WEST ORANGE, NJ – The definition of a hero is one “who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” West Orange Police Officer Tim Groves was all that and a whole lot more, and the beloved officer, who passed away on Sept. 8, 2013 at the age of 48, was honored by the township on June 14 as the Watchung Heights Police substation located at 92 Washington Street was renamed the Police Officer Timothy Groves Community Center and Police Substation.
Renaming the substation in honor of Groves was a fitting tribute to the lifelong West Orange resident, who grew up near the substation and was passionate about his job as a police officer in his hometown. A fourteen year member of the West Orange Police Department, Groves was a fisherman, hunter, and most notably, mentor to West Orange children as the WOPD youth program coordinator. Each year, Groves organized and participated in the Bicycle Rodeo, Hooked on Fishing (Not Drugs), the Junior Police Academy, and the Special Olympics as well as the Police Unity Tour.
Groves spent years in the Lourdes, Tory Corner and Watchung Heights area as part of the WOPD bicycle patrol where his upbeat personality and community spirit was loved by residents and business owners alike. In his free time, he enjoyed coaching and working with the kids in town and believed in the value of the community substation as an outreach for the neighborhood.
Lt. Michael Keigher and Police Officer Will Jiroux, close friends of Groves, opened and closed the ceremony, with brief comments from members of the Groves family, the West Orange Elks, Chief James Abbott and Mayor Robert Parisi. Captain Ken Miscia of the Montclair Police Department shared about Groves’ involvement with the Special Olympics, and a short torch run was held in his honor following the ceremony, followed by a Special Olympics fund raiser at the West Orange Elks.
WOPD Dispatcher Christopher Babinski, another childhood friend of Groves, spoke on behalf of the PBA and the department in a poignant tribute to his comrade. Babinski also spoke on June 13 at the Relay for Life event at West Orange High School, where “Team Groves,” comprised of fellow officers, helped to raise funds for cancer research. Groves passed away from pancreatic cancer.
“Timmy’s love for the community was bigger than a building,” Babinski said, acknowledging the substation. “He is not gone – he is still in our hearts. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you.”
“What can you say about about a man who loved so much?” Babinski continued, as he shared a bible passage: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
“Timmy Groves was a truly great man, a great friend, and a hell of a cop,” Babinski concluded.