Suffolk police mourn loss of 1st active duty member to die due to COVID-19

Suffolk police say Lt. Robert Van Zeyl died due to the virus Wednesday. They say he tested positive for COVID-19 Jan. 3 and was hospitalized a week later. He was 60 years old.

News 12 Staff

Jan 21, 2021, 12:37 AM

Updated 1,188 days ago

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The Suffolk County Police Department is mourning the loss of its first active duty member to die due to COVID-19.
Suffolk police say Lt. Robert Van Zeyl died due to the virus Wednesday. They say he tested positive for COVID-19 Jan. 3 and was hospitalized a week later. He was 60 years old.
"It is truly heartbreaking to lose a member of our department, doubly so personally given the fact that I have known Bob for my entire career," Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said. "36 years ago, we were sworn in together and became Suffolk County police officers ... Bob's passing exemplifies the multifaceted dangers that members of our department face every day to keep the residents of our county safe."
According to a news release, Van Zeyl joined the department in 1985, joined the 5th Precinct upon academy graduation and served as a lieutenant since 2003. Officials say he was the commanding officer of the Applicant Investigation Section and the Administrative Services Bureau before transferring to the 2nd Precinct in 2015.
Police officials say Van Zeyl garnered dozens of recognitions for his work and was awarded Cop of the Month twice.
"Lt. Van Zeyl served Suffolk County residents with distinction for nearly 36 years and his legacy will continue with the members of this department," said Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. "We extend our deepest sympathies to his family."
"The Suffolk County Police Department has not only lost a great police officer, but we've lost a great boss, and more importantly, a great friend," said Sgt. Jack Smithers. "He will be sorely missed by all."


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