BOSTON — The fourth person killed in the violence that consumed the Boston Marathon and the days that followed, former Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, was given a gubernatorial go-ahead to join the rolls of the Somerville Police Department posthumously.
“There you go, signed,” said Gov. Deval Patrick Friday, putting his pen to a law that permits Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone to posthumously appoint Collier a member of the department.
Collier’s shooting death occurred hours after the FBI released photos of the suspects in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, though in the hours immediately after his death in Cambridge, the connection to the alleged bombers was unclear.
A former volunteer sergeant with the Somerville Auxiliary Police, Collier was due to join the SPD before his life was cut short.
“Other than the day my dad died, Sean’s death has affected me more than anything else that’s ever happened in my life,” said Deputy Police Chief Mike Cabral, who sponsored Collier during a period when Cabral served as acting chief. He told the News Service, “We’re going to present Sean with a Somerville police badge” either over the summer or in September.
Cabral said, “Sean would speak with me about being a Somerville police officer, on numerous occasions sought advice. He was excited about going through the process and fulfilling his dream of being a Somerville police officer.”
Family of the 27-year-old Wilmington man attended the bill signing and did not speak to media afterwards.
The Somerville delegation, Reps. Denise Provost, Tim Toomey, Carl Sciortino and Sen. Patricia Jehlen attended the signing as did Rep. Jim Miceli, of Wilmington, Tackey Chan, of Quincy, and Paul Brodeur, of Melrose. Curtatone, Police Chief Tom Pasquarello, Aldermen Jack Connolly and Maureen Bastardi, as well as Middlesex DA Marian Ryan and Attorney General Martha Coakley went to the signing, where several spoke and a few officials struggled to maintain their composure.
“I think this is an unprecedented event,” said Jehlen, tears welling. She said, “We are so grateful and honored that you chose our community.”
The move to appoint Collier to the department began soon after his death, and Friday marked a major step toward allowing that to happen.
“It’s a small way for us to say we’re not just going to forget Sean,” said Curtatone. “We’re going to celebrate his service and sacrifice to the community.”