SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- The Suffolk County Police Department is mourning the loss of one of their own.
Det. Sgt. James Stapleton, 49, died Saturday of cancer.
"James was a fantastic human being and one of the finest officers and detectives I have had the honor of meeting in my 34-years as a police officer," Fourth Precinct Inspector Michael Romagnoli said. "His loss will be felt not only as a colleague, but as a friend."
During the course of his 26-year career with the Suffolk County Police Department, Stapleton earned 10 command recognitions and three departmental recognitions for his distinguished police work.
Detective Sergeant Keith Serper of the Fourth Squad knew Stapleton for 10 years and described him as a truly selfless individual who would go above and beyond to help someone in need and always treated everyone with respect.
"You would be hard pressed to find one person without a kind word to say about him," Det. Sgt. Serper said. "He touched a lot of lives."
Others said Stapleton, who was a loving father, was always determined to put others first -- even after he became sick.
"Detective Sergeant James Stapleton truly exemplified what it means to be a member of the Suffolk County Police Department through his work ethic, dedication to duty, and character," Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said. "The Suffolk County Police family has suffered a tremendous loss with his passing and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."
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