'Much more than just a police officer': Close friend remembers Officer Peter Jerving

NOW: ’Much more than just a police officer’: Close friend remembers Officer Peter Jerving


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As the city mourns the death of Officer Peter Jerving, those close to him are remembering the man behind the badge as someone who was full of joy, loving and who cared about his job deeply.

Officer James Nowak was Officer Peter Jerving's partner for the four years Jerving served on the Milwaukee Police Department.

Julia Nowak, James' wife, spoke to CBS 58 about their relationship to Jerving.

"He became kind of like a family to us," Nowak said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Officer Jerving's girlfriend Megan went to District 4 headquarters Wednesday morning to lay flowers at the growing memorial and to feel closer to him. Julia Nowak joined her. Julia said, "A woman was walking down the block, and she walked up to us and she pulled both of us in right close to her and started praying."

She said it felt great to be close to someone -- even a perfect stranger -- just a day after losing her friend. "His car is still there in the parking lot, so we spent some time… we spent some time by his car."

Nowak described the relationship between James and Peter as that of brothers, 'work husbands' who signed up for extra shifts together whenever they could.

"[James and Peter] loved each other's company and they just had a good time just doing it," Julia said. "It was more than work; it was enjoyable for them to just be together."

Jerving did handiwork at the Nowak's home and had his own bedroom for when he stayed over.

Their friendship spread to their spouses. The Nowaks and Jerving and Megan would spend time together on weekends, at parties and on holidays. Jeving also attended the Nowaks' wedding.

Julia said, "They supported each other, the other officers, the community, they just loved being cops. I'd ask him all the time, 'Can you just switch districts, somewhere slower or less pace?' 'Nope, we love that side of town, we love it at nighttime, we love all the action.'"

Outside of work, James and Peter would spend time playing volleyball, bowling and golfing.

The two were not working together the morning of the incident, instead training new officers.

"[I] heard the news saying that an officer had been shot and I always listen to see if it's my husband's district," Nowak recalls.

She tried going back to sleep but said a gut feeling compelled her to check her phone where she saw messages of support from friends.

"Immediately just my heart sank," Nowak said.

Julia got into contact with her husband, who told her the tragic news. She added that Officer Nowak rushed to the scene as soon as he heard of the shots fired call.

Both James and Julia are devastated and heartbroken.

Now, the community Nowak and Jerving swore to protect and serve is embracing the Nowaks and Jervings with support.

"The amount of people who have called, texted, sent messages over all types of social media, people I don't even know, I've never met, is tremendous," Julia said.

Nowak told CBS 58 how she wants people to remember Officer Jerving.

"He was a really funny guy, his goofy laugh could fill a whole room," Julia said. "He was much more than just a police officer, he was a friend, he was like family, he was like a brother, and I just want them to remember him as all those wonderful things that he was."

She added, "He was so much more than just a police officer. He was loved by so many people. He had so many friends. You knew him, you loved him. You didn't know him, you still loved him."

A vigil will be held for Officer Jerving Friday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at Silver Spring Church of God, located at Silver Spring and 74th.

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