Remembering Officer Thomas Patton
For the second time in recent years, Cleveland Heights police donned black ribbons, this time to mourn the loss of fellow officer Thomas Patton.
Just three years ago, officer Jason West died in the line of duty.
On March 13, Patton responded to a call at Marc’s on Coventry Road and assisted other officers in pursuit of a suspect. At Glenmont and Mayfield roads, Patton bent over, rested his hands on his knees for a moment and then continued running. He collapsed and was transported to Huron Hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later. The Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office said Patton died of a cardiac incident.
Patton, 30, had served nine years as a Cleveland Heights police officer. He was the only son of State Senator Tom Patton. He is survived by his fiancée Tricia Sindelar and his four-month-old daughter, Kayleigh Evelyn Patton.
Police work ran in the family. His grandfather, John T. Patton, joined the Cleveland Police Department in 1946. His uncle, Tim Patton, a retired Cleveland police officer, said that when Patton was only five years old, he would talk about becoming a policeman.
The preliminary coroner’s finding shocked those who knew and worked with him. The 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound officer had no history of heart trouble and was a former cross-country star. He was training with a fellow officer for a 10-kilometer race, said his uncle Tim Patton.
Mayor Ed Kelley called officer Patton “the kind of guy you would want as your next door neighbor, your friend, your fellow officer.” Patton, who often worked the night shift, had been planning to buy a home in Cleveland Heights for his fiancée and infant daughter.
Losing a police officer is a tragedy that’s difficult for the community to overcome. Officers are often our neighbors and friends. They take a pledge to protect our families and community. How many of us would put ourselves in harm’s way for a stranger? Yet officers Jason West and Thomas Patton did it on a daily basis. It is important for residents to express their condolences to every police officer they see. It is even more important to tell them “thank you” for being there when we need them.
Lita Gonzalez is a community volunteer.