HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Hearts were heavy and tears were shed this morning, during a special memorial service for K-9 Officer Jada of the Hackettstown Police Department.
Local law enforcement and first responding agencies from Hackettstown and surrounding areas began the ceremony by driving in a large procession from Newton Veterinary Hospital to the Hackettstown Police Department on West Stiger Street. Hundreds of community members paid tribute to Jada all along the procession route, and many said their goodbyes at the service.
“To see the amount of support that she had today to send her off was beyond amazing. It was overwhelming,” said K-9 Jada’s handler, Officer Christopher Laver. “Especially when we pulled into town and I saw hundreds of people and all of the lights. It’s reassuring and makes you realize all of your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Laver also reflected on the bond he had with his beloved partner. “Jada’s helped me get through a lot over the years. We spent a lot of hours together working midnights, and Jada always came to work and she never complained.”
Jada’s constant love and affection is something Laver said he will miss forever. “She always wanted to hug and kiss me, even while we were working. She was so passionate and she really was the best…not only with me, but to the community as well.”
The 5-year-old Belgian Malinois joined the department on July 14th, 2016 and passed away suddenly while on-duty with Officer Laver by her side on Wednesday, August 19th.
Jada assisted in detecting narcotics, missing persons, lost items and weapons. She also frequently visited school and community events to perform demonstrations. “People would come out just to see her. It’s just so sad that she’s gone,” said Hackettstown Police Sergeant Darren Tynan. “One memory I have is that she would always come up to me and give me a hug and kiss. I’m going to miss that. But having this service here today brought some closure because I know that where she is now is a better place. I’m sure she’s looking down on us.”
In November 2019, the Hackettstown Police Department won its first ever K-9 grant from Aftermath Services. Officer Laver and K-9 Jada garnered the fourth-most votes of any law enforcement agency in the country and won a $2,000 grant.
Towards the end of the ceremony, a representative from U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s office presented Laver and his family with an American flag that flew at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. in Jada’s honor.
Laver also said although he is in the midst of his grieving process, he did not rule out the possibility of another K-9 on the police force in the future. “My passion and my heart will always be in K-9.”
A permanent memorial for Officer Jada will soon be constructed at the Hackettstown police station in her honor.