May 21, 2024 SPRING 2022

Honoring Wilbert Mora ’18, NYPD Detective

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Detective Wilbert Mora ’18 of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was killed in the line of duty, prompting an outpouring of grief from his family, his NYPD colleagues, the John Jay community, and the City of New York. Here, his mom, Amalia Mora, shares some of her memories of her son.

“He was affectionate, kind, and always smiling. He loved food. He loved to eat Dominican food,” says Mrs. Mora. Mangú, fried plantains, cheese, rice and beans–his favorite foods kept him connected to his family and his culture.

Wilbert Mora and mom

Amalia Mora (left) with her son Wilbert Mora (right) at his John Jay graduation


The 6’3″ “gentle giant” would do anything to put a smile on his mother’s face. “Every time he came home from work, no matter what time he arrived, he was happy, smiling, and dancing,” she says. “That was him. He was never sad.”

Detective Mora was the first in his family to graduate from college, a big deal for the Moras. At graduation, “He was easy to spot among his fellow students because he was very big and tall. We were all so excited and proud of him,” says Mrs. Mora.

He dreamed of becoming a police officer as a child. “I told him, ‘Make sure you are doing this because you want to help and love the community, because there are a lot of people out there who need love.’ That’s what he did, and I was so proud of him,” says Mrs. Mora, wiping away a tear.

Wilbert Mora

Detective Mora would often tell his family stories about his day. Once, he shared that a few kids had committed small offenses in the neighborhood. “Wilbert arrested one of them, but when he realized that this young man just needed a second chance, he allowed him to go,” says Mrs. Mora. “The next day, Wilbert saw this young man again and he gave my son a big hug. Every time he saw Wilbert, he greeted him with a salute. That’s who Wilbert was. He gave people second chances and saw their humanity.”


“This is a beautiful profession. The fact that this happened to Wilbert shouldn’t stop anyone from following their dreams.” —Amalia Mora


Mrs. Mora hopes future law enforcement officers carry respect and kindness with them in her son’s honor. “This is a beautiful profession,” she says. “The fact that this happened to Wilbert shouldn’t stop anyone from following their dreams.”

Wilbert Mora

John Jay Sends Thousands of Sympathy Cards to Mora Family
Responding to the need for John Jay community members to reflect on Detective Mora’s life and share their condolences with his family, Declan Walsh and students organized a card signing initiative.

“We had more than 2,400 sympathy cards signed,” says Walsh, Director of Community Outreach at John Jay. “We had several of Detective Mora’s classmates, NYPD Academy friends, and fellow choir members share how sad they were and what a warm spirit he had.”

Wilbert Mora

Scholarships, Concert Honor Detective Mora
Professor Maria “Maki” Haberfeld, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration, established a scholarship to celebrate Detective Mora’s life and service, and additional scholarship opportunities are being developed. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Steve Dercole, Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, at

Wilbert Mora and James O'Neill

Detective Wilbert Mora (left) with former NYPD Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill ’88, ’93 (right)


Detective Mora, a proud member of the John Jay choir, was also honored by a concert dedicated to his memory. “Being in choir is one of those places where community is built. Community was important to Wilbert,” says Gregory Sheppard, Doctoral Lecturer in the Department of Art and Music. “His desire to join the NYPD wasn’t about power. It was about trying to really help people and I know he did.”

Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay, adds, “Detective Mora represented the best of what John Jay has to offer. He provided a worthy example of leadership, bravery, and commitment to public service. In his honor, let us continue to support members of law enforcement as they strive to keep our communities safe.”



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