It’s been a difficult day for police officers in Mobile after losing one of their own to a single-vehicle accident in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Chief Lawrence Battiste confirmed earlier that Sgt. Jeremy Franks — a 19-year veteran of the Mobile Police Department — lost his life in an accident on Tanner Williams Road sometime around 1 a.m., Oct. 19. He was not on duty at the time.

“[Sgt. Franks] always served with dignity and pride, and he represented his city and this department extremely well,” Battiste said. “He really helped this department grow and move in a positive direction particularly with some of our technology and cyber initiatives. He made sure his unit understood that we are in a new era of policing.”

Earlier today, the MPD Cyber Unit’s Facebook page posted a photograph of an MPD badge with a black mourning band typically used to remember fallen officers. Battiste and others at MPD headquarters were wearing mourning bands on Thursday as well.

Though Battiste did not give any details about the accident that took Frank’s life, he said the cause was still being investigated. Franks, age 41, was engaged to be married and is survived by at least one son, according to MPD.

Describing him as “always positive” and “upbeat,” Battiste said Franks would be missed at MPD.

Sgt. Jeremy Franks, a 19-year veteran of the Mobile Police Department, died in an automobile accident Oct. 19. (MPD)

“You hear about a cheerful countenance… he had a cheerful countenance. He brought joy to everybody that he came into contact with throughout the department, including the men and women he led,” Battiste said. “They had a lot of respect for him. They would have followed him through any door because they knew they could depend on him.”

Franks is the first active employee MPD has lost since officers Kenneth Ely and Phillip Lang died in 2013, though neither was on duty at the time of their deaths. Officer Steven Green was the last officer killed on duty when he was stabbed transporting a robbery suspect in 2012.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Steven Green as the last officer to pass away while serving as an active MPD employee. Kenneth Ely and Phillip Lang’s deaths were added in an update Oct. 23.