Taunton Officer, Search And Rescue Expert, Dies Of COVID-19

TAUNTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Taunton Police Officer John Borges, one of the state's leading experts of search and rescue techniques, died of COVID-19 on Christmas Eve.

Somerset Police Chief George McNeil, control chief and head of the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLEC) Search and Rescue Unit, said 49-year-old Officer Borges was "the glue that held the team together," and one of the region's preeminent experts on search techniques.

"Officer Borges worked the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, and when there was an active search for missing person, he would regularly stay past his shift and continue to work, on his own time. He didn't even put in for overtime," Chief McNeil said. "I have been a police officer for 34 years, and I learned new things every time I worked with Officer Borges. He was excellent at his job; the job of finding lost people."

SEMLAC is a mutual aid consortium comprised of resources from the police departments from 30 cities and towns in Massachusetts. Officer Borges was one of the founding members of SEMLEC Search and Rescue Unit in 2003, and remained on the team through multiple control chiefs and leadership charges in Southern Massachusetts.

"John was a 20 year veteran who cared deeply about his community. He was a mentor to many of us and an expert in tactical searching," SEMLAC SAR said on Facebook. "He will be missed. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts over this holiday season."

Chief McNeil said Officer Borges possessed a wealth of knowledge on missing persons cases, and he was a search and rescue instructor who trained other first responders in the region, including state officials and first responders around the nation. He was also an expert and instructor in Incident Command Systems.

Chief McNeil recalled a case from 2009 in which a man went missing during a particularly cold night. There was a language barrier with the man's family, as they only spoke Portuguese. Officer Borges was fluent in Portuguese, and was able to bridge the communications gap with the family, an essential task that helped lead rescuers in the right direction. They found the man and reunited him with his family.

"We were involved in many searches together, and when SEMLEC deployed for a search and rescue mission, the people of South Eastern Massachusetts could count on Officer Borges to be there, coordinating the effort to find a loved one," Chief McNeil said. "He made our communities safer."

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, since officers "cannot abide by stay at home advisories, and cannot always be socially distant," nearly 180 police officers have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. this year.

Follow WBZ NewsRadio: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iHeartmedia App

Written by Brit Smith

(Photo: SEMLAC SAR/Facebook)

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content