating the U-Haul van the terrorists were driving.
Residents and officials of Bayonne and Jersey City gathered at the site of the carved granite bench near the stairs to the lower level of the park.
As it started to rain lightly, the ceremony began with the handover of colors by the Pipe and Drums of Bayonne, the honor guards of the Bayonne police and firefighters, the honor guard of the police department of Jersey City. A man was heard saying to his child, “They were angels crying.”
A brief biography
Chief of Police Robert Geisler, Master of Ceremonies, gave a brief overview of Seals’ life. A giant American flag was swinging in the background.
“Tonight we are here to celebrate and remember Detective Joseph Seals of the Jersey City Police Department,” Geisler said. “Detective Seals was born in Jersey City, however, his family later moved to Bayonne, where he graduated from Bayonne High School. Seals began his law enforcement career in 2001 with Hudson County Corrections. He served with the Corrections Department until 2005. He then entered and graduated from the Police Academy and joined the Jersey City Police Department. Joseph Seals was a dedicated and heroic policeman. He was known as one of the hardest working and most proactive cops on the job. “
Geisler continued, “Detective Seals received many awards and was involved in the arrest of many criminals. His hard work and dedication to duty helped keep Jersey City residents safe. In 2000, he and his partner smashed an apartment window to attack and arrest a man who was assaulting a woman. In 2010, he arrested a wanted thief in two robberies committed at gunpoint. In 2017, he was promoted to detective and was assigned to the ceasefire unit. This is a team of Jersey officers dedicated to removing guns from the streets of Jersey City. “
“Detective Seals was killed in the line of duty at Bayview Cemetery when he attempted to confront two suspects wanted for a murder which had occurred days earlier here in Bayonne,” Geisler said. “Joseph Seals was more than a heroic public servant. He was also a dedicated family man. We are honored to have members of the Seals family here with us. At the funeral of Detective Seals, one of his children, who I believe was Adrian, said that the Joseph Seals will be remembered forever as an American hero. This statement is just as true today as it was then. Today, the Prefecture of Police of Bayonne and the City of Bayonne are proud to join the Seals family in remembering the heroism and the life of Detective Joseph Seals. Tonight’s events are the direct result of a vision that Mayor Davis was to honor Detective Seals so that his legacy and sacrifice will never be forgotten. “
The ultimate sacrifice
Mayor James Davis spoke about the sacrifices law enforcement officers like Seals make.
“To the Seals family, I wish we never had to do this,” Davis said. “We will be working every day under the protection of our first responders, mainly our police and firefighters. Behind these police officers hides a supportive family. Every day, when they leave their home, their family does not know if they will come back through that door. The policeman himself never thinks about it. It’s a weird feeling, and trust me, I know it.
Davis retired as captain of the Bayonne force.
“We’re going to work every day as a police officer, never thinking about what might happen to us,” Davis said. “When that call comes, we run straight for it. No fear, nothing. You’re just running there to help and fix what’s going on without thinking about your safety. And you are there to protect the people in your community. That’s what Detective Seals was doing. This is what we all do every day. But this support system behind them, their family, their mother, their father, their husband or wife, their children, every day that this officer walks through the door, they are the ones who wonder, “Are they going to come back?” “
Davis continued, “We honor Detective Seals because he made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the community of Jersey City. He gave his life on the line, not knowing what was going on. And he died without knowing what he almost prevented from happening. That is why we are here today. And that’s why we can never forget, forever, Joseph Seals, who grew up on that street up the block. The seals will always be remembered here in the city of Bayonne as one of our sons who gave his life to protect his community.
Two intertwined cities
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Seals shows how Bayonne and Jersey City are intertwined.
“I am here on behalf of the 300,000 people who live in Jersey City to thank the great people of Bayonne for honoring a Jersey City police officer,” Fulop said. “I think Jimmy Davis said it as perfectly as he could, that every day a policeman goes to work, he says goodbye to his loved ones and you never know what this day has in store for you. You could say that about all professions, but for police officers it’s a little different because of the interactions they have on a day-to-day basis.
Fulop continued, “In the case of Detective Seals, he was truly one of our best detectives and one of our best officers. He proactively took it upon himself to do more than what was required. And that ended up being part of the cause that put him in these circumstances. There is no doubt, if you look at the facts of that day, that his actions saved countless people because he changed the course of this plan earlier today. With his proactive nature, his love for the city and his love for the police department that made the difference that day. Bayonne and Jersey City are closely linked. We are neighbors, many of our inhabitants move to Bayonne. People have shared their backgrounds and stories here. We couldn’t be more grateful to have a neighbor like all of you.
Street sign and bench unveiled
Officials including County Commissioner Anthony Romano and Nick Flora of the Jersey City Police Department spoke of Seals’ heroism. The Seals family thanked officials for the recognition of Det. The legacy of the seals.
Authorities then unveiled the Detective Joseph Seals Way sign.
Four Jersey City police officers raised an American flag to reveal the memorial images of Seals engraved on the memorial bench.
A bugle played “Taps,” followed by a moment of silence as a New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit helicopter flew overhead.
After the ceremony, a concert at the amphitheater featured The Beginnings, a group from the Chicago Tribute. A variety of food trucks were on hand.
T-shirts were sold to benefit the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which honors first responders, veterans and their families for the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who died trying to save lives at the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. The Foundation pays mortgages for families of first responders who died in the line of duty, including that of Seals.
For updates on this and more, check out www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be contacted at [email protected]