𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐍𝐄𝐂𝐓𝐈𝐂𝐔𝐓 𝐍𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰𝐬…
𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐭 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐓𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐂𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐤 𝐄. 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐬 - 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐭 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐓𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐍𝐨𝐫𝐰𝐢𝐜𝐡, 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐭 𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞, 𝐏𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐞 𝐄. 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐬
𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐭’𝐬 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐓𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐤𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐮𝐭𝐲 𝟏𝟎𝟎 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐀𝐠𝐨 𝐓𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲.
Written by Kyle Knickerbocker
Since the inception of the Connecticut State Police in 1903, the agency has suffered 25 Line of Duty Deaths. Last year for example Trooper Sgt. Brian Mohl became the latest officer killed after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Sgt. Mohl’s death came 11 years to the day after another trooper, Kenneth Hall, was struck and killed on Interstate 91 in Enfield in 2010.
Two dozen state police deaths preceded Mohl’s dating back to the agency’s origins in 1903 when it was enforcing prohibition, vice and labor laws.
This month, the Connecticut state police will commemorate the 100th anniversary of its first Line of Duty Death.
His name was 26 year old Trooper Pearle E. Roberts, a veteran First Sergeant of the United States Army of Norwich, Connecticut.
On November 25, 1922, Trooper Roberts was returning to Headquarters from New Haven in Mount Carmel following duty at a college football game, when the front wheel of his motorcycle caught the groove of a trolley track on Whitney Avenue. He was thrown head first over the handlebars and the motorcycle landed on him. Roberts, in addition to other injuries, suffered a fractured skull when he struck a curb. ��Trooper Roberts, who would die shortly thereafter, would sadly not return to Mrs. Roberts in Norwich who was then 7 months pregnant with his son Pearle “Peter” Roberts.
While researching for this story, as most of what was just described is publicly available information, I decided I’d reached to none other than Connecticut State Trooper First Class (TFC) Mark E. Roberts a trooper himself since 2006, and the Great Grandson of Connecticut State Trooper Pearle E. Roberts.
Over the course of our nearly hour long phone interview, as he did in a recent interview for National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund in August, Trooper Mark Roberts talked of his Great Grandfather as a very accomplished young man, and trooper who took his job very seriously, who had his whole life ahead of him as well as a growing family to enjoy.
After November 1922 though, it would not be the same for the Roberts family.
For almost 85 years, the pain of losing young Roberts as well as the absence of a support system and or some form of crisis intervention team, affected not just Mrs. Roberts, but for generations to come.
For another 86 years, after Pearle’s death, there would not be another Roberts behind the gold badge that is that of the Connecticut State Police.
It wasn’t until a cold & windy blizzard day in January 2006, a young Mark Roberts reported for his first day as a trainee at the Connecticut State Police Academy.
Since then, Roberts has worked in the State’s Special License and Fi****ms Unit. He was also formerly a detective, and worked in Troop E in Montville for eight years.
Over the course of his 17 years with the State Police, Trooper Roberts has not let the demands of being a Connecticut State Trooper, a taxing and demanding job in of itself, stop him from getting involved early on in what he says has been the most rewarding — a role with with the Connecticut State Police Honor Guard, a formal unit that represents the department at ceremonial events, parades, dedications, funeral details, and other events
His dedication & professionalism ultimately led him to become the unit’s Commanding Officer as of recently, ensuring his unit has and will be on hand for the families of fallen, and retired, Law Enforcement even though there was no support network or crisis intervention team for his own family when they needed it.
One prime example, which made nationwide news, was after what happened in Bristol, Connecticut in October of this year when two Officers of the Bristol Connecticut Police Department were struck down in a suspected ambush. The Connecticut State Police Honor Guard, along with thousands of other officers from out of State Police Departments, were on hand at Rentschler Field to facilitate the ceremony for the fallen officers and their families.
As Sgt. Greg Dube, of the New Hampshire State Police, said it was important to show support in large numbers after such a tragedy.
“We’re all family,” he said. “We definitely feel their pain. The best way we can show our respect is in strength in numbers. “I might not have met them, but I understand it could have easily happened to me or my colleagues. You just can’t take any day for granted.”
While Trooper Roberts says he will be quietly reflecting on Friday about his Great Grandfather, he will continue to do his part in his role as Commanding Officer of the Connecticut State Police Honor Guard to ensure the network of officers and Law Enforcement are in place, whenever and wherever the families of the fallen need them by their side.
Visit the Connecticut State Police Museum and Education Center
Visit the National Law Enforcement Museum
Join your local police explorers program.
simply Google search: CT Police Explorers
Observe National Police Week in 2023, from May 15-21. https://nleomf.org/memorial/programs/national-police-week-2023/
Apply to become a Connecticut State Trooper
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
This is likely the organization you’re most familiar with and really needs no introduction. The NLEOMF is a fantastic organization that’s been shedding light on the sacrifice of American LEOs since 1984 and relies on donations to operate. Donate here.
Companions For Heroes
C4H pairs companion animals with first responders and military personnel recovering from PTSD and other serious challenges suffered during the course of their public service. We have highlighted the great work the organization is doing as part of our “Quiet Warrior” program.
First Responders Children's Foundation
The foundation works with families across the country, including police, fire, Forest Service, Border Patrol, EMS and all other forms of responders. They help provide college scholarships to children whose first responders' parents have either died in the line of duty or have become permanently disabled due to their line of work.
Tunnel to Towers Foundation
The foundation, named after firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on 9/11, helps ease the financial burden of fallen responders' families by paying off their mortgages or creating trust accounts. All donations go directly to fund this initiative.
Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation
Through donations, the foundation helps provide much-needed equipment and resources to first responder and public safety organizations. In 2016, they were able to give 357 sets of bunker gear, 1,469 AEDs, 42 extrication tools and 83 ballistic vests.
Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.)
C.O.P.S. provides resources to families and colleagues of police officers killed in the line of duty, including peer support, a reimbursement program for kids counseling, and school scholarships.
Gary Sinise Foundation
The actor perhaps most famous for his role as “Lt. Dan” in Forrest Gump has been doing great work supporting members of our military for years, but did you know his foundation also supports first responders? Its First Responders Outreach program provides equipment and training to police, fire, and EMS services.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation
Big Ben’s foundation is primarily focused on support for K-9 units and service dogs, providing grants to police and fire department canine units for a range of needs, including additional dogs, K-9 safety gear and training equipment.
Cops 4 Causes
Cops 4 Causes is an organization that collectively highlights philanthropic efforts of law enforcement, including aiding the families of fallen LEOs, wounded warriors, and youth engagement initiatives.
This organization sends care packages to military personnel, veterans and first responders as a thank you to all of those who have bravely served our country.