HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The Hampton Sheriff’s Office and the community is mourning the passing of Sheriff B.J. Roberts Saturday morning.
According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, Roberts passed away peacefully at his home after celebrating Christmas Day with his family.
Earlier this month, Roberts announced his plans to retire from the position on January 8.
Roberts served the Hampton community for 28 years.
He was first elected Sheriff of Hampton in 1992 and was re-elected to serve six terms. He had nearly 50 years of combined service to law enforcement in the Peninsula.
Following the news, local leaders and elected officials responded with prayers, thoughts to the families, and memories shared involving Roberts.
Gov. Ralph Northam said in a tweet Saturday, “Pam and I are saddened to learn of Sheriff B.J. Roberts’ passing. As Virginia’s longest-serving sheriff, he loved the people he served, and that love was returned by all who knew him. Our prayers are with his family and the Hampton Roads community during this difficult time.”
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) said “B.J. Roberts served the people of Hampton faithfully for many decades. He was a trailblazer who was deeply committed to improving relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
“He was also my friend for close to 30 years and even nominated me when I first ran for Senate in 1996. My thoughts are with the Roberts family and the deputies and staff of the Hampton Sheriff’s Office during this time.”
Congressman Bobby Scott released a statement saying “I was saddened to learn of the passing of Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts. Sheriff Roberts served our community for decades in law enforcement, first as a patrolman with the Newport News Police Department, then rising through the ranks of the Hampton University Campus Police to become the University’s Director of Police and Public Safety, and for the last 28 years as Hampton’s sheriff.”
“His 1992 election as sheriff was trailblazing as he became the first African American constitutional officer elected in Hampton’s history. He continued to break barriers when he was elected in 2010 to serve as the first African American president of the National Sheriff’s Association.
“Sheriff Roberts was committed to making our criminal justice system fairer and improving police-community relations. His passing is a tremendous loss for Hampton and the entire Commonwealth. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, the deputies and staff of the Hampton Sheriff’s Office, and all those positively impacted by his remarkable life,” Scott concluded.
Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office responded on Facebook saying, “Sheriff Michael A. Moore and the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office are very saddened to hear of the passing of Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts. Our sincere heart filled condolences go out to his family, friends, and our brothers and sisters at the Hampton Sheriff’s Office.”
York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office shared to Facebook, “We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts. We have worked closely with him for many years. Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends, and our brothers and sisters at the Hampton Sheriff’s Office.”
Former Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe tweeted, “B.J. was a giant, a historic figure and a change-maker. Dorothy and I join the City of Hampton and the entire Commonwealth in mourning the loss of Sheriff Roberts. We already miss him so much.”
Courtesy: Hampton Sheriff’s Office