Senior detention officer, officer of 23 years, ‘man of faith’, dead at only 55 years old


DURHAM, NC- His name was Alexander Reginald Pettiway.  He was known as a man of God to his loved ones.  Now they are morning the loss of the 55-year-old senior detention officer with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

Pettiway died Saturday at the Wake Medical Center from “acute hypoxic respiratory failure”… after battling coronavirus, according to his death certificate.

He was born in Kenly and attended North Johnston High School and Fayetteville State University before joining the Durham County Sheriff’s Office in 1996, where he worked as an officer there for 23 years.

Pettiway lived in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We’re told he was a member of Saint Paul AME church and is survived by his sister and brother, one niece, four nephews, an aunt and other family and friends.

Major Cynthia Kornegay sent a letter sent to Durham County Sheriff’s Office staff, saying:

“To say he will be missed does not do justice to what any of us are feeling at this moment. Officer Pettiway was a unique, gentle soul and loved by us all.”

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office released a statement about Pettiway.

“Losing a member of our Sheriff’s Office family is never something you are prepared for,” said Sheriff Clarence Birkhead. “We will come together to support each other and Senior Officer Pettiway’s family as they deal with this great loss.”

Lt. Garry Duplessis was a 27-year veteran of the department.  He died on Tuesday.  On April 15, Deputy Vanessa Mackey from the department also died from COVID-19.
Lt. Garry Duplessis was a 27-year veteran of the department.  He died on Tuesday.  On April 15, Deputy Vanessa Mackey from the department also died from COVID-19.

NEW ORLEANS, LA- We just lost another one.

On Wednesday, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office reported that a second deputy has died from the novel coronavirus.

Lt. Garry Duplessis was a 27-year veteran of the department.  He died on Tuesday.  On April 15, Deputy Vanessa Mackey from the department also died from COVID-19.

Deputy Vanessa Mackey was the first Sheriff’s Office deputy to die from COVID-19.

Mackey, 59, was a Lower 9th Ward native who lived in Marrero and was proud to have two daughters, two sons, and five grandchildren.

The 51-year-old Lieutenant Duplessis was assigned to the central control center.  That’s the division which manages the inmate tiers at the main jail on Perdido Street, the Orleans Justice Center.

Duplessis joined the agency in 1992.  In 2013, he became a sergeant and then in 2018 he was promoted to lieutenant.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and colleagues of these two members of our OPSO family,” Sheriff Marlin Gusman and Jail Director Darnley Hodge said. “They will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by all of us here at OPSO.”

According to the sheriff’s office, 70 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.  So far, 19 have recovered and returned to work.

The jail’s private health contractor, Wellpath, reported that 13 staffers have also tested positive.

The office is working on testing every inmate.  As of Wednesday, of the 815 inmates in custody, 88 have tested positive. Officials say only a handful are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

No inmates at the jail have died from it.  So far only one inmate has been hospitalized, but is apparently showing signs of improvement.

NEW JERSEY – The state of New Jersey recently lost one of their state troopers who served with the department for over 20 years. The New Jersey State Police made the announcement of the loss on their Facebook page on April 29th.

After a year-long battle with cancer, Lt Jason Innella from the NJSP passed away on April 27th, according to the department.

At 48-years-old at the time of his passing, Lt. Innella served with the NJSP for nearly 23 years, having joined the NJSP on October 3rd, 1997.

Having most recently served as the Operations Officer for the Marine Services Bureau, Lt. Innella also spent 15 years within the NJSP’s Special Operations Section as a member of the TEAMS Unit. According to the NJSP, he’d also worked within the Field Operations Section and the Regional Operations & Intelligence Center Section.

This fallen hero is survived by his wife Amy and his two sons, Anthony and Michael.

The past week has taken a toll on the law enforcement community within the state of New Jersey, as we recently reported on two losses that transpired within the state. 

The Bloomingdale Police Department is mourning the loss of one of their officers who passed away in late April.

Friday morning, BPD Police Officer Gary Walker, 53 years old, who was also an Oakland, NJ firefighter, died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Walker had been in a coma for 30 days with sickness from the virus. His wife, Danielle, was keeping an online medical journal informing people of his progressively worse condition, including heart and lung problems.

Officer Walker was a 20-year veteran. He and Danielle have a young daughter, Demi.

Following Walker’s death, Danielle said on Facebook:

“The pain and sorrow that Demi and I feel is indescribable. The world has lost the greatest man we know.”

The New Jersey State PBA said in a Facebook post:

“On behalf of Chief Joseph Borell, It is with extreme regret that I have to announce the passing of PO Gary Walker to the Covid 19 virus a little after 2am this morning. Gary was a 20 year veteran of the Bloomingdale Police Department.

He was an dedicated member of the department and their PBA delegate. Mostly he was a dedicated husband and father to his 12 year old daughter.

Gary fought the impossible fight having been in a coma for over 30 days. His true spirit showed on how he refused to quit ..Please keep Gary, his family and the Bloomingdale Police department in your prayers & thoughts..”

Bloomingdale borough said:

“Officer Walker was a selfless, dedicated police officer that touched the lives of so many, he always flourished by bringing people together.” 

Officer Walker joined the Oakland fire department in 1987 and became Fire Company 2’s assistant chief.

The OFD said on Facebook:

“Gary, you fought one hell of a fight against this horrible virus. To say you will truly be missed is an understatement.”

BPD said in a statement:

“Officer Walker will be truly missed by his BPD family, all those who served within municipal departments around him and our Borough residents he so deeply touched with his extremely unique sense of humor and unwavering dedication to duty. 

For all who have contracted Coronavirus, or those who unselfishly continue to care for those needing care in the hospital or at home, we pray for enduring care and healing.”

LET has a private home for those who support emergency responders and veterans called LET Unity.  We reinvest the proceeds into sharing their untold stories. Click to check it out.

Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

No service or way of honoring Officer Walker has been planned yet, but the department and PBA are adamant that something will be.

Earlier this week, the third New Jersey Corrections Officer died, also to COVID-19 related illness.

Senior Corrections Police Officer Maria Gibbs was 47 years old. Tuesday afternoon, William Sullivan, the president of PBA Local 105, said Officer Gibbs died of “cardiac and kidney issues related to COVID-19.”

Sullivan said:

“She had been doing well for awhile, but then it took a turn for the worse and she was on a ventilator. Her body gave out from all the treatments.”

Gibbs was married with four children. She is a 19-year veteran who worked at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton.

Her husband was also reportedly diagnosed with COVID-19, but has not shown any symptoms. 

Gibbs, according to Sullivan, went to work everyday knowing she could possibly contract the virus. He said:

“She sacrificed herself for her job.”

Sullivan advised that a procession would take place for Officer Gibbs on April 29. 

According to

“A procession will line up in the parking lot of Willingboro High School, 20 South JFK Way, and will drive by the funeral home about 1 p.m., when family services are expected to conclude.” also reported:

“Earlier this month, Corrections Police Officer Nelson Perdomo, 44, of Middlesex County, died in a hospital of complications from COVID-19. Perdomo worked at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway.

Bernard Waddell Sr., 56, who worked corrections at the Hudson County jail, died after contracting the coronavirus, officials said.”

Including Officer Gibbs, 27 jailers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at Central Reception, and 427 workers in state prisons have tested positive.

PBA officers are calling for widespread testing of jailers and inmates alike for the virus at all NJ prisons, whether or not they’re showing symptoms. 

Sullivan said:

“We’re giving it to each other. Officers walk along a 3 or 4-foot wide corridor up and down a tier with 90 inmates in cells with open bars breathing on them and each other.”

Michael Tirado is with the NJ PBA Local 105 as well.

He said:

“We just got to keep pushing for more PPE. We have asked for lesser movements with the inmates and they have listened to us.”

Of Officer Gibbs, Tirado said:

“She was in the hospital for about three weeks to a month. She had some good days and had some bad days and it was tragic when I heard she passed away.”

Tirado has also been diagnosed with COVID-19, but he’s recovering well at home in quarantine. Even so, he’s still fighting for his fellow officers.

“When we hear that Wawa and Costco and other retailers are getting hazard pay or a raise because of this, it’s frustrating. Here we are on the frontlines, dealing with the worst of the worst and our officers are getting nothing but their straight pay.”

In addition to that, they don’t have proper N95 masks in the prisons, which is something the union is working on getting. Hopefully the powers that be will take that notion cited by Tirado  into consideration, when it pertains to hazard pay. 

For the friends and families grieving from the losses that New Jersey’s law enforcement community has suffered recently, we at Law Enforcement Today will keep you in our prayers.


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