By Stefanie Sears
Morris Township police officer Sergeant Sean O’Hare of Roxbury was recently making headlines this summer when he revived a drowning 2-year-old boy while vacationing in Florida.
It was October 13 and O’Hare was visiting family. While relaxing by the pool at the local hotel, he heard a commotion. He ran over to the scene and discovered an unconscious child being lifted from the pool. O’Hare and another hotel guest performed CPR and the boy’s condition began to improve when the police department arrived. After he was taken to the hospital, he recovered with no issues.
“They always say that you go back to your training,” explains O’Hare of his thought process whenever situations like that arise. “You immediately see that there is something going on and you just don’t hesitate. When someone needs help and you need to take action, you just do it. Then you just rely on your experiences and do what you’re trained to do.”
O’Hare always had an interest in law enforcement. He first joined the Roxbury Police Explorer Program led by Lt. Joseph Franklin in 1992. In 1994, he was hired as a Dispatcher in Roxbury. During this time he graduated from high school and attended the County College of Morris where he received a degree in law enforcement. From there he attended the Morris County Police Academy. Finally, Morris Township hired him in 1997 and he is now in his 21st year in the field. He works as a patrol sergeant assigned to the Patrol Division. He is the patrol supervisor and shift commander of a squad of six officers and reports directly to his Lieutenant. Other duties consist of answering calls for service and preparing operations for the Tour of Duty.
O’Hare credits his parents for their constant support, but also attributes a lot of his confidence to Franklin, who passed away from a bicycle accident in May 2016.
“He gave us a lot of direction and a lot of guidance,” says O’Hare. “He helped many of us become police offers. Basically he helped us fulfill our dreams. We set out at a young age and really wanted to be in law enforcement and that helped drastically. Now probably more than 25 of us have gone on to become police officers. He was very well known around the area. He ran the Roxbury Police Explorer Program for probably at least 15 years.”
O’Hare has faced tragedies, criminals, shootings, stabbings, suicides, fatal motor vehicle crashes, fires, pursuits, 9/11, and both Hurricane Irene and Sandy, and provides insight on how he keeps his spirits up.
“It’s a matter of not dwelling on it too much,” he says. “You finish one thing and then you’re off to the next thing. Do things you enjoy. A lot of times we use humor and bust each other’s chops. For the most part everyone gets through it. We’re lucky though that in this area we’re not bombarded with a lot of the real, real bad stuff on a regular basis. Again, it does happen and can happen at any time.”
As dire a job his could potentially be, O’Hare never questions his position.
“Being a police officer is what I was meant to do,” he says. “I enjoy the job. I love it. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. A lot of times you are surrounded by a lot of bad, but there are times you are surrounded by good. But unfortunately, when you are a police officer, you encounter people at their very worst. In my career, I have seen a lot.”
For those considering embarking on the police field, O’Hare imparts the following advice: “Make sure before you start spending money on college, it is what you want to do. A lot of times people think they want to do it, and they don’t. A lot of times people are involved in other professions and then decide that something is calling them towards law enforcement, so they decide to switch their majors and so forth. But, try to get involved in any type of special police officer, any type of auxiliary police. A few towns have those. That’s always a good angle, a good way to start. And I also always recommend that people, if you’re into that, maybe if you try to get a job at the Dispatcher with the police department or county communications. That gives you good insight into what really goes on. All that time will go towards your retirement. It’s all credible time in your pension.”