Relatives, colleagues offer somber salutes to former Monroe County Sheriff's deputy

February 06, 2019 11:28 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Relatives and law enforcement colleagues offered somber salutes for the former trailblazing Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Bradford after Bradford was discovered dead on Wednesday.  

The 81 year old, who suffered from dementia, had been the subject of a widespread search when he was reported missing on Tuesday.


According to police, Bradford went missing Tuesday afternoon from his Cottage Street home and was later found in a ravine nearby.

While police are still waiting on the medical examiner to determine the cause of death, police do not suspect any foul play.

"Real sad that a man of such great humility and kindness had to pass like that," said retired Deputy Sean Noonan who joined the sheriff's office with Bradford in 1963.  

"He had nicknames for all the guys," recalled Noonan. "He nicknamed me 'Big Daddy' and I don't think it was because I was tall."

Noonan joined the department with Bradford when the two of them were young men.

"Joe B," as Noonan called him, quickly established himself as a top-notch, well-connected investigator, Noonan said. 

"I'd call him on the phone if I needed information you know, 'Joe B. It's Big Daddy. I need some help.' And he'd always be there to help you," Noonan added. 

Bradford's role as a pioneer in local law enforcement was a much quieter one.

He was the second African-American deputy hired by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for road patrol and the department's first African-American investigator.

But Noonan insisted he could never recall Joe B's race ever even coming up.

"He just fit in everywhere," Noonan said. "He was just a regular guy. He was a good cop."

Relatives said funeral arrangements for Bradford are still pending as of Wednesday evening.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office released the following statement Wednesday in regards to the death of Bradford: 

"On behalf of the entire Monroe County Sheriff's Office, we offer our condolences to the family of Joseph Bradford, a former Monroe County Sheriff's deputy, " said Monroe County Sheriff Todd K. Baxter.  "Mr. Bradford was a member of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Recruit Class of 1963.  He was one of the first African-American deputies assigned to the Road Patrol.  MCSO would like to extend its gratitude to the Rochester Police Department and New York State Police for their search efforts for Mr. Bradford when he went missing Tuesday afternoon."  


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