KEARNY, NJ – The basement room of Hudson Arts and Science Charter School has been dedicated in honor of a local hero, Melvin Vincent Santiago, a rookie Jersey City Police officer who was killed while responding to an armed robbery.
The newly opened school for Kearny and Jersey City children prepared for the commemoration of the slain officer Thursday morning. The green auditorium walls were lined with yellow stars written with children’s own definition of what makes a hero, nj.com reports.
Hudson charter school dedicates gym to slain Jersey City cop https://t.co/Fng7igUKmk
— LawEnforcementToday (@LawEnforceToday) October 6, 2016
The 23-year-old Santiago was a standout charter school student and athlete with a passion for helping others. West District Police Capt. Michael Kelly told listeners that Santiago is a hero because he taught him that dreams can be fulfilled at every age.
Kelly told a group of students he remembers the first day Santiago joined the department and how it was Santiago’s dream to be a police officer in Jersey City.
Cathy McBride, Santiago’s mother, said her son came from a family of law enforcement officers and joining them “on the job” was all he ever wanted to do.
“I can tell you, it is a privilege for me to just to say the name Melvin Santiago,” Kelly said. “To me, it is my Pledge of Allegiance, it is my National Anthem.”
Santiago was killed July 13, 2014, outside the Walgreens after an armed robber stole a security guard’s gun and opened fire on police officers responding to the scene.
A scholarship established in honor of Santiago will be awarded next year to a student graduating from any Hudson County high school who plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice. And to give their help, students at the school collected money during a dress-down day to donate to the Officer Melvin Vincent Santiago Memorial Law Enforcement Scholarship.
McBride called the dedication “amazing” because children who see his photo each day at the school will learn the story of her son—an officer who played basketball with children in public housing complexes and visited senior citizens to let them know they were safe.
“My fear has always been that Melvin would be forgotten, not by his family but by everyone else,” McBride said. “Clearly that is not going to happen.”
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