YAPHANK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The Suffolk County Police Department is in mourning after one of its own passed away after a battle with cancer.

Detective Sergeant James Stapleton died Saturday.

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Stapleton joined the force in 1995 and served initially as a patrol officer. He was steadily promoted through the ranks during his 26-year career. He earned 13 recognitions for his work.

“James was a fantastic human being and one of the finest officers and detectives I have had the honor of meeting in my 34-years as a police officer,” Fourth Precinct Inspector Michael Romagnoli said. “His loss will be felt not only as a colleague, but as a friend.”

“You would be hard pressed to find one person without a kind word to say about him,” Det. Sgt. Keith Serper said. “He touched a lot of lives.”

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Stapleton, a father, was 49. His funeral will be held later this week.

“Jimmy battled an utterly evil disease with admirable courage,” said Robert Viscuso of the Suffolk County Police Superior Officers Association.

“Detective Sergeant James Stapleton truly exemplified what it means to be a member of the Suffolk County Police Department through his work ethic, dedication to duty, and character,” Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said. “The Suffolk County Police family has suffered a tremendous loss with his passing and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

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CBSNewYork Team