TAUNTON (CBS) – It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words. Those who knew Taunton Police Officer John Borges, recall one image they say describes him perfectly. The department posted the picture to its Facebook page on December 26, two days after Borges lost with battle with COVID-19. Borges was 48-years-old.
In it, Borges is hard to miss. He is seen front and center comforting a neighbor. Behind the pair, piles of brick cover the street – a fire had caused the building to partially collapse. Amid the chaos, Borges was the calm. The one who thought of everything and everyone.
“He was such a good planner. The only thing that came to mind is that God needed a good planner. That’s why he called on John,” said Lt. Eric Nichols as he fought back tears.
Nichols had known Borges for decades. They both attended the same high school and worked together. On Monday, Nichols was among the dozens of officers who turned out to Borges’ funeral to pay their respects.
“Nobody loved the job more than John. He never took credit for it he was the behind the scenes guy. He was the guy that at two in the morning brought the homeless guy a meal. But never told anyone because he didn’t want the credit, that’s the way he was,” Nichols said.
Born in Portugal, Borges and his family immigrated to the United States when he was eighteen months old. In his obituary, he’s described as having a deep love for the United States – and that led him to start working for the Taunton Police Department soon after graduating high school.
The 20-year veteran was a leader in the search and rescue unit, active with MEMA and the Civil Air Patrol. Chief Edward J. Walsh says since the onset of the outbreak, his department has been hit hard by the virus.
“Initially around 20 to 25 percent of the department ended up with COVID or were in quarantine because of COVID,” said Chief Walsh. “We’ve recently had more issues. We had quite a few people get COVID around the same time. His [Borges’] case took a turn for the worst suddenly.”
Now, a community mourns the loss of its beloved patrolman. Borges is survived by his parents and his sister. And is remembered as the ‘gentle giant’ who dedicated his life to a city he loved. And they loved him back.
“For John, being a police officer was not a job, it was a calling,” said Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell. “He was deeply committed to his fellow officers, to our community, and to really improving the quality of life for everyone he met.”