Patrick Gorman, 24, follows in the steps of his late father, Thomas Gorman, who grew up in Bayonne, met his wife in the city, and had children here before moving to Middlesex Borough.
As Gorman begins his career as a police officer, his father is never far from his thoughts, smiling down on him, he believes, as well as helping him in spirit to complete a rigorous academy training regimen.
“I kept a picture of him. I would glance at him sometimes,” Gorman said. “When we were getting pushed and yelled at, I would look at it and say ‘Yeah, this is why.’”
Gorman was only 11 when his father, a member of the PA’s elite Emergency Services Unit in Jersey City, headed to the site of the terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center, where he died.
“It’s the type of thing they respond to,” Gorman said. “They were supposed to be the first ones going to the scene.”
When he was younger, Gorman remembers his father taking him to the Journal Square PATH headquarters and showing him the new Emergency Services truck when it first came in.
But more than that, he remembers his father teaching him about life. He recounted a story about when the two were driving to school in Middlesex one day and he saw his father spring into action to help those in need.
“There was a car accident on the way,” he said. “I remember him pulling the car over, running over to take control of the scene, and taking care of anyone who might have been injured. He could have easily kept on driving.”
His father’s actions that day helped forge Patrick’s interest in law enforecement.
“I always wanted to have that training, and the credentials and authority to do what he did,” Gorman said. “And I’m happy to have the ability to do that now.”
Gorman looked up to his father, and to his grandfather, a Bayonne Fire Department captain.
“I always grew up with him, and then my dad was in law enforcement,” he said “So public service was a natural fit for me. Even when we played cops and robbers, I was always the cop.” After graduating from college in Vermont, he came back to New Jersey, just in time to take the Port Authority exam.
Gorman also remembers his father when he was out of uniform as just “dad,” playing sports with him and staying involved in the athletic interests of him and his sisters.
“I remember him being a family guy,” he said. “His number-one priority was me, my sisters, and my mom. We came first before everything else.”
Born in 1989, Gorman moved out of Bayonne when only two years old. But he was never far from it. With family here for many years after that, there were continual visits for the holidays and other gatherings.
His life came full circle when he moved back to Bayonne in January, in order to be closer to his eventual job as an officer in Jersey City.
Although Gorman is considered a legacy officer, he doesn’t believe he deserves any special attention.
“I think it should be on the department as a whole,” he said. “There are guys who were down at the site on 9/11 that are still on the force. I think they're equally as significant as we are. I’m proud to be alongside those guys. They’re the ones I’m proud of. I'm honored just to serve the department.”
Learning the ropes
After the pomp and circumstance of graduation, Gorman was happy to take the week off of Aug. 25 to 29 and spend time with family and friends on Long Beach Island. Then it was getting mentally prepared to actually start his career as a police officer.
“Now I’m on the force; now it’s learning the job,” he said. “I know they teach you all they can in the academy, but it’s not until you’re really out there that you get the firsthand experience you need to actively police.”
Back in Bayonne
A bachelor, Gorman is happy to learn his craft, hang with his black Labrador retriever Mariner, and wait for good things to happen.
His return to Bayonne brought back his father’s words.
“He told me, ‘Always be appreciative of where you came from and what you learned there,’” Gorman said.