On March 8, after 24 years with the department, Castillo died. He left behind an enduring impression on a community he helped to shape.
From the ballpark to the precinct Castillo was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico on Oct. 24, 1944. At the age of 6, he moved with his family of nine to Hoboken, where he graduated from Demarest High School.
Throughout his childhood, Castillo was known across the city for his athletic ability, particularly in baseball.
While in high school, Castillo was offered a contract to play for the New York Mets.
Castillo's father Carlos, however, rejected the Mets' best offer, feeling that it wasn't enough payment for his son. Carlos' desired salary was never met.
As a result, Castillo's childhood dreams of becoming a baseball player were replaced with his other aspiration - to become a police officer.
"It's what he always wanted. He always wanted to serve the community. Since he was a boy he wanted to become a police officer," said Elsie, Castillo's sister. "He wanted to show Hispanics that they can do it too."
Turbulent times At the time Castillo became a police officer, Hoboken was undergoing a transitional period, during which the demographics of the city were becoming increasingly Latino.
Tom Olivieri, the city's former Hispanic and Minority Affairs officer, estimated the city's percentage of Puerto Rican residents was approximately 30 percent in the late 1960s.
As the neighborhood changed, ethnic tensions arose and then climaxed into full-blown riots in 1970 and 1971.
Then-Hoboken Mayor Louis DePascale and Chief of Police George Crimmins, realizing the need for a strong police presence that could appeal to all ethnicities, created a community policing program in which Castillo was a central figure.
Captain Edward Garcia, a 33-year veteran of the force, recalled how integral Castillo was to the program. "He knew the streets and he knew the people on them," said Garcia. "He broke me in, taught me the job. He was a good cop."
Another police officer that worked with Castillo was Mario Rivera, who has since retired and relocated to Florida.
Rivera said of Castillo, "He was a hell of a guy, a true leader. All he wanted to do was help out the community any way he could."
In 1974, Castillo suffered spinal injuries resulting from a car accident while on duty.
For 13 years, Castillo remained on disability until he was able to return to work, where he was placed on administrative duty until he retired in 1992.
His impact Hoboken's current Police Department consists of 160 members, 29 of which are of Hispanic descent.
One of these officers shares a personal bond with the late community leader.
In 1970, while transporting a pregnant woman to St. Mary's Hospital, Castillo was forced to deliver the baby after the woman's water broke in the back of his police cruiser. Hoboken Police Officer Juan Madera was that baby boy.
The two police officers later became brothers-in-law after Castillo married Anna Madera, Juan Madera's sister, 18 years later.
"He was a great person who always wanted to help people, especially juveniles," said Juan Madera. "He always looked out for kids."
Madera said his decision to become a police officer was greatly due to Castillo's influence.
An apt description of Castillo was provided by Olivieri, his friend of 52 years. In a letter to the editor of The Hudson Reporter, Olivieri described Castillo as: "A quiet, unassuming man who performed his duties as a police officer in the same dignified manner he carried himself through life. He served honorably and proudly. Long may he be remembered."
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com