‘Gave his family the best’
For Michael Patterson, his brotherhood with AlTerek Patterson – Terek, for short – felt thicker than blood.
Michael will forever remember his brother Terek as the humble leader in their family. A 10-year age difference between the two – Terek being the oldest of four children – meant that he acted in loving authority for all of Michael’s life.
“We always looked up to him as a sort of father figure,” Michael recalled. “My parents relied on him for a great deal of a responsibility when they were at work to look after his younger siblings. So it was a general family consensus that if you want to know what dad was going to say about certain topic, (you) ask Terek first.”
Terek was born in Plainfield and graduated from Piscataway High School in 1999. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University, he joined the Bedminster Township Police Department in 2005. Having served as Bedminster Township Local 366 president, vice president and treasurer, the humble sergeant received three Bedminster Lifesaving Medals. He married his college sweetheart Brandi Patterson in 2016 and had three beautiful children, Nylah, Sanaa and Santana.
Terek also obtained his master’s degree in administrative science from Fairleigh Dickinson University while on the job – and Michael mentioned his brother not only set high goals, he crushed them.
“He would say the things that he wanted out of life, and then he would make a plan and go get them,” Michael commented. “And he was knocking his goals down one by one, ever since high school. I think that’s a pretty admirable trait, to be able to identify something you want and be determined enough to go get it.”
Michael – a fellow law enforcement officer with New Jersey State Police – knew he had a role model in his older sibling, especially the two of them being brothers in blue.
“I felt like it made us closer than actual blood, you know,” he noted. “Blood is one thing, and then for me to follow those footsteps into that profession and him being able to coach me along the way was definitely something even more special.”
Members of the department and community undoubtedly recognized Terek’s adoration toward his law enforcement career and unwavering devotion to public service.
“He was a community staple,” shared Bedminster Police Chief Karl Rock. “Just look in his 14-year career how many different people he touched. That’s the way to pay it forward: Take his principles and the way he went about life, and carry that torch.”
And Terek worked tirelessly to provide for his family. His first tattoo read “Mama’s Boy,” a title he honored with daily phone calls to his mother. When Terek unexpectedly passed away from COVID-19 on April 12, at age 38, his family was there, walking laps around the hospital.
“He always gave his family the best,” Michael shared. “It’s only until now where I’m looking like, ‘Okay, we want to stand in that gap and purchase things for the kids and his wife,’ that I’m seeing he would get them top-of-the-line type gifts. He would count the overtime rate and multiply that by the hours that he worked. That’s just a small example of the type of guy he was.”
The steadfast sergeant leaves behind an incredible legacy in his family, and his brother will do everything he can to step in, whether that means calling his mother every day or frequently checking in on his sister-in-law. He wants to be there, because he knows that’s exactly what Terek would do.
“I’m looking around at all the people still here and realizing that they were his purpose,” Michael conveyed. “No one can take his place, but all of us as a family are coming together to try and show his wife and kids the love that he would have given. He’s our motivation and purpose.”